Alumni Spotlight: Sean Cloran

Sean is a Biology major concentrating in Ecology at UMass Lowell, looking to enter a career in Sustainable Development and Ecological Restoration.

Why did you choose this program?

It gave me the chance to see Peru, a country rich in culinary traditions, history, and ecology. Additionally, the program itself provides the opportunity to both study and do research in the field.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

SFS gave a comprehensive packing list to us, which prepared us for everything we faced. Additionally, they had everything during the semester planned out to a T, so the only things that the students had to organize were plans for the mid-semester break and post-semester time.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be kind to everyone and careful in your actions, for chances are they'll be kind to you. I had heard that crime would be a prevalent factor in studying abroad but was not robbed or even pickpocketed once.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Eight hours of "class" per day, which could either be in the classroom or in the field, which makes that amount of time seem much less daunting! Class is typically six days per week, so Sundays are often free days for everyone to relax and catch up on.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was scared that I would not be able to learn Spanish, and thus not be able to communicate with people from Peru. Through the help of the program and just day-to-day attempts to speak the language, I picked up a capable understanding of the language!

What types of wildlife did you see?

Hummingbirds of all colors and shapes, everywhere.

In the Andes, there were condors, cattle, Polylepis trees, llamas, alpacas, horses, and viscacha. These animals were way more agile than I had thought was possible, being able to scale mountainous faces and blaze their own trails.

In the Amazon basin, there were birds of all shapes, sizes, songs, and colors. There were lines of army ants, leaf cutter ants, and termites crossing trails, jaguar prints left in the mud, and monkeys in the canopy. Insects of all kinds fly around, and whenever a blue Morpho would float through all conversation would stop. The trees and vegetation are all lush, there were bioluminescent fungi and sensitive leaves that folded up when you touched them. It was like being surrounded by life, to an extent never experienced before!