By: Justus Kithiia, PhD

Posted: September 8, 2016
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Faculty Post

First Impressions of Panama


SFS Panama students have begun settling into their home for the semester. We asked Andrew Levorse about his first impressions of his new surroundings; here’s what he had to say.

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I have always had a passion for field work, so SFS immediately caught my attention. The environmentally focused curriculum looks like it will touch upon the ecological topics that highly interest me. Furthermore, SFS seems to incorporate social and cultural aspects into the semester, and I look forward to learning about those aspects in tandem with the science of the area.

What are your first impressions of the country?
Panama is a wonderful country! The people seem to be genuinely interested in the work that SFS is doing, and they are continuously engaging us in conversations about our goals for the semester. I also love the beautiful landscapes Panama has to offer, and I look forward to learning more about the biodiversity here.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
I think the field station is more of a resort than a station! The placement of the station on Isla Colón allows us to be connected to the local community, but the station is also surrounded by a rainforest. You can easily hear howler monkeys and a variety of birds just outside the walls of the station. Its “backyard” is also perfect for snorkeling in my free time!

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically, I think it will be challenging to focus on homework while surrounded by so many fun people and activities. Culturally, I think it might be challenging to hear criticisms about ecotourists. I can’t empathize with living in such a tourist hotspot, but I have been an ecotourist in other locations and might feel embarrassed about what the locals have to say.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am looking forward to building unforgettable social connections, not only with the SFS staff and students, but also with the local community members. Building these connections will hopefully allow me to learn tons of things about the environment, but also about myself!

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Optimistic, excited, overwhelmed (in a good way!)

→ Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies in Panama

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