By: Marta Brill

Posted: May 8, 2015
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Alumni Post

Final Impressions of SFS Peru


What did you like most about the SFS experience?
I loved getting to experience a different culture, language, and environment. To call the Amazon rainforest home is something that is a once in a lifetime experience. The hands-on experiences that SFS gave me are skills I will carry with me far after this program ends. Between going frog-catching at night, butterfly-catching in the day, hiking for class, and doing labs in the field, SFS definitely always kept things interesting and exciting to learn.

You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
Peru is a beautiful country that is rich in culture, heritage, and stories. Getting to experience both the city of Cusco and the remoteness of the field station gave me multiple perspectives of this country that cannot be derived from the pages of a book. While this field station let me fully appreciate the beauty of the Amazon, Cusco allowed me to apply what I learned in the classroom and to fully immerse myself within the people of Peru.

What is life at the field station really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts of living at a remote field station?
The best part about living at this station is being able to, at any time, stop and listen to nature and only nature. Because the sounds of cars and civilization do not exist to confound the sounds of the environment, we were able to simply be in the Amazon. The most challenging part of living at this field station was the isolation from home and from current events. It’s easy to live here in blissful unawareness that the rest of the world continues on.

What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
It was challenging to apply all of our lessons in the field, but completely rewarding to gain these skills. I would spend long hours going out into the field to collect my own specimens for Directed Research, which was tiring, hot, and ultimately, completely fulfilling and empowering. I was able to look at my research and feel that I was 100% involved in every step, which made me feel proud of the work I had accomplished. Culturally, it was difficult to overcome the language barrier in Peru. Despite taking Spanish in previous schooling, it was challenging to effectively communicate with the native people.

What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
Climbing Machu Picchu was definitely the highlight of my semester. To be able to experience this wonderful place together with the people on my program was very rewarding. Simply standing in a place of so much history, culture, and life was something I will never forget.

Give three adjectives that best describes how you are feeling right now.
Bittersweet, excited, happy

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