Peanut Butter and Jelly Stings

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Would you be tired after doing all of this? Flights from St. Thomas to New Jersey, New Jersey to Miami (5 am flight), and Miami to Providenciales. Wait, I’m not done. A 90-minute ferry ride from Providenciales to South Caicos, unload everyone’s luggage onto the truck, walk to the center, and unload the trucks. Looking back, it was easy compared to the activities that followed throughout the semester. The next day, we toured most of the town, met the potcakes (term for stray dogs in Turks and Caicos) and stray donkeys, spotted a flock of flamingos (did not expect flamingos in the Caribbean), and completed our swim evaluations. Since day one at the Center for Marine Resource Studies, we have been hustling and bustling. 

Over the next four weeks, we have continued to hustle and bustle. Classes occurred from 8 am until 6 pm, except for Wednesdays. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, students completed waterfront activities (i.e. diving and/or snorkeling) and community outreach. In addition to our regularly scheduled class activities, there were night courses for our PADI Open Water certification. I must admit that at times, I was overwhelmed and stressed. Back at Lafayette, I would have plenty of allotted free time where I could go to the gym, grab lunch with a friend, or head to an on-campus event of my choosing. The transition to a fixed full-day schedule was something that I did not anticipate. Nevertheless, I would remind myself that I have a duty to myself to remain focused. I’ve had a dream to be a marine biologist since second grade and I will not allow a hard week to throw out a lifetime’s work. 

Every week, I would take a picture of our updated communal whiteboard and coordinate a schedule that best suited me. It’s strange to only know about my week every Sunday before courses resume as well as have it constantly change due to the weather. The whiteboard schedule has also created a stronger accountability dynamic among the students. We are all here for different reasons, however, we want to see each other succeed. One example was a group report that required statistical analyses. I had prior experience with R Studio but that was many semesters ago. Rather than dwelling on the matter and further overwhelming our professors, the students tasked with coding compared our code and perfected it together. These moments of group initiative stand as steppingstones to becoming a more diligent student and reliable peer. I look forward to seeing the better versions of myself and my cohort at the end of the semester. 😊  

Before then, here’s some photos of my first couple weeks at South Caicos!

Every year, at least one student gets stung by a jellyfish. Upon hearing this from alumni, I laughed. I wondered to myself…who will be that person to stupidly get stung by a jellyfish. It was me. I was that person. On the fifth night at SFS, I decided to do a night snorkel with my peer. We were super duper excited to night snorkel for the first time. After five steps into the water (before I even put my fins on), I got stung by a BOX JELLYFISH! The pain was a mix of cramping and burning, but the urge to scratch was much worse. Nevertheless, I survived; we placed a towel drench with hot water and vinegar on the area. Ever since that incident, everyone has become scared to snorkel with me because they believe that the jellies are attracted to me. Maybe, I’ll turn all of the jellyfish into my henchmen and rule the world…just maybe.