I had come to Australia two weeks early to travel and cross a few things off my bucket list. After seeing a dance performance at the Opera House in Sydney, doing a marine biology SCUBA and snorkel tour of the Great Barrier Reef, and making countless friends from all over the world in hostels, I was beyond excited to head into the rainforest with SFS. I met everyone at the airport and had the unique experience of watching all of my soon-to-be close friends see Australia for the first time. They pointed out the mountains, birds, vegetation, the feeling of driving on the opposite side of the road, the Kit-Kats (which apparently have better chocolate than at home), and the pictures that they had all taken of the funny signs on the toilets in the airport.

Turning onto the access road to the center was exactly what I expected based on my experiences of staying in field stations in Costa Rica, but everyone else seemed pleasantly surprised by the fact that we were not only going to be learning about the rainforest, but rather being fully immersed in it. For example, we learned about bandicoots and observing wildlife behavior in lecture, then we saw one walking by while we were playing cards that night. Being fully immersed in the rainforest and living in this remote area has been a bonding experience for us all. One of my favorite parts about being here is being disconnected. I was starting to get frustrated at home noticing that everyone is constantly on their cell phones and social media. Living as simply and modestly as we do at the Center is a refreshing reminder of what is really important.

The first day that we started lecture and field work really reminded me of how much I love learning about the environment and I was really excited to be back to biology. Having three different professors and interns with different perspectives and personalities is a huge advantage. I’m really looking forward to exposing myself to as much as possible and am hoping to discover which aspect of environmental studies I am most passionate about.