Posted: September 18, 2012
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First Impressions: SFS Australia



Name: Erica Nangeroni
Bowdoin College
Biology/Environmental Studies
Tropical Rainforest Studies, Australia


Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?

In looking at study abroad programs, I found that SFS offers a unique experience that does not match many other programs that exist. I was drawn to SFS because of the strong academic focus that comes with it being a non-university and field based program. The opportunity to do hands-on research and have field experience in a new environment was very enticing and one of the main reasons that I chose to study abroad with SFS. The other big component was the involvement of community service and the community mindset that SFS embraces. Not many study abroad programs, either at a university or field studies, offer the opportunity to volunteer and get involved with the surrounding communities but that is an important part of SFS programs, no matter where the location. Overall, SFS provided a combination of all the important aspects that I was looking for in a study abroad program without limiting location or program choice.

 width=What are your first impressions of the country?

My first impression of Australia has been one of beauty and friendliness. I have had nothing but pleasant interactions with Australians and the surrounding communities have been quite welcoming to us as a group and just genuinely very kind. I also feel a strong sense of community within the Yungaburra area that the locals are willing to extend to travelers, which was quite comforting and certainly made me want to return. Additionally, there are so many beautiful and unique sites that have instilled a desire to explore the area in depth to see what else I can find to add to my experience thus far!

What are you first impressions of the field station?

Driving to the field station from the airport, I truly did not know what to expect so it came as quite a shock when we turned off the highway onto a dirt road that led us through the rainforest. My very first though was that the field station seems a bit isolated but after spending just a day there, I realized the location of the field station is going to make for an unforgettable experience. The fact that we are located actually in the rainforest provides us with the chance to become a tight-knit group with incredible research opportunities. After only a few days, the field station already feels like a small community of our own that we are going to get more comfortable with and learn so much about, which I’m really looking forward to.

 width=What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?

Academically, I think that my biggest challenge will be to write in a concise manner, especially scientifically. With all the new and diverse species that we are being introduced to in the rainforest, it will be difficult to choose which species to write about and ensure that I am reporting the most important information about said species. There is a lot of excitement surrounding all of the new information that we are going to be absorbing and with that excitement comes the desire to share all of this new knowledge; the challenge will be to share the information that is most important and filter out less important, even if interesting, details to be as concise as possible.

Culturally, I think a big challenge may be an appreciation for the location of my program at all times. I’m sure that at times the field station can feel a bit restricting because of the location but I want to ensure that I fully appreciate the rainforest surrounding us and the rich history and culture of the surrounding towns.

 width=What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?

At this point, I am most excited to learn about this new environment that I will be living in, both the scientific and social environments. I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone in the program because we have a really great group of students and staff and I know that the more comfortable we get with each other, the more fun we will have. I’m also really looking forward to exploring the new scientific environment that we are living in because the rainforest is home to so many diverse species, so many of which I have never encountered before.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.

Enthusiastic, open-minded, and adventurous.

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