Posted: September 15, 2016

SFS Peru students have begun settling into their home for the semester. We asked Audrey Nelson and Sam Parks about their first impressions of their new surroundings; here’s what they had to say.

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
Audrey: I feel that there are many things you can’t learn in a classroom. Actually traveling somewhere new and getting hands-on experience teaches a student things they could never get from textbooks. It’s important to see how other people live their lives and understand that there are many different ways to inhabit this world, many of which we can learn from and implement in our own daily lives.
Sam: I chose to study abroad with SFS mainly because of the opportunity to do hands-on research with some of the leading experts in the field.


Students with Professor Adrian Tejedor before their first hike!

What are your first impressions of the country?
Audrey: Peru is such a vibrant place. I feel like I’ll never have enough time to soak in the richness of both the wildlife and cultures here. There is no “model Peruvian” – Peru is a mix of so many cultures and types of people.
Sam: Busy, and a little overwhelming in Cusco. However, upon entering the Sacred Valley, I felt very humbled by the dramatic mountains that surround the valley.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
Audrey: The Hatun Valley Lodge is filled with more flowers, herbs, and trees than I can name. When I walk to class I walk through a rainbow of flora, quite appropriate for the focus of my SFS program!
Sam: What a nice place to stay!

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Audrey: I think the biggest academic challenge will be entering the program straight from high school, instead of already having completed some relevant 100 level courses. Culturally, I think the biggest challenge will come farther into the program when the shine of being somewhere new wears off and I begin to miss the comforts of home.
Sam: The long days in the field will be both emotionally and physically difficult. Culturally, it will be important for me to accept the differences between Peru and the US without feeling the need to compare and rank them.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
Audrey: I’m looking forward to finding the specific parts of environmental studies that I find especially exciting. I’m still deciding what I want to study, so I can’t wait to find the things that I feel like I could study for a lifetime.
Sam: I am looking forward to the intensive immersion in research and biodiversity classes. Culturally it will be great to learn about the ways other people live.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Audrey: Peaceful, engaged, happy
Sam: Excited, nervous, curious


Students at the Parque de la Papa (potato park). Here, they learned about traditional knowledge relating to potato agriculture as well as traditional medicine and the effects of climate change on agriculture in the Andes

→ Biodiversity & Development in the Andes-Amazon, Peru