Living and studying in the rainforest was awesome. Past Review

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/10/2013 to 12/13/2013 with

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Australia & New Zealand - Rainforest Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned about how to navigate a foreign place, how to meet new people, how to live in the rainforest, how to carry out an independent research project, how to write a scientific paper, and how to immerse myself in the culture and lifestyle. Everything was worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The program was easier than my home institution. The exams, assignments, and lectures were generally easier and students had more free time to explore the study abroad location. It was much more relaxed. I will say that the last month of the program, when students were carrying out their independent research projects, it was rigorous and intense. That month was a lot of work and just as challenging as my home institution.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall, the program was well-administered. Lectures were on time, field trips and different activities were organized, and mostly everything was taken care for us. They did treat students like children sometimes with their early curfews on the weekends and sometimes there was a lack of communication between the staff and students but other than that, it was good.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

For being in the rainforest, they were very good. Students shared a cabin with 7 other students, had their own drawers and bed. The bathrooms were communal and cleaned weekly by the students themselves. Living arrangements were rustic but we embraced it since we lived in the rainforest.

* Food:

The cook's food was always delicious. She prepared great meals for dinner every single day. I had no complaints and I am a picky eater. I though breakfast and dinner were fine, but found lunch very annoying. The options were always sandwiches or wraps, and it was always the same ingredients. If you did not like or got tired of salami, ham, lettuce and beets, then you had nothing to eat. I did not like lunch.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This question is difficult because we spent the majority of our time in the property owned by The School for FIeld Studies, which is about a 25 minute drive from the nearest town. When visiting the big cities, I felt like a tourist but in the small towns, we integrated with the local culture. We spoke with community members, had meetings with them, went to local businesses, volunteered at the town folk festival, we were part of the community.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The staff and faculty were very clear about the health issues we could face during our time there. There was an entire day to discussing these issues and solutions or ways to avoid the issues. They told us about too much sun exposure, dangerous animals, insect bites, dehydration, and diseases carried by mammals. We were well informed and they were very attentive if we did not feel good or if we felt ill. They would help us feel better and guide us to the right medication or provide us with the medication.

* Safety:

The property owned by the School for Field Studies is rainforest and the only people who access it are faculty, staff and students. It was the safest place to be apart from snakes, ticks, spiders and other animals. The towns surrounding the property are also very safe and the people are very nice. They are small towns with hardly any crime.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Students were responsible for their personal expenses like for toiletries and souvenirs and if they wanted to buy their own food or own meals at times. We traveled to the city twice and stayed overnight, so students had to pay for their own accommodations. Some tours and evening activities towards the end of the program were not free and students had to pay if they wanted to attend (bat hospital, koala world and wildlife sanctuary). We also had a break where students were responsible for their transportation, food, accommodations and plans for 5 days. All of this added up and it was a bit expensive for a student's budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50 Australian dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Do not spend too much in the beginning of the program because you will need money for the remainder of your time there and especially at the end, when money seems to run out. Avoid spending money on food when possible, because the program gives you food. The group flight is very expensive, see if you can organize your own flight arrangements.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The field trips and outings
  • The rainforest
  • The courses
* What could be improved?
  • Communication between faculty and students
  • The strict rules and curfews they have
  • Lunch
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That it was going to be very hot and to bring more shorts. That the 5 day break was very expensive. That prices were higher in Australia. That the property and surrounding towns are very safe and free from crime. That I should have learned how to swim before the program started so that I could have snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!