Posted: November 11, 2016
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The 411 on “SFS Time”


It has been an exhausting past two weeks. Studying until the wee hours for finals, our minds are now mush. That being said, having just finished our core courses of the semester, the 17 of us are now diving headfirst into our Directed Research fieldwork and assignments. Up until now, the whole lot of us have had the same classes, our alarms set for more or less the same times, the bags under our eyes equally prominent, and our movie repertoire homogenizing at an incredible pace. The beginning of DRs marks when we will diverge and disperse into separate schedules, wavelengths, and experiences.

One group is working with Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo, observing the behavior of a mother and her newborn joey, and learning about the establishment of the LTK into the ongoing regeneration of the corridor around Peterson Creek. Another group is working with secondary rainforest succession and the alternative stable states of wet sclerophyll forest. The last is giving social surveys and exploring the draws of aboriginal tourism, determining the success of different tourism companies and communities.

Daintree foliage

As we shift apart in our research, it is interesting looking back on our time spent together at the Center and at how we have changed to adapt to the SFS lifestyle. There is no denying that SFS can be a bubble. At the Center, we are 17 students, four faculty members, staff, one Student Affairs Manager (SAM) and one intern. Unlike many people who visit Australia, we spend more time with each other than we spend with new faces.

We have come from different places, communities, and situations to live and study together for three months. It is rare that such a large group of people can live congruent lives for so long. We have all abandoned our home schedules and sense of time for “SFS time.” SFS time has different markers from normal time. We all know that when Greg wears his turquoise shirt, it’s a fieldwork day. When Chris snaps his fingers, it’s story time (“time to set the scene”). Whenever you hear a perfect harmony, you know that Luke and Sylvie are having a great time singing, and when there is a free Sunday, or any amount of free time at all on any day of the week, it’s volleyball time.

Local ice cream from Shaylee’s strawberry farm

Indigenous textile art exhibit at Cairns Gallery

As we all move into our independent research, this shared schedule will be less universal among us. The DRs may serve as a transition between living in synchronicity and going back to our individual lives and different ways of telling time. We will all be leaving “SFS time” behind, and replacing it with that of our own hometowns, schools, and families.

Behind Foodworks in Yungaburra

A local tree surrounded by DBH measurements

Danbulla State Forest

Allocasuarina torulosa seed pod

→ Tropical Rainforest Studies in Australia

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