Posted: September 10, 2018
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First Impressions of Bhutan


As the Fall 2018 SFS students begin to settle into their new homes around the world, we asked them to share their impressions of the experience so far. Erin Baggs had this to say about SFS Bhutan:

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I applied for SFS because it is an organization not affiliated with my university (and did not take place at one), and its main focus is environmentally related. I chose the Bhutan program because it seemed to fit all of my study abroad needs perfectly. I wanted to be studying in Asia following a fairly structured, hands on/outdoor intensive curriculum. I am interested in ecology, and the Mountain Ecology course stood out to me from the rest of the programs. The other courses also aligned with my interests more than the courses in the other SFS locations.

What are your first impressions of the country?
The country is so beautiful, I am still in awe of the mountains and fields even almost a week after arriving. Everyone is so warm and welcoming from the schoolchildren walking as we drive by to the woman selling me shampoo in the mini mart. So many people wave or say hi and it’s a nice environment to be in. I was really surprised to see so many stray dogs and so much trash lining the streets leading up to the center. While I understand that the country is still traditionally very modest, I was also surprised to see how differently people dress in town. Some wear kiras and ghos, but others are dressed in more western clothing/brands.

What are your first impressions of the Center?
I really like the SFS center. It is great to be a short walk from Paro and still remain somewhat secluded. The building has a really nice set up: a common room close to our dorms, a quiet study room, a classroom and bathrooms all along the way. The dorms are a good size and having a personal bathroom in each dorm is also a plus (I guess I’m into the frequency of bathrooms). All of the faculty and staff have been tremendously gracious, and the food is amazing! The only negatives I have about it are the thin walls and slippery stairs, but other than that I really have no complaints. Having Maybe the dog around is wonderful and he makes each room he walks into a little brighter. I am overall very pleased with the center as my home for the next three months.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester, both academically and culturally?
Academically, I think I will struggle with time management the most this semester (something I struggle with most semesters), especially because I will be navigating exploring a new country along with classwork. I worry about finding a balance between going out into town/on excursions during my free time and staying at the center to study, learn and build relationships with my professors.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am honestly looking forward to just about everything. We just had our academic orientation for each course and I am so excited to start next week. I think it will be really interesting to see how the content of the classes are interwoven, and I really look forward to engaging with the professors on each topic. I am eager to learn environmental rhetoric and policy from a different perspective. Along with academic work, I am really excited to explore, hike and experience a new place with new friends.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Intrigued, adjusting, content.

→ Himalayan Environment and Development Studies in Bhutan

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