When I was looking to study abroad, I had three main conditions that I wanted from my experience. I first wanted to have an academically challenging environment that would allow me to think outside the box. Secondly, it was important to have a sense of community involvement and third, I wanted something completely different that I would remember for the rest of my life. SFS was the organization that met all of these conditions, and it has been a once in a lifetime experience.
SFS is one of the most unique study abroad programs offered, and the blend of cultural experiences and academic field work is a perfect balance. In Panama, I can spend the morning at an Indigenous community talking about land rights, and then transition to an afternoon of snorkeling or exploring mangrove systems. The hands-on field work is an extremely rewarding experience for passionate scientists and environmentalists alike. The structure of SFS classes allows me to shift my perspective on global issues, and think outside of my own personal opinions. Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to become more of a global citizen and SFS can help you become more aware of global issues.
Becoming involved in local communities is one of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad, so I knew I would need to find a program that allowed me to engage with the local culture. SFS offers many opportunities to become involved with local groups and organizations. I have spent Saturdays teaching local girls English and how to swim, there have been opportunities to play games like volleyball and soccer in local communities, and visits to different islands have been extremely beneficial in understanding the local customs and cultures of Bocas del Toro.
Coming to Panama, I understood that it would be much different than in the United States, and I welcomed that change. I wanted to experience life in a different place, with a different history, and a different perspective. I have grown significantly from this experience, and I know I will continue to grow and change during the rest of my semester here in Bocas del Toro. The people I have met here have become my family, and I know that I have a massive support system within the SFS community.
SFS as a whole has been an unforgettable experience, and over the course of the semester, I will continue to appreciate all the amazing things that I will do as a SFS student. If you are looking for an unforgettable and unique study abroad experience, the School for Field Studies is the perfect program. There are so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I have been able to take part in due to the programs that SFS offers, and I will always remember my semester in Bocas del Toro.