Studying abroad is an adventure. With that, I would like to start this post off with a quote from a writer of one of the most famous adventure books to date.
“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”
“I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” — JRR Tolkien
Though new experiences and adventures may take you away from your home temporarily and put you outside of your comfort zone, it is important to stretch your perspective! The School for Field Studies does exactly this!
When you picture a classroom, what do you see? Maybe a whiteboard, desks, with hopefully a few windows? One of the greatest features about SFS is that the classroom expands way beyond a room with desks. The ocean and forests of Bocas del Toro, Panama, become your classroom. You can find yourself “in class” while taking a hike through the tropical rainforests, snorkeling at a reef, and visiting a local indigenous community. For me, this is the best way to learn, through hands on activities and immersion.
As you walk through the main part of town, reggaeton music and the smell of street food off a charcoal grill will waft over you and your new friends. Experiencing a new culture is an important step in growing as a person, college is a great time for this! In Panama, you can expect great food, dancing, and music. You’ll be thrown into this new mix of people, ways of life, and on top of that you’re trying to use the Spanish you know to get around. For those who may not know Spanish so well, don’t worry, you’ll be taking classes during your time here. It can be overwhelming, but in time you will settle in and find your way around Bocas more easily. Through classwork and interactions with community members you will learn about the complex history of Panama and how this history has shaped the Bocas del Toro region.
Diversity in the Field and the Community
Ever dreamed of seeing a sea star, toucan, or spotted eagle ray? You’ll find those creatures and plenty more here in Bocas del Toro. Through fieldwork and other adventures, you will discover the vast biodiversity that Panamanian ecosystems have. The list of activities to do here is endless, from surfing, to diving, to snorkeling, to paddle boarding, to climbing through a mangrove forest! The group of students you will be studying with will be diverse with various experiences and will come from all over the world. Around town you’ll meet the vibrant a mix of identities that makes the Panamanian nationality, including Bocatoreños, members from various Ngäbe communities, Chinese-Panamanians, and Afro-Antilleans.
Again, studying abroad will change your perspective, give you a unique educational experience, and hopefully you will come out of it with a great group of close friends. With that, I close with a few words more words from our famous adventure writer.
“Home is behind, the world ahead…” — JRR Tolkien.