First Impressions of Australia

Posted: September 7, 2016

As SFS students begin to settle into their new homes for the fall, we ask them to give some of their first impressions of the program. Marley Guy had plenty to say about Australia:

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
Well, there are several reasons I ended up studying with SFS. First of all, SFS Australia does not have a foreign language requirement, and since a tidbit of Spanish here and a dabble of French there does not satisfy most study abroad programs, I needed a place without that particular requirement. Secondly, since I was very late in declaring my majors, I needed a program that would count for not only credit, but also towards my majors so that I could graduate on time. Really, though, it was a no brainer: I have always loved the forest and always will, so getting to live in one of the oldest rainforests in the world is truly a dream come true.

Photo courtesy of Karen Goldburg

What are your first impressions of the country?
Wow, this is so beautiful! I had just spent the past 30 some hours in a plane or airport, and stepping outside with a nice warm breeze on my face and mountains on one side and palm trees on the other was almost surreal. I remember thinking how the van looked so dirty and how smelly we all were and hoping that the drive back to the Center wouldn’t take too long because I was so tired, but it was strange how quickly my exhaustion was forgotten in the excitement of witnessing the new environment around me. We all marveled at the cars (on the other side of the road), the super-low homes, and the funny street signs greeting us at every stop; but once we started our ascent up the mountain and into the rainforest, the car fell silent. Everyone was in awe–I had never seen anything like it and the change was so abrupt that even now I don’t have words for it. To be honest, I don’t think I ever will.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
At first I didn’t think that I would be spending this much time here, I mean the field station is just one building. I knew we would eat and have classes here, but I thought that would be it. Boy, am I glad I was wrong. I know I have only been here for 6 days, but when I think of the field station one word pops into my head: community. We eat all of our meals together at one table, play cards in the lounge area, and the atmosphere around me and all of the other students and faculty is one friendship and support. I feel comfortable in this space with these people and I am excited to see this bond grow and strengthen throughout my time here.

Photo courtesy of Karen Goldburg

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically, I think time management might be something I struggle with because there are so many wonderful distractions here. I don’t know what I will struggle with culturally because I feel like we spend much of our time in the rainforest and have fewer interactions with the Australian culture. Sharing everything with everyone and finding time for myself might be something I have a hard time with.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am looking forward to my classes because every professor has his/her own teaching styles with things that work and don’t work and I love figuring out why something works or doesn’t. All of the classes are subjects I am interested in, which isn’t always the case back home. We get to take field trips frequently so even though we may have class for 7 hours one day, it doesn’t feel nearly that long.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Grateful, happy, welcome

Photo courtesy of Karen Goldburg

Photo courtesy of Karen Goldburg

→ Tropical Rainforest Studies in Australia