I was the first one to arrive from my program at the Cairns (pronounced “cans” by the locals) airport at the bright and early time of 4:40 am. While normal people were sleeping, I weaved my way through immigration in nervous anticipation of what I was getting myself into.
After 12 hours of waiting for the SFS staff to arrive, my classmates and I were off. Our first adventure came in the form of the Gillies Highway, a road famous for its 263 corners and 800 m elevation change in only 19 km of road. The scenery was beautiful, picture lush green mountains densely covered by rainforest, but the feeling in my stomach was not.
I forgot about my nausea once we reached the Center. I was captivated by the dense rainforest encapsulating me, and the sounds and sights that went with it. I immediately felt at home, and cozy in my cabin. The Center was welcoming too. I loved all the spaces for recreation, including volleyball and basketball courts as well as a small gym. Other favorite places include the common room, the computer lab and the study shack: all great places to curl up with a book on a rainy day.
There was no time to recover once we arrived. Immediately, we were thrown into a busy schedule: hiking around the rainforest on leaf littered paths, a tree planting in the middle of a cloud covered crater, visiting the local towns to find out more about the people, and spotlighting to become more familiar with the fauna.
Here at the center the focus has been on conservation and sustainability. In Australia, we have a unique chance to set an example for the world. Everyone here practices these principles every day whether it be composting, using less water, decreasing meat consumption, or simply hanging out clothes to dry. Little things like this can add up quickly over time for the benefit of the planet – I already feel like I am making a difference.
I am so grateful to have this experience! SFS Australia really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. There are not very many people who can say that they lived in a tropical rainforest and woke up and fell asleep to the sounds of the forest for 3 whole months. I am also lucky to be blessed with such great peers. We all have become close quickly – already it feels like a family. I am so excited to see what’s in store for us these next couple months.