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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Jenny Lau

Chicago, Illinois

Major in Environmental Studies, Minors in Anthropology & Sociology and Chinese

Jenny spent fall term studying the environment at a tropical rainforest field station in Australia.

Jenny Lau picking coffee cherry in Wondecla, Australia.

Describe your study abroad program.

Picture yourself walking through a rainforest. There is a pademelon to your right, a brush turkey to your left, a cockatoo screaming high above and a hungry tiger leech crawling down below. That's what I saw almost every day. Many study abroad programs involve students living with a host family or living in a college dorm, but I was able to live in a field station in a rainforest. I was able to do that by studying in The School for Field Studies- Australia: Tropical Rainforest Studies program. The School for Field Studies (SFS) was a three month experience dedicated to learning about the rainforest and environmental policies. I chose this program because I always wanted to visit Australia and I was lucky because Australia had a program that taught all environmental studies classes.

How did Knox prepare you for study abroad?

I have taken multiple environmental studies classes at Knox so when I was sitting in class or when we went on excursions, I was able to understand what my professors were talking about. Knox also prepared me for smaller classes because in my program there were only 15 students and that allowed me to get to know my peers better.

How do you see your experience abroad having an impact on your future plans?

My study abroad experience made me even more determined to help fight climate change. When I was given an assignment to find a Lumholtz tree-kangaroo, I wasn't able to find a wild one. My class and I had to go to an animal caretaker to see a tree-kangaroo. I learned that they are especially vulnerable to climate change because they depend on trees to survive.

What surprised you about study abroad?

I was surprised to see how well I adapted to living in a rainforest. When I first arrived, I thought I was going to miss home, but that was not the case. I was surprised to see how well I did without constantly checking social media. I was able to put my phone on airplane mode and read books for fun.

Photo Above: Jenny picking coffee cherries in Wondecla, Australia, which are invasive to the rainforest.

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Printed on Monday, May 20, 2024