At the beginning of the semester, we asked student Allison Dawson about her first impressions of TCI. Now, as the semester wraps up, she shared her thoughts with us again.
What did you like most about the SFS experience?
The thing I liked most about the SFS experience was getting to live in an incredible country while immersing myself in my passion for marine sciences both above and below the water.
You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
The island of South Caicos has become a home away from home. Today as I laid on the soft, white sand soaking up the last of the sun before I head back to frigid Ohio, I realized just how much I would miss the warm air and salty breeze of this small little Caribbean island. This country is so full of life and the people have such happy care-free attitudes. I’m a little wary of returning to the fast-paced lifestyle of the US!
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?
Living at a remote field station with the same group of people for three months was both the best and the most challenging part of the whole program. The close quarters could get frustrating at times, but these people have become more than just my classmates, they are my lifelong friends.
What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
My biggest challenge this semester academically ended up being the (limited at times) wifi. This may sound a little silly, but when working on a research paper that requires the use of internet to search for information and previous papers, it gets a little tough to get things accomplished! Culturally, the integration into the community was a challenge. Unlike other study abroad opportunities in Europe or South America, this was not a home stay or an apartment in the heart of a city or town. We were a group of Americans living all together in a center and it made us a little, somewhat isolated population of our own.
What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
The best memory I have from this semester is the last SCUBA dive we had here on Big South. I dove at a site called “The Grotto”. While diving around between 70 and 80 feet below the water, I was really reminded why Turks and Caicos has the motto “Beautiful by Nature”. The coral reef formations were so incredible and the fish so colorful. I came within arm’s reach of a giant Southern stingray as he glided slowly right past me. It was a peaceful yet exciting reminder why I’m so passionate about saving the marine environments.
Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Gratified – for all that I learned during this semester
Motivated – to pursue my dreams and help protect marine life
Bittersweet – for leaving my newfound friends and this beautiful island to start the next chapter of my life
Face to face with a hawksbill turtle
A southern stingray during the last dive at The Grotto