As unlikely as it seems, it is finally time to start packing up. This entire semester has flown by, but even moreso, the last week and a half seemed to go at warp speed. We have been in a constant flurry of finishing our research, finalizing papers, posters, and presentations, before finally! finishing our work. After spending an entire semester working with whales, I am done.
Last Saturday was one of our first “This is our last…”. We went out to the dunes again, as an entire group (including most of our professors) to relax and enjoy the Pacific Ocean. We laid out, read, took walks, and dipped our toes in the ocean one last time. It was our last panga ride, and it was an adventure! It was quite windy in the morning, and it took us back to our first panga ride to go whale watching, when we all were rattled around. This was more mild, and certainly more fun. The waves were big, but they weren’t rattling. The dunes, as always, were beautiful, although because it was so windy, we all got very sandy.
That was our last time for relaxation as we headed into a week full of exams and stressful late nights working on research. Exams went surprisingly well, and it was a tremendous relief to know that we were done. Unlike college, however, it was frustrating to know that we would have more work to do even once we finished our tests. As soon as we did finish our tests, we went right back to revising our DR papers to hand them in – one last time. This was the final (written) hurdle of DR – perfecting our major research paper and ensuring that it was fit to print. We all stressed out about our tables, our figures, and if we had enough resources. The collective stress, had it been harnessed, could have powered the planet for a day. Nonetheless, in spite of all of this, we came out on the other side, glad that we were finally done writing on Monday morning. Monday, however, heralded more fun: a presentation of our project and the results to the entire group, including all of the professors. As nervous as I was about mine, it went very well, and I am very pleased. It was also incredible to hear about others’ research. Considering we’ve been living together for three months, it still astonished me how little I knew about the projects outside of my group. My roommate, for example, worked with octopuses, and believes that she may have identified a new species in Magdalena Bay! Considering the magnitude of that research, I couldn’t believe she and I hadn’t talked about it.
While it seemed (yet again) like we should be done with our projects after our presentations, this was still not the case: we next had to prepare a poster. We did not present our posters, which was a relief, but it does allow us to present our research to others, if we ever attend a conference. While a number of others think this is ridiculous, I thought it was really cool, and am considering presenting my poster at the WUC next year. And still, we weren’t done! The final portion of our directed research occurred early this morning, when we all paraded over to Cet Mar, the high school, in order to present our research (in Spanish!) to the students. With some technological difficulties, this was pulled off – however, I certainly did speak partially in French, as was my fear. Nonetheless, we are officially done with classes, research, and work for this semester. I think the relief will finally hit me once I’m home, but for now, I am reveling in having a modicum of free time. I am incredibly excited to finally go home (on Thursday!), but there are certainly things I will miss here, including:
-My friends. The people who are in this program are some of the most interesting, diverse, and talented people. They are kind, funny, and extremely enjoyable to be around.
-My bed. As odd as this sounds, my bed has become one of my favorite places on campus. It is not in its own room, and it isn’t even that comfortable, but it is MINE, and as tired as I am when I fall asleep, it is a blessed relief to finally crawl into it.
-Running. Running here has been a mental challenge: there is only one route through town, and it’s not very interesting. It frequently smells terrible in town, and I don’t like being leered at while I’m running. Nonetheless, it has been a way for me to calm down. Additionally, I have seen some of the most amazing sights while running, including a number of beautiful birds, and the most fantastic sunrises I’ve ever seen.
-The scenery. While the scenery around the bay is often blocked by smog, when it is visible, it’s unbelievable. The bay is surrounded by mountains, and while they aren’t mountains like those in CO or WA, they are still beautiful, and they make an incredible picture.
There are certainly other things, but those are what come to mind immediately. As sad as I am to say goodbye, however, I can tell it’s time to go home.