By: Lora Doughty

Posted: March 2, 2021
Back to Blog Archive
Staff Post

The Outdoor Classroom


By far the best part about living at a field station has been the accessibility of outdoor learning.

– Lauren, SFS Turks & Caicos Islands

Bored on your couch again? Stuck in the same old sweats? Spending your cloistered pandemic hours imagining your next travel adventure? Every time I turn on my computer, I find myself staring longingly at the stunning pictures on the login screen – turquoise rivers winding through misty mountain landscapes, glorious sunsets, or vibrant glimpses into other cultures. Or on Instagram, I drool over pictures of happy faces in faraway places. Remember travel?

Enter the light at the end of the tunnel – study abroad. It’s happening! And SFS is offering more than 15 semester and summer study abroad programs this year in locations like Kenya, Costa Rica, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The good thing about studying abroad with SFS during a pandemic? By nature (see what I did there?), SFS study abroad programs take place in the outdoors and there are a variety of engaging outdoor possibilities on every campus.




Since our founding – way back in the early 80s – SFS has embraced an experiential learning model with study abroad programs based in a variety of fascinating ecosystems around the world. We like to get students out of the proverbial classroom, into the great outdoors, and teach them the skills needed to solve real-world environmental challenges. Through field lectures and exercises, SFS professors connect students with the natural world so they can learn directly about what it can teach us.

From a family of elephants crossing a dusty road at sunset, to a cackle of hyenas returning to their den for the night; from flamingo wading in the shallow waters to hippos emerging from the waters as dusk quickly approached – the large mammals were stunning, the birds were breathtaking, and the landscapes left us speechless.

– Conner, SFS Kenya

Students have field lectures on all SFS study abroad programs and some of our favorite field lecture locations include the African savanna, Himalayan mountains, ancient rainforests and temples, an island full of penguins, or even floating over a coral bed.










Almost all our campuses have either an outdoor classroom and/or an outdoor dining area that can be used as a classroom. The few that don’t, have open-air, well ventilated indoor classrooms. Yes – much of your learning happens in the field, but it’s also important to set the stage using more traditional classroom learning through digital presentations or classroom activities. But this is still SFS, so you’re not going to be stuck in a tiny, stuffy, windowless classroom in the middle of the engineering building. Take our classroom in Panama for example – it juts away from the land and sits above the gently lapping waves off Isla Colón. Or our classroom in Bhutan, where windows provide views of densely forested mountains and prayer flags waving in the wind. In Costa Rica, our outdoor classroom is nestled at the edge of the forest where, if you’re lucky, you might even catch a sloth spying on class.



We can feel the ocean breeze as we sit next to the pool, hear the waves lap at the pilings of our outdoor classroom, listen to Spanish music coming from the kitchen before meals (which, by the way, have been delicious!)

– Rachel, SFS Panama



Some of our campuses are more remote than others – for example, our Peru Center is located over an hour by car from the nearest urban area and nestled at the edge of the Amazon rainforest whereas our Cambodia Center is based in the city of Siem Reap which is a popular tourist stopover for visits to the famous Angkor Wat temple complex. No matter the location there are a variety of outdoor activities and hang-out spaces on our campuses. Half of our campuses have a pool or are located oceanside, all campuses have space for your yoga practice, and depending on the campus there are soccer fields, basketball courts, running routes, ping pong tables, and certainly space to demonstrate your badminton or croquet prowess. If you want to learn more about what each campus offers, check out the Housing/Where You’ll Live section on program or center pages (here’s an example!) or drop us a line at admissions@sfstransfer.local.







Ready to figure out which SFS program is right for you? Head over to our Program Finder and explore! Ready to start your free application – click here.

Related Posts

Student Post


May 8, 2024
Student Post

The Art of Not Taking Photos

April 10, 2024
Student Post

An Extremely Detailed Day in the Life at SFS Panama

April 10, 2024