When I was preparing to study abroad, my school made me go through a lot of preparation seminars. One of them was about culture shock. At one point, they mentioned that “you may even experience culture shock from being around students with different backgrounds”. They only mentioned this once, so I assumed it was a euphemism for “you might get annoyed living around different people”. I’ve always been able to play well with others, so I dismissed the idea almost completely.
Then, on the first day at the field site, I saw a fellow student sitting on a stump examining a small plant in his hands.
Curious, I went over to him. “This plant smells like rubber,” he said, offering it up to me to smell for myself. “Isn’t that weird?”
At this point I had spent almost a whole day in Australia, and not once had it felt like I was in a different country. And even though it was completely insignificant, this strange plant made me feel for the first time like I was on the opposite side of the planet from my home.
That’s what has continuously surprised me about being a part of The School for Field Studies: I wasn’t expecting my fellow adventurers to elevate my experience so much and make me appreciate everything around me that much more. Vincent, who showed me the plant on that first day, points out the finest details in plants that I would have missed. Tully always knows what bird is what, and makes me appreciate how different they are from the ones I see at home.
And Jihoo (for better or for worse) will point out the spiders in the bathroom and every once in a while, catch one so we can take a closer look.
I knew I would have amazing, passionate teachers when I got to Australia…I just didn’t expect them to be my peers!