Hi! My name is Natalie Prince, and I am going to be a senior this fall at Delaware Valley University. In the spring of 2019, I will be getting my BS in Wildlife Conservation and Management. I took part in the SFS Turks and Caicos Summer 1 semester.
What did you like most about the SFS experience?
I think I would have to say being out in the field is my favorite part, as well as participating and becoming part of the South Caicos community. I have felt welcomed since the moment I got to South Caicos, and I am so grateful for that. I’ve seen so much awesome stuff in and out of the water, and getting to share that experience with like-minded peers from many different education and cultural backgrounds has been really eye-opening.
You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
I have really enjoyed my time here, away from the hustle and bustle of the United States. I’m originally from New Jersey; I grew up in a small suburban town ten minutes from the beach. People that live in my community do not know everyone, and they do not really bother to get to know one another. The South Caicos community is so tight knit, everyone really knows everyone, and it has been a pleasure to be part of it even though it was only for a short while.
What is life at the field station really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts of living at a remote field station?
Life at the field station is different from anything I’ve ever done. There is around 34 students’ total and 20 staff, so there are only about 50 people that you see and live with every single day. It was something I was very nervous about getting into! However, I truly believe it’s been a great experience for everyone involved. I have lived on campus in dorm housing at my university for 3 years, but I see a lot more of the people here in the commune than I do at my home university. It can be exhausting sometimes, but it has definitely been a learning and growing experience for me.
What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
I think that the toughest challenge academically was the fast-paced nature of the course. It is only a 4 week program, and it goes by extremely fast. The course material has to be packed in, and there are also field activities and center activities which take up time. I think my biggest cultural challenge was living as part of the commune in the small center on a small island. Around 2 weeks in, I was feeling very homesick and I missed my family. I was able to take it in stride, and I feel like I have been successful in many ways here.
What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
There have been so many awesome things that have happened; I will try to pick my favorites! My first and second favorite thing was both catching a turtle for our Professor’s turtle research! Incidentally, I caught the same turtle twice. He/she is approximately 2 years old Hawksbill sea turtle, too young to tell the gender. I was there when they tagged him, and I got to name him and get a picture with him. Another favorite part was not knowing what I was going to see, each time I went in the water for a snorkel. I am always filled with such excitement, because I never know what I will see. I have taken tons of pictures, and that has been a favorite part for me too. This whole trip was a dream come true.
Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
I would say grateful, happy, and excited. I feel grateful because I have had the experience of a lifetime here on South Caicos. I feel happy because I know that I have learned a lot about the ecosystem and life on South Caicos, and I feel like I have gotten a lot from my time here in memories and friendships alike. Lastly I feel excited, because this program has helped me on my path and I am excited to see what comes next for me. This definitely won’t be the last time I come to South Caicos!