As the Fall 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. Noel Simms had this to say about SFS Turks & Caicos:
Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
Luckily, choosing this program was actually super easy for me! As soon as I found a program focused on tropical marine studies in the Caribbean, I knew it was the perfect study abroad option for me. For my abroad experience, I wanted to do research but in a hands-on environment where the students are taught how to observe and collect data from the field instead of being in a closed lab all day. SFS works so closely with students and their passions, and I think that that is very unique and special for a study abroad program.
What are your first impressions of the country?
Our small, 19-passenger airplane from the Providenciales airport marked the moment that we officially embarked on our study abroad journey. We flew over the turquoise blue waters, eager to snorkel and dive and discover the incredible life and treasures the waters held. Upon landing, a tropical rain shower rolled through, cooling us in the warm sunshine for 5 minutes before continuing on with the breeze. We rode in a truck to the site and on our way, locals of South Caicos, or “Belongers,” smiled and waved as if we had all been neighbors for years, welcoming us wholeheartedly. The island is stunning but the people who live here are what gives it life and beauty. The resilience of soul and joy held by the Belongers after Hurricane Irma is astonishing and radiates through everyone. This is the biggest impression South Caicos has had on me already and I cannot wait to learn more from the Belongers.
What are your first impressions of the field station?
Walking through the center for the first time, I immediately saw how it was once a beautiful hotel. The crystal blue pool lay in front of the even more crystal blue ocean. Small green islands dot the shallow waters along with a mysterious shipwreck. You can’t help but be awestruck when first stepping foot in the Center. Big school flags and murals, reflecting past students’ journeys to the island, proudly decorate the outside dining hall that overlooks sunsets on the water. As I tried to take in the fact that the Center was my new home, a big black dog with the cutest grey face came up and pushed up against my leg asking for pets. She is one of two dogs at the center and they are the cherry on top to it all. For me, the center is a space of shared excitement for the ocean and adventure, and even more so, a space for our new family and home.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester, both academically and culturally?
My home school’s academic calendar is a quarter system. This will be my first time taking classes for an extended amount of time like a semester and I believe it may pose as a challenge for me. The pace of class will be different, as well as the classes covering more material, both being an adjustment for me but I’m up for the challenge! I think culturally a challenge may be living a different lifestyle. South Caicos is definitely on island time which I have quickly learned to love but it was a point of change for me that was unexpectedly noticeable in my normal kind of routine.
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am looking forward to everything about this semester. This study abroad program is so unique and such a rare opportunity that I intend on soaking up every inch of knowledge, laughs, and sun it has to offer. I absolutely cannot wait to learn more about the unparalleled marine ecosystems right outside our doorstep, my amazing peers, and the welcoming Belongers of South Caicos.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Elated, sunny, adventurous.