As the Spring 2018 SFS students begin to settle into their new homes around the world, we asked them to share their impressions of the experience so far. Henry Locke had this to say about SFS Australia:
Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
Since becoming an environmental policy major, my studies have primarily consisted of learning about places and events far from the classroom walls that surrounded me. That is why when I initially decided that I wanted to study abroad, I knew I wanted an immersive experience in the environment and the academics. After reading the archived blog posts, descriptions about what the program would entail, and speaking with a friend at my college who went on the program last year, I envisioned a semester full of environmental adventure as well as intensive academic study.
What are your first impressions of the country?
With those hopes in mind, my first two weeks have surpassed all expectations. While the extent of this program is limited in its scope of Australia, the parts I have seen have been absolutely stunning. Queensland, and Cairns in particular, are unlike anywhere else I have ever been. To match that level of natural beauty, the people I have encountered and talked with have been incredibly warm and welcoming. It has been an absolute blast working with and getting to know the local environmentalists in the field.
What are your first impressions of the field station?
I absolutely love the field station due to its complete isolation from anything around us. While some might find waking up to the noise of birds outside your window as tiresome, I am thrilled to be so completely engrossed in the rainforest. My favorite part has easily been the abundance of cool creatures such as pademelons and monitor lizards which frequently hang around the area. Hopefully when I write my reflective journal at the end of the semester I will be able to say that I have seen even more creatures!
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester, both academically and culturally?
I think the biggest challenge for me academically will be working with tools and knowledge that I have no prior experience with, such as GIS. Culturally, I think that choosing to fully embrace Australian culture instead of attempting to apply my own culture to this setting will be challenging. However, I am confident that I will be able to overcome both of these challenges entirely.
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
Going to the Great Barrier Reef! My love for the ocean is what compelled me to pursue a career in environmental conservation, so being able to visit and snorkel along one of the world’s greatest natural wonders will be a life-changing experience for sure.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Exhilarated, immersed, optimistic.