Adventures and Tribulations in the Australian Rainforest Past Review

By (Environmental studies, History, Wellesley College) - abroad from 02/04/2013 to 05/09/2013 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 got to live in a tropical rainforest, which was an amazing and singular experience that I will never forget. I also formed great friendships with other American students from all over the US.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Not as academically challenging as Wellesley.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration of SFS is in need of numerous small improvements. The program was incredibly structured, leaving little time for free time and homework. The schedule often changed without much prior notice. The program director was not very present or active, but only served to administer punishments and give chiding lectures. The research interns were excellent and very supportive to the students. Program policies were incredibly unclear and contradictory with regard to curfew and the alcohol policy.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The 8-person cabins that students live in are definitely austere - somewhat moldy and a bit dirty, lacking bug screens on some of the windows. There was no privacy whatsoever. However, students didn't really spend much time in them anyway.

* Food:

The cook was amazing and meals were pretty varied. Desserts and vegetarian meals were excellent. Breakfast and lunch were very repetitive.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living in the rainforest with American students often made me feel very isolated from Australian culture, however, community service days offered great opportunities to engage with the community. I regret that I was not able to get to know young Australians, however, because we only interacted with older adults.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There are a lot of animals and other things in the rainforest that can be dangerous, but the administration makes you well aware of how to avoid getting bit by a snake, etc.

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)

Australia is incredibly expensive. Didn't spend hardly any money during program time, but spent a lot traveling afterward, during spring break, and weekends.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $40?


* 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Living in the rainforest
  • Field work
  • Intimacy - lots of time spent around fellow students
* What could be improved?
  • Administrative policy
  • Professors
  • Daily schedule
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how intensely scheduled almost every day of this program is. I didn't anticipate that I would often feel like a child at summer camp, with almost no freedom, but I suppose that is the price one pays to live in a rainforest.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Tropical Rainforest Ecology

Course Department:
Instructor: Sigrid Heise-Pavlov
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Excellent professor, very enthusiastic, prepared, and knowledgeable. Great and relevant field exercises. Decent amount of class participation. Fair grading.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Socioeconomic Values and Environmental Policy

Course Department:
Instructor: Justus Kithiia
Instruction Language: English
Comments: A very disappointing course. The professor was not very prepared, not very knowledgeable, and had trouble communicating clearly. The lectures were very brief and superficial and went into little detail. The assignments were not always relevant, and the expectations for assignments was not made clear. The professor graded inconsistently and with a bias. Field exercises were relevant.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Forest Management

Course Department:
Instructor: Catherine Pollman
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was reasonably challenging. The professor is incredibly knowledgeable, and good at one-on-one advising. However, the professor is very reserved and shy, which made class pretty dull. The professor was not very supportive to her directed research students, and the projects of a lot of students suffered for this reason. Field exercises were engaging and relevant.
Credit Transfer Issues: