TCI: Best Summer of my Life Past Review

By (Environmental Studies, Dickinson College) for

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?
My student abroad experience was amazing and changed me not only as a student but also as a person. I would recommend Turks and Caicos to anyone interested in a hands-on outdoors experience that is truly once in a lifetime. It has made me more excited about my major and I would love to go back someday.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload in the SFS TCI program is engaging and exciting throughout the entire course. All of the time spent in the classroom connects directly to fieldwork that is literally right outside in the water and local community. The professors are all highly experienced and use hands-on methods of teaching students about ecology, marine biology, and environmental protection policies. The majority of course expectations are made explicitly clear and should be manageable for any college student.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The host country, Turks and Caicos, is a small island developing state with a struggling economy dependent on tourism and the fishing industry. Students should be prepared to spend time in the equivalent of a third world country on the less populated island of South Caicos. Nevertheless, the facilities at SFS provide all the basic amenities needed for a focused experience on marine biology. The local islanders have a great relationship with the students in the program and it is easy to get to know a lot about the TCI culture. TCI is a stunningly beautiful environment with an interesting history that is developing to catch up with the rest of the world's tourism industry. The coral reefs and mangrove forests are easily accessible from the center and make for fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving experiences. The facilities at SFS are all very clean and eco-friendly as well. The program size is ideal, usually between 25 and 30 during the summer which makes for the formation of close bonds and lasting friendships.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The facilities at SFS are dorm-style with 3-4 members per room in bunk beds. It is recommended to bring mosquito nets for comfortable sleeping at night. The rooms are located right on the center property and there were no issues with safety or theft whatsoever.

* Food:

There are food options offered for everyone through the SFS program included both vegetarian and vegan choices. The food is quite good and on weekends students usually help cook/clean with members of the staff. There are three meals per day and one post-snorkel snack in the afternoon. Throughout the island there are multiple small convenience stores were students can support the local economy and buy goods like candy and ice cream. One of the best spots to try some local cuisine is Darryl's (the best conch).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Socially, it was fantastic to meet people in my program who were from all over the US. Everyone brought something different to the table and the staff at SFS promoted a lot of activities to get the students to know each other. There is plenty of free time offered to go to the beautiful beaches and snorkel with friends. The nightlife is constricted to a few nearby town bars but they are very safe and tend to be a good time when everyone goes out together.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

South Caicos was relatively safe at all hours but at night it is usually best for students to travel in groups. There aren't many street lights and though it is a small island it would be safer to not walk alone. Health-wise, it would be in one's best interest to avoid getting injured seeing as it is a helicopter ride away from a fully equipped hospital. There weren't any vaccines required for this program.

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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Proximity to coral reefs, beautiful dive sites
  • Meeting diverse people from all over with similar interests
  • Hands-on learning opportunities
* What could be improved?
  • SFS's explanation of conditions to students before the apply that living on TCI is not a glamourous experience but rather simple