Final Impressions of SFS Panama

Posted: December 22, 2015

→ Read Kate’s First Impressions of Panama

What did you like most about the SFS experience?
I have loved being able to pair what I learned in class with what we did out in the field. This has been an incredible semester!

You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
When I first arrived I was a little overwhelmed by Bocas. I came to appreciate the little things I had back at home, like hot showers or well-functioning wifi. But it didn’t take long for me to learn to love Bocas for all its quirks. Sometimes a simpler life helps you see what is truly important.

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?
Some of the best parts were the tight relationships I formed with my community. I came to know the students and staff like they were family. The closeness and openness of everyone here is not your typical college semester experience. A very challenging aspect of life here at the Center is the lack of wifi. I was prepared to unplug from social media and friends, but it became an issue when everyone was trying to do research or work for class. It is something you learn to live with and makes you realize how privileged we are in the United States.

What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
These are my first upper division Environmental Studies classes and so I came into this program with little background knowledge. I was surrounded by students who had so much experience and knowledge and it was overwhelming at first. If you work hard and ask for help, you can keep up! It was also hard at first to adjust to “Panama Time”. Everything happens at a slower rate and can sometimes be frustrating. Like everything else here, you learn to love it and appreciate it for what it means.

What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
My best memory has to be getting scuba certified. It was such an incredible experience to be under water for long periods of time and see unique marine life! What a place to get certified!

Give three adjectives that best describes how you are feeling right now.
Content, empowered, and blessed

I feel content because I feel that I have gotten so much out of my life here in Bocas. I have no regrets leaving here, knowing that I got to see and experience so much. I just wish I could stay longer.
I feel empowered because I have gained so much knowledge this past semester and am inspired to take what I have learned and apply it to my life back at home. Knowledge is power, and I am excited to see how much further it can take me in life.
I feel blessed because these past 3 and a half months have been the best of my life. I was surrounded by 17 students and 9 staff who genuinely cared about me. It will be hard to say goodbye, but these moments we’ve shared will never fade from my memory.

→ Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies Semester Program in Panama