A completely immersive education in environmental issues facing tropical areas. Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/02/2019 to 12/11/2019 with

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Panama - Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Extremely worthwhile. Although I do not want to study hard science in college, I found the experience working on a microbiology research project for nearly a month to be super valuable. It is very rare for undergrads to participate in such worthwhile research projects. While the project I was on did not end up getting published, we got to advise a local nonprofit on their coral0growing project, which I think created meaningful change in the community.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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

The locale, the professors and the staff made SFS Panama truly incredible. I wanted a fairly academic semester abroad, and SFS definitely delivered that. The academic program is rigorous, which is.a serious factor to consider when choosing an abroad program. But the long days in the field give you an opportunity to connect with the concepts you learn in class in real life. Life in Panama seems to move a bit slower, which was a welcome change from my typical life. I made life long friends and found another home in Bocas del Toro.


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Food was provided six days a week. On Sunday, I would go out to eat for two meals but I could usually spend under $15 dollars. I would say how much you spend is dependent on how much you want to go out, or if you want to get SCUBA certified.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

This program was not intended to be a foreign language program. However, we had twenty hours of Spanish at the start of the course. I had no prior experience and I feel as though I gained some important basic phrases.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • The Staff (The professors and SFS staff were amazing)
  • The Center (literally no better location)
  • My Peers (super engaged and from different backgrounds from my own)
* What could be improved?
  • opportunities for engagement with the community
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would have known a bit more Spanish going into it. I think that having optional Spanish for the remainder of the course, rather than just the first three weeks of the program. While Spanish was not needed for the course itself, I think I would have gotten more out of community interactions if I knew more Spanish.

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Tropical Coastal Ecology

Course Department:
Instructor: Carolyn Kovacs
Instruction Language:
Comments: This course was amazing! Great use of fieldwork/field trips and classroom instruction. I ended up doing field research with this professor because I loved it so much!
Credit Transfer Issues: