First Impressions of SFS Turks & Caicos Islands

Posted: February 8, 2016

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
As a biology and ecological sciences double major, I’ve always been interested in field research. After sitting in countless hours of labs and lectures, the idea of applying my skills in a real life setting couldn’t have sounded any more exciting. The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies promotes a hands-on learning technique that will allow me to apply the education I’ve received at Elon directly to environmental issues that TCI faces. Research and community-based education have always been professional dreams for me, and these next 3 months will definitely help me fine tune the skills needed to pursue a career in these fields.

In addition to the professional skill-building aspect of this program, I also found the size of The School for Field Studies’ programs quite appealing. A smaller group of students gives me the opportunity to really engage with students and staff from different backgrounds and pushes me to step beyond my comfort zone.

Last but not least, I was really drawn to the location of this program… I mean who wouldn’t want to spend 3 months in paradise?

What are your first impressions of the country?
Flying into Providenciales (“Provo”) I truly could not believe how blue the water was. And it only got more spectacular when we boarded our ferry to the Center! These islands really are a special place. South Caicos definitely contrasts with the bigger islands in more ways than one, with the most prominent being infrastructure. Provo is more of a tourist destination, while South is primarily a fishing island. South just got its first resort, which has been a huge change for the community, and we’re all eager to see what this development will mean for the island.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
It’s hard to walk into the field station for the first time and not have your breath taken away. As soon as you walk through the front gate you can see the gorgeous bright blue water that the Center overlooks. It really is a special spot.

Aside from the view, I also really love how open the Center is. This particular feature makes group time that much more enjoyable. We recently started working on our Marine Ecology ID field journals and I love sitting around with everyone identifying marine organisms.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Culturally, I think the biggest challenge here for me will be the lack of amenities I’ve become so accustomed to in the U.S. (freshwater laundry and a relatively unlimited supply of freshwater showers). However, I’m already learning to love saltwater showers and they really are much more enjoyable than I’d anticipated.

Academically speaking, I think finding time to focus throughout these next 3 months may become my biggest challenge. Activities like swimming, snorkeling, and exploring the local community have been so fun these last few days that I’ve really struggled with making time for schoolwork.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
Diving, plain and simple. During the gap year I took after high school, I received my PADI Open Water certification while diving off the coast of Honduras. Since receiving this certification, I’ve been really been eager for another opportunity to dive again. We just went on our first recreational dive this Saturday and I can confidently say that SCUBA really does live up to the hype. I can’t wait to develop my skills as a SCUBA diver and push myself to new depths.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Enthusiastic, curious, ready.

→ Marine Resource Studies Semester Program in Turks & Caicos Islands