At the beginning of the spring semester, we asked student Annie Carlile about her first impressions of Australia. Now, after a semester in country, we reconnected with Annie.

What did you like most about the SFS experience?
For me, being consistently immersed in the forest was the best. The constant connection with nature was really important to me, it helped remind me why I want to be studying the environment. As well, giving up “modern comfort” to be able to be here also made the experience that much more memorable.

You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
I think when you first go somewhere new, you look at it through rose-colored glasses. But after being here for a while, you begin to understand the complicated relationships and nuances of a place. While being able to appreciate the breathtaking beauty, I also learned so much about the complex human relationships with nature. Australia will always have a place in my heart for teaching me a lot about myself, and about others.

What is life at the Center really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts?
It’s hard to accurately describe what life at the Centre is like. In honesty, it’s a lot of reminding others to clean up after themselves, doing lots of dishes, and waiting in line to get laundry done. But it’s also a lot hanging out with fascinating people, playing intense games of volleyball, late nights watching TV, dance parties while baking cookies, and having meaningful conversations on long vans rides. You learn to appreciate even the “mundane” things about living with other people, and you cherish the great bonding moments.

What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
Communication. Having to adjust to a new system of organization and class structure was a long game of catch-up. I had to quickly learn to be reorganize and adjust the way I work to meet new standards, which is a difficult change.

Culturally though, Australia is fairly similar to the States. I’ve been impressed with the culture here, especially with regard to Native Peoples’ rights. The acknowledgment of past land ownership is something I hope to take back home.

Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Sentimental, peaceful, lucky


→ Rainforest Studies in Australia