By: Aaron Henderson, PhD

Posted: February 7, 2014
Back to Blog Archive
Faculty Post

First Impressions of SFS Australia


Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I wanted my study abroad experience to be a worthwhile endeavor.  I was not interested in simply studying at a different university in another country.  When searching for a place to study abroad, I asked myself, “What does this program give you that you can’t get at home?”  My research showed the same basic answers: experience another culture, meet new people, and travel to some cool destinations. However, the education was just the same as I would have taken at my own school—classroom lectures and possibly a lab for a science class.  Then I heard about SFS.  It sounded like a dream.  Living in the environment you’re studying is the ideal way to learn.  I couldn’t get this type of immersion at my school.  The Directed Research is also a bonus. As scientists, research experience is key to moving ahead in the field. Besides a great education, SFS offers cultural connections, travel opportunities, and exposure to new people and ideas, so students aren’t isolated at the research station. It’s the best of both worlds.

What are your first impressions of the country?
When I got off the plane in both Brisbane and Cairns, my first thoughts were about how green and healthy it looked, even for an airport!  When we traveled to the research station, I took note that they drive on the opposite side of the road and have different pictures for their road signs and weird names for towns and streets.  Australia is certainly more environmentally friendly, and the Aussie slang will take some getting used to. All in all, it’s familiar yet new.  I already feel very comfortable and after hearing about some of the places around Australia, I know it’s full of adventures just waiting to be undertaken.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
Magnificent, gorgeous, basic yet homey.  I am awed by the fact that I have to walk down a trail surrounded by luscious tropical forest to get to the Center from my cabin.  I am surrounded by green growth and the musical noises of the fauna.  Iris, the cook, makes the most delicious meals, and the staff here is so welcoming and friendly.  The only downside is the terrestrial leeches, which are harmless yet annoying on wet days.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically, I think the biggest challenge will be the Directed Research project.  I haven’t undertaken something like this before so the experience will be fun but full of hard work.  The Aussie language will be a challenge culturally!  I wish I had a dictionary.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
What I am looking forward to the most is going to Cairns for a Great Barrier Reef snorkel trip.  Not only has it been a dream of mine to snorkel there for years, but many of us are planning to go together so it will be a bonding experience for us.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
At home, inspired, happy

Related Posts

Student Post


May 8, 2024
Student Post

An Extremely Detailed Day in the Life at SFS Panama

April 10, 2024
Student Post

Choosing SFS Panama (being torn between a traditional European study abroad)

April 10, 2024