When I was packing for this trip, I thought I had a general idea of what I could expect when I got here. I realized upon arrival that there was no way I could fully understand what was in store for me, because I had to live it in order to fully appreciate it.

Our first week at the Center for Marine Resource Studies has been such an experience on so many levels. It was great to be able to meet people who are just as enthusiastic as I am about the environment. It was also fantastic that we formed such a strong bond as soon as we met each other. It’s an experience that doesn’t often happen, and it is one that I will certainly cherish.

It is also very surreal here. Every activity is done with the ocean as our only spectator. I always wondered what it would be like to live near the ocean, and now I’m doing it! Even if it is only for a very brief four weeks, it is an experience like no other. Dinners at home will seem so dull and colorless without the beautiful waters that South Caicos bestows upon us now. And who else gets to study in a hammock while enjoying spectacular views?

The aquatic life is beyond extraordinary. I have never seen so much diversity. We have already seen sharks, rays, loads of fish and turtles.

On an academic level, this course is very intense but it is also refreshing in the sense that it provides a very different type of challenge. As soon as we learn something, we go straight to the field to apply it. I absolutely love this teaching method. You learn so much more, and it has an overall greater impact. It also helps that the professors here are so passionate about what they do. It is really infectious. You become just as passionate as they are in a very short amount of time.

The community here is wonderful. Everyone here is very friendly. We have gone into town a few times, and they are so open and welcoming. It is nice that we have such a great relationship with the residents here; it provides for a very unique overall experience. On Saturdays, we host an outreach day at the Center. The children come and do all sorts of activities—and they absolutely love it! They learn to swim, make crafts and play games. It was a good time for all of us.

Several of the students here have gone to the local basketball game and have experienced some of the night life. I honestly can’t think of a better place to go exploring. We have seen various parts of South Caicos already, and it always feels like an adventure. I don’t think we will have time to unravel all the mysteries that lie within this island.

This first week has seemed to fly by, but I am so excited to see what the rest of our time here brings. We have seen and done so much already. I’m ready for the experiences yet to come.