Within the Rainforest

11 Mar


photo credit to Kara Chester
photo credit to Kara Chester


Hello all, it has been awhile.  I have been off the grid due to our poor and sometimes lack of Internet at my current location.  My study abroad program has been going on for about a month now and is in full swing.  My program is through the School for Field Studies (SFS).  We are located in the Atherton Tablelands among the World Heritage listed rainforest of Australia.  The closest town is 15 minutes away.  The best way to describe my current situation is isolated. 

However, I am not alone.  I share the field center with 30 other students (There are 7 guys and 24 girls this semester, which seems to be a common trend), 4 interns, 3 professors, a cook, a maintenance worker, and the field center director.  Within the last month I have become really close to everyone here, and I am looking forward to spending the next few months here.  The center is becoming home to me and everyone else. 

The only way to reach the center is to travel through the windy back roads of the Gilly’s Highway.  Then you must enter the site by driving on a gravel road through the middle of the rainforest, while making sure to not run over any pythons.  The gravel road opens up to a perfect view of the center’s nursery for plants, and then around the bend is the main building of the center.  We have our meals and classes at the main building.  Within the main building is our classroom for lectures, the computer room, and the common room. 

It is around a 5 minute walk from the main building through the jungle to the guys’ cabin.  Unfortunately for the women, they have a 10-15 minute walk up a monstrous hill to their cabins.  The guys are allowed to shower at the main building, but the gals must shower up by their cabins. 

We have three separates classes this semester: Rainforest Ecology, Natural Resource Management, and Socio-Economics.  Each class is unique in its content, but they all relate to the rainforest.  These classes will last one more month, and then we will have our final exams.  After the classes are over, we begin our own directed research.  This research relates to one of the three professors own research, but we do have some flexibility with the specific scientific question we get to ask. 

Though we have a large amount of schoolwork, most of us did not come halfway across the world to spend our entire time studying.  We are always finding new ways to enjoy ourselves.  From watching Game of Thrones to doing zumba (Yes, I have done zumba), everyone is always hanging out with one another.  We have also been on some exciting trips, which I will talk about in my next blogs.


photo credit to Kara Chester

photo credit to Kara Chester

The opportunities here and the experiences I have already gained are beyond my initial expectations (Though as you know from my first blog, were not that specific).  Studying abroad is opening my eyes to the possibilities for my future.  We visited a fruit farm the other day, and the owner gave us some insightful advice.  He said, “Get a life, not a career.”  Though these words are simple, they are very perceptive.  I believe that studying abroad is showing me the importance of living and enjoying each day rather than working to enjoy the future.



One Response to “Within the Rainforest”

  1. Jane Farr March 13, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Nice post, Matt! Thank you for giving us a glimpse into life at the research center. Miss you!

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