Every morning, I wake up in our cabin to the beautiful sounds of tropical birds chirping and making exotic calls. I walk down a quiet dirt path to the Center and get a view of the rainforest that changes each day with the morning fog, rays of the rising sun, and cockatoos dancing along the canopy of the place I get to call home. I make a delicious breakfast as everyone rubs the sleep from their eyes and begins to talk to one another as only lifelong friends do. As I drink from a fresh pot of coffee, I see all the smiling faces of my “mates” and I am grateful for the opportunity to be in this amazing place. The bell rings and we all stroll into class as our world-class professors chat and laugh with students about stories of the weekend’s adventures. We work hard on the various reports assigned to us on topics ranging from forest regeneration to the socio-economics of nearby towns.
Photo: Chase Douglas
After the work is done, we are awarded with an overnight visit to Cairns: a beautiful ocean-side city with a lively nightlife. On the dance floor we start to mingle with the locals and realize that we are dancing alongside another American program in Australia, who all end up being good friends of ours by the end of the night. The weeks fly by and the weather starts to flaunt a shining sun, so we play badminton tournaments, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball games as much as we can. Throughout our average day I have wonderful talks with all of the staff. Especially meaningful to me are the pieces of priceless advice given by our cook, Iris. The staff of young interns and Student Affair Managers are some of the nicest and most inspiring folks I have met in Australia, and they won’t hesitate to help with any problem, whether it is lending a calling card for a phone interview or being a friend who you can talk to about anything with.
Every night is spent watching movies, playing board games, and having heart-to-heart conversations under the countless stars with the different inspiring individuals that I share this incredible experience with. My time here has been one great story after another and I am so thankful for the opportunity to explore Australia and myself through SFS.
Cheers to the little things!
Photo: Justin Tello
Photo: Frank Sicignano