As the Summer 2019 SFS students began to settle into their new homes around the world, we asked them to share their impressions of the experience so far. Marissa Naclerio had this to say about SFS Turks & Caicos:
Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I chose to study with SFS after I learned about it at UConn’s fall involvement fair. The second I saw the pamphlet for Turks & Caicos Islands, I knew it was where I wanted to spend my summer. The more I read about the program, the more I realized it was everything I wanted from a summer field class – and more!
What are your first impressions of the country?
Flying into the country, I was shocked by the flat terrain of Providenciales when we touched down. I expected TCI to look like Puerto Rico (where my family lives), but I was completely wrong! I’d never seen a landscape so flat and dotted with scrub all around. My first interaction with someone on the island was the customs officer I spoke with as I entered the country. He was so friendly and chatty – something I didn’t expect of someone working at the airport in such high heat! He was nice enough to tell me a homemade recipe for getting rid of my bad cough. I felt so at peace in a community of welcoming and radiant people.
What are your first impressions of the Center?
Right off the bat, I fell in love with the Center. It’s location right on the water makes for spectacular views. You can see endless seagrass beds right off the edge of the Center and little islands dotting the aquamarine water. The Center is open-air, which is a big difference from buildings in Connecticut! There are also many adopted dogs in town milling around and occasionally greeting us at the Center. This highlighted how caring the staff is about the welfare of animals here on the island, and also made a statement about their involvement in the local community.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester, both academically and culturally?
Academically, the biggest challenge for me will be to keep a good working pace and falling into a rhythm throughout the semester. The ocean water is so beautiful here and the temperature so hot that I’m always distracted by the thought of going for a swim! There’s so much to explore here on South Caicos that I need to find a balance between academics and exploration. Culturally, my biggest adjustment will be accepting how animals fit into life here. On a walk down the street, I can see wild horses and donkeys, as well as many dogs! On any walk through town, the Center dogs will walk with us – and we’ll be joined by local dogs that we’ve befriended! It’s a new experience for me learn about the way animals live here in South Caicos – but they’ve all come to hold a special place in my heart!
What are you looking forward to the most about the program?
I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the marine sciences here on South Caicos. I came to this program because I want to work in marine conservation in the future, and SFS TCI seemed like the perfect place to start! The classes we’ve taken here so far have greatly expanded my understanding of the environmental world – through both classroom lectures and field work. Being able to learn about different underwater flora and fauna, and then go into the water to watch them in their natural habitat is such a unique and beneficial experience.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Tranquil, Content, Motivated