Spending the semester under the sea Past Review

By (Biological sciences, Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/07/2015 to 12/16/2015 with

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Turks and Caicos Islands - Marine Resource Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned about interacting with cultures very different from my own. I also learned that working with the ocean is absolutely something I want to do with the rest of my life.

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.

In general the classes weren't particularly hard, but there were a few points in the semester where we had assignments due for all courses at the same time, which made it difficult. The Directed Research part of the semester was amazing, and intense in just the right way. The professors were very supportive and I felt like I learned so much.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The center director was great and always there to talk/help when needed. The SAM at the time was not fantastic, and could have done more to help us get to know her/the island/the rest of the group. She treated us like we were much younger than we actually were.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We were on a tiny island. They weren't fantastic or anything, but we had our own bathroom which was nice. There's also more storage space based on what you would think from the program manual. The room is pretty small and there are bunk beds, but you spend so little time in there it doesn't matter.

* Food:

Considering the food comes on a boat once every two weeks (ideally) the cooks do a fantastic job with it. It gets repetitive after awhile, but none of it is actively bad. They're really great at accommodating vegetarians. There are very few options for getting food outside of the center on the island.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We had community engagement twice a week throughout the entire semester. A lot of it depended on how much effort you put into it. Some students got to know locals a lot better than others. We talked about the culture a lot in class, which was interesting

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There was a doctor on the island, and the clinic had hours every weekday. If there was ever an emergency (which there was not while I was there) the doctor could be called, or worst case the person could be med-vaced to the main island. They were always good about dealing with small things like ear infections that inevitably came up.

* Safety:

They kept us very safe. But at the same time, it felt like they were trying to put too many safety measures in place, considering most of us were 20+ years old. It was all with good intentions, but could get frustrating at times.

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

Even though there were frustrations during the program with rules and professors and other students (as is expected when you're only interacting with about 40 people for an entire semester), I got to spend time almost every single day in the water. I became a much better diver than I was before going. In addition, I learned field techniques, and got to research coral bleaching. South is a very particular place, and it's not for everyone. But, my goal when going abroad was to spend time on/in the ocean, and gain experience in that field, which I definitely did


* 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)

There was very little to spend money on here. If you chose to buy snacks/personal items that could get expensive (as everything is shipped from Miami and costs much more than it would in the states). The only thing people really spent money on was drinks during the weekend.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? about $15
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Bring snacks! Also, even though it costs money at the time ($200), getting advanced open water scuba certified is much cheaper there than most other places


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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?
  • Recreational dives about twice a week
  • The directed research portion of the program
  • field exercises that involved snorkeling
* What could be improved?
  • Staff should treat students more like adults, not like they expect us to do something wrong
  • Having curfew doesn't make for a better relationship between us and the locals, it just makes the locals amused with us.
  • Personally, I wish the program had been more academically challenging, but that may not be the view everyone has.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? In the brochure it seems like you'll have to wear long shorts and shirts that cover your shoulders very frequently. In reality, it was completely acceptable to walk into town wearing a tank top. It was only for community engagement that you needed to wear more modest clothes. Pack mostly tank tops! Especially for summer/fall programs. Also, take advantage of absolutely every opportunity to snorkel/dive. You'll get to the end of the semester and wish you'd gone more.

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:

Marine Resource Management

Course Department:
Instructor: Kathy Lockhart
Instruction Language:
Comments: Kathy is the most amazing person ever! She knows so much about her subject and the island, and is always happy to talk and answer questions. Make sure to take advantage of all that she has to offer while you're there
Credit Transfer Issues: