By: Genesis Kebede

Posted: November 9, 2021
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Letter to a Prospective Student


Being here has truly made me feel like I am a part of something so special.


I know applying to study abroad can be exciting yet terrifying and that you might not know exactly what you
want out of a study abroad experience. That is completely normal. I was just like you only a few
months ago–not knowing where exactly I wanted to go or what program I wanted to do. However, I can
say with full certainty that the moment I walked through the gates of SFS Panama’s Tropical Island Biodiversity
Studies Center I knew that this was exactly where I was meant to be. From the warm welcome of the
campus dogs (Webster, Simba, and JB), to the beautiful scenery that welcomed me in, I knew that I had
made the right choice.

I chose SFS Panama because I am interested in marine and forest ecology and Panama was the perfect
combination. Here, I am able to go snorkeling with stingrays and nurse sharks and the next day go on
night hikes with sloths and howler monkeys. I couldn’t have done this anywhere else. I quite literally get
the best of both worlds here. I also must mention that there is truly no better feeling than when we come back from a busy day of snorkeling and Hugo has made the most delicious meal for dinner. You will never go hungry
at the center–from sancocho to grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Students after completing their dive certification. (Photo: Genesis Kebede).

Being here has truly made me feel like I am a part of something so special–nothing could ever ruin it.
Even the stormy nights and tough days could never outweigh the joy that this program has given me.
This program will not only give you an opportunity to learn about the environment and conservation
efforts first-hand, but it also gives you the blessing of friendship with your peers and professors. I have
met some of the best people I have ever known here. You will create deep and meaningful connections
here that will last a lifetime.

Students at the top of Volcan Baru. (Photo: Genesis Kebede).
There really aren’t enough words to put together to describe how much I love this place and these
people. The semester isn’t even over yet and I know that the memories I have made here will be with
me for the rest of my life. I hope that whatever program you choose will bring you as much joy and as many
happy memories as the SFS Panama program has given me.


Curious to learn a bit more about the SFS Panama Center? Click here to read about why we’re based there, our environmental research focus, how we connect and support the local community, and even take a tour of the Center.

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