Posted: February 13, 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. Michelle Zhou had this to say about her experience in Tanzania so far:

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
Studying abroad is something I have always aspired to do during my time at Austin College. I believe that in order to truly immerse yourself in a culture, you have to spend an extensive period of time learning and appreciating all the customs the local people practice. After researching all the available programs, I chose this specific program because no other program seems to have as much of a hands-on experience compared to the coursework SFS offers. I am interested in furthering my capability in field studies during my undergraduate years here. I have also asked for feedback from multiple Austin College alumni who went abroad and The School of Field Studies seemed to really have an impact on those who participated in the program.

What are your first impressions of the country?
This country is so vibrant culturally and everywhere I look, everything is so GREEN and beautiful. The second I stepped off the plane at the Kilimanjaro Airport, the air itself just felt lighter and the first sunset and night sky was just stunning. The stars at night are so bright and twinkle as a million of them light up the sky.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
The field station is absolutely beautiful! We were first welcomed by the staff and faculty who lined up to greet us when we entered the camp; and then we were issued our roommates and our bandas or “home” for the semester. Moyo Hill, where the camp is situated on has such amazing scenery and it’s been a joy just walking around the village. The locals have also been very welcoming and the little kids at the primary school near our camp are so outgoing and love to say hi to us.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Learning how to balance academics while also experiencing and exploring the village will definitely be a challenge. There are always new opportunities and experiences to dabble in and so staying at camp and studying is sometimes hard. The pole pole or “slowly” lifestyle is also one that I will need to get adjusted to. In the states, it’s so easy to get caught up in a fast-paced routine, and so taking things pole pole is a new concept.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I’m looking forward to learning more about human wildlife interactions and also the local culture. I hope to learn more Swahili during my stay here!

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Adventurous, optimistic, open-minded

→ Wildlife Management Studies in Tanzania