Why did you pick an SFS program? What were some of your favorite things about your program in Turks and Caicos and what will you miss most?
I picked an SFS program because this experience is like no other. SFS provides a unique path into a new culture, a new life, and education both in and out of the classroom. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and living among the island community while learning from the environment itself was truly life changing. I absolutely loved being able to experience the ocean as my classroom and will never forget getting in the water for the first time. Being able to swim up right next to gorgeous coral reefs and beautiful fish was unreal. I will definitely miss waking up to the gorgeous sunrises and hearing the waves every night when I went to bed.
The author on a snorkel. Photo provided by Jenna Landgraf.
What piece of advice would you share with a future SFS student coming to your program?
My advice to new students is to make every second count. Live in the moment and just enjoy your time. The trip goes by so quickly that you really just have to be present. Lay out by the pool with a book. Lounge in the hammocks with your friends. Watch the sunset at the pier or the jetty. Go out and meet the local people. If you let yourself become completely immersed in the experience, you’ll forget to check your phone and you’ll just live.
The author at sunset. Photo provided by Jenna Landgraf.
What’s the first story you’re going to tell your friends and family?
The first story I’m going to tell my friends and family is about the night snorkel we went on. Before this trip, I had never been snorkeling, and especially had never gone swimming in the ocean at night. I was nervous, but my friends and the waterfront assistants really helped to make me feel comfortable and excited. I ended up seeing so many things. We saw a giant lobster, a few octopuses, and even a sleeping sea turtle. That experience made me realize that it’s good to do things that both scare you and excite you because that’s when you make the best memories.
The author exploring South Caicos. Photo provided by Jenna Landgraf.
What three adjectives best describe how you are feeling right now?
Right now, I feel deeply happy, renewed, and bittersweet. I am so happy about the way this trip influenced my day-to-day routine and my overall mindset on life. I spent every day simply doing what makes me happy and living the island life with the most amazing people. I’m renewed in my passions and goals for my future. I hope to go on more trips like this and possibly even go down a career path in environmental education. These last moments at the center are also extremely bittersweet. I’ve had the experience of a lifetime and I wouldn’t change a moment of it for anything, but it’ll be tough to go back to reality after this unbelievable opportunity.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I can’t put into words my feelings about this experience and my gratitude for everyone that made it possible. SFS TCI truly changed my life and was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve been blessed to have. I would recommend this trip to anyone looking for a once in a lifetime experience where you get to meet the most awesome people, use nature as your classroom, and take a step away from your regular routine to grow as a person. Big South forever and always.
Photo provided by Jenna Landgraf.
Curious to learn a bit more about the SFS Turks and Caicos Center? Click here to read about why we’re based there, our environmental research focus, how we connect and support the local community, and even take a tour of the Center.