Final Impressions of SFS Australia

Posted: December 5, 2014

What did you like most about the SFS experience?
The Directed Research process was definitely my favorite part. Although extremely challenging, there was never a dull moment. My group, including our advisor Justus, was incredible. We not only worked hard and collected an unbelievable amount of data, but we had so much fun and had more laughs than is probably healthy.

You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
I knew I’d love Australia…I didn’t know that I would be dreading leaving this much though. The view on life here seems to be more relaxed. There is no pressure to follow a certain path or reach society’s idea of success. I’ve never met so many people in one place who just simply love life and people so much. Happiness seems to be a top priority here.

What is life at the field station really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts of living at a remote field station?
Life at the field station is special. The best part is the walk from the cabins to the center every morning. The path is absolutely breathtaking and never gets old (as long as it is the part going downhill). I would say the most challenging part is how isolated the center is, but I’ve actually come to love it. We are able to go into town and to the lake in our free time, and I know I will miss this beautiful place and its peace.

What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
The biggest academic challenge for me was the Directed Research write up process. I ventured out of my comfort zone and decided to study socioeconomic values instead of my more comfortable subject, ecology. It was still the best part of the semester and I learned a lot through the people in my group and having to look at issues through several angles – not just the environmental perspective. Culturally, I think the biggest challenge was catching onto Australian humor. We found out pretty quick that Aussies are pretty blunt. It took some getting used to, but we’ve finally caught on (for the most part).

What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
There are too many to write.  I’ll just name a few. I came into the program knowing that when I got home, I would cut my hair and donate it to cancer victims. Over spring break, my YOLO (you only live once) kicked in and I let the other students cut off about a foot of my hair. Another great memory was when we were all in the Daintree Rainforest and a cassowary crossed the street right in front of us. We all completely freaked out and experienced absurd amounts of adrenaline for the rest of the day. Another great memory was at the Tablelands Folk Festival. On the last day of the festival, we all went to The Timbers’ concert and danced together. We looked completely ridiculous but we will never forget how fun it was.

Give three adjectives that best describes how you are feeling right now.
Nostalgic, renewed, and thankful.