Posted: February 10, 2017

SFS students in programs around the world have arrived, and as they begin to settle into their new homes, we asked them to give some first impressions of the program. Blake Wynveen had this to say about his experience in Panama so far:

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
When I was in my first semester at school, I was at our study abroad fair and saw the big “Environmental Studies” sign for SFS. From that moment on I had my mind made up that I was going on an SFS program. As I went through all of the options, I saw Panama as the best location for me. I love the combination of land and sea, as well as the community engagement aspects of the semester. Plus, the weather isn’t too shabby either.

What are your first impressions of the country?
Words can’t describe the immaculate beauty this country has. I love photography, so this has been a paradise for me, especially the sunsets! I have even had a tough time focusing in class because our classroom is out over the ocean, and the views on all sides are amazing. I can’t wait to get more immersed in the reefs and rain forests nearby on our days off.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
It is awesome, essentially a converted surf house that has a pool and plenty of hammocks. I think I am going to do some snorkeling just off our beach on our next calm day when I have free time.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
The biggest challenge culturally will be trying to adjust to a lot of “new” after being part of the same culture at school for the past two years. However, so far the transition has gone smoothly because the students, faculty, and locals here are super fun.

Academically, the most difficult part will be the “hard science” classes, especially since I haven’t taken many science classes at school being a business and religious studies student. But I think that the classes will help broaden my horizon, and the professors (who we call by their first names) are all super understanding and open to helping whenever I need it.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am looking forward to having some of the best few months of my life, and learning and immersing myself in the environment of Bocas del Toro. I also love my peers here, who keep me smiling and laughing both in and out of the classroom.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Relaxed, optimistic, blissful

→ Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies in Panama