Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Pre Departure: Am I Supposed to be this nervous?!?!
According to my online class site I leave in 10 days for Little Cayman of the Cayman Islands for my Tropical Marine Conservation Study Abroad program. About a day ago it felt like it said 18 days and tomorrow it will probably be a day. I am not only dedicating every day to organizing my stuff, to checking and re-checking my flight information, to talking to my parents about the flight, to buying more and more and more stuff [including fins, mask, snorkle, waterproof journals, water boots, and tons more]that will most likely not fit into the required weight amount of my luggage, to reading about corals and conservation, and working on my project on sea turtles, but I am also dedicating a large portion of those days to being nervous.
This will be my first time in a new place without friends or family, and I have never been more frantic in my life, but I know that will be a large reason as to why this will be a great experience. I am a 21 year old sophomore, going on junior and I am ready to embark on an adventure that will expand both my knowledge of the oceans and my future. I am a marine biology major and involved in research with Paul Falkowski on corals and decalcification rates already. Although I love the lab and learning how research is constructed away from the environment, I feel I will be better equipped for this adventure and will enjoy the hands on experience I will get while being face to face with an actual reef, the biology within it, and their interactions. In addition to the diversity of the ocean, I have a love of all animal life and am excited to also see the largest breeding colony of Red Footed Bobbies, the Endangered West Indian Whistling duck, and iguanas. Although I did not at first plan to go on this study abroad program, it has already been the most rewarding experience already. Through applying and preparing for this program I noticed my love for the subject of conservation and see my future heading in that direction. There is more to the ocean then just one isolated organism and their components within and lab and I can’t wait to be apart of the dynamic of an ocean ecosystem.
Ever since I received my letter of acceptance to the Little Cayman Conservation coral reef project I have been wondering about what I could possibly see and do. When I think about Cayman, it’s not just a vacation, it’s an opportunity to be apart of something. In order to better explore the island I will be able to scuba dive in the diverse waters and reefs and not just snorkel. I will be spending 19 lovely days on the small, remote island of Little Cayman from June 18th to July 6th, and although my dad says Grand Cayman is amazing, I hope I am able to say Little Cayman is better. Although I’m sure the experience I have in comparison to his will be incredibly different. Little Cayman is only 10 miles long and 1 mile wide with a small population of 150 and only has one dirt road that circulates the island, while Grand Cayman I believe to be, well, Grand.
I've always loved marine organisms, so it was only natural that for my birthday I received a book called Sea Turtles: A complete guide to their biology, behavior, and conservation (As sea turtles are my ultimate favorite animal). It just so happens that one of the topics for my pre departure project was Sea turtles, biology and conservation. Despite the class mostly focusing on one of my favorite subjects, coral reefs and conservation, I will always have a great love for sea turtles and their majestic mystery. I wish I had months to prepare for this project, but I have so far loved every second of the knowledge part of the trip I have yet to depart on.
The knowledge I will gain is not the only thing I’ve been thinking about. I’m nervous for the shock of being secluded. Although I had lived in a small town my whole life, Cayman is larger and has a lot less people. I’m sure I will fair fine, but I’m interested to see how it turns out, how I will deal with the small airplane and small airport. I knew many people who previously had this class, but in no way can you ever be completely prepared for something like this.
On June 18th I will be afraid, I will board a plane alone, and probably have to keep telling myself to breathe during the whole duration of the flight. But one I am there all that nervousness will turn to pure excitement and all the franticness of the past few weeks will be worth it. One day I will look back on the experience and think about how nervous I was and that that was the beginning of my future.
I may be nervous; I may be scared out of my mind, but who isn’t.
Fun facts: the Cayman Islands were first called Las Tourtugas, or "The Turtles" when Columbus sailed by and his son noted two very small islands full of turtles.
And my favorite turtle fact, the gender of sea turtles depends upon the temperature of the incubation. The eggs on the inside would therefore usually become females, and the outside eggs become males.Tell your friends.
Today, June 8th, is World Oceans Day. Go to worldoceansday.org for more information!
Learn a new fact about the oceans and tell others!