As the Spring 2019 SFS students begin to settle into their new homes around the world, we asked them to share their impressions of the experience so far. Angelin Lucas had this to say about SFS Peru:
Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
The reason I chose to study abroad with SFS was to be surrounded by all the biodiversity that makes the Amazon rainforest so beautiful and fascinating. For one, I’m a huge plant nerd and get really excited about learning different plants and tree species which is perfect because I’m constantly surrounded by huge trees. But most of all and the main reason for choosing SFS Peru was my love for insects!! I really have a desire to learn more about these amazing creatures and I felt that it was the right choice for me to surround myself in an environment that’s abundant with insects that I’ve never seen before!! (Or ones that are bigger than what I’m used to seeing, which makes this abroad experience 10x better).
What are your first impressions of the country?
When I first arrived at the Lima airport, I noticed two things right away: (1) I couldn’t find a water fountain to refill my empty water bottle and (2) I was sweating like crazy because there wasn’t any AC. I realized right then and there that those “small” things that I see as “normal” are actually something I took for granted in my everyday life.
From the moment I walked off the plane I noticed that everyone around me was speaking Spanish. I don’t know what I was expecting to hear arriving in Peru, a Spanish-speaking country, but at that moment I felt a feeling of fear and anxiety rush over me as I do not speak the language. Lima was so lively and awake even at 2 am. The people that walked by me seemed so confident, like an experienced traveler. I felt so lost traveling all by myself but I knew that soon I’d find my SFS group, which I did!
What are your first impressions of the field station?
The moment we stepped off the bus, Laura, Lizbet, and Milena (our professors) greeted, unloaded, and helped carry our bags/suitcases to our assigned rooms. I felt extremely supported from the very beginning and had an overwhelming feeling that I was safe here. I think this feeling is in part due to how beautiful and connected to nature we are at this center. I think it’s so cool that there’s running (cold) water, plumbing (but don’t flush your toilet paper), and the most amazing cooks that make such delicious food! All of this combined creates a positive feeling that makes this program special in its own way and makes me really excited for the next three months!
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester, both academically and culturally?
Personally, the biggest academic and cultural challenge for me is the language barrier. I entered this program as the only student to have never learned Spanish before and I didn’t realize how scary that was until I literally couldn’t converse with anybody as I walked around the Lima airport, the Iquitos community, or even with my fellow students. I am definitely putting myself outside my comfort zone being in this program, but I feel that as long as I’m willing and excited to learn this new language I will keep improving. My end goal is to be able to converse with the SFS staff, faculty, students, and locals. It’s quite a challenge for me but one that I hope to accomplish!
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I’m really excited about having class in the field and going on all our planned field excursions!! I definitely consider myself to be more of a hands on/visual learner, so having class out in the field is the best possible and most exciting learning situation for me. It allows me to see what we are learning right up close (whether it be a plant or an insect) as we hike out into the rainforest but still remember what I learned by taking notes too.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Nervous, Excited, Hopeful