Name: James Fifer
School: Trinity College
Program: Marine Protected Areas: Management Techniques & Policies, Turks & Caicos
As we head into the second week of the program, I log back into Facebook briefly to check on the world outside of South Caicos and am greeted by questions of: “How’s the island?” “Are you having fun?” and the most common, “What’s different?” or “What’s hard getting used to?”
I think this is often true when returning from any trip—people tend to inquire about the difficulties of adjustment. It’s almost like we’re expected to be uncomfortable when moving to a new place where we are forced to change some of our habits. But I’ve found that it is easy to get back into your comfort zone. It’s easy to get into that groove where nothing overwhelms you and you are free to enjoy and experience things around you as yourself and not as the stressed out, uneasy person that sometimes takes over when we are first thrown into a new environment.
It has helped me to realize that the feeling of comfort is not obtained through maintaining habits that I do at home like freshwater showers, always having access to my favorite foods, sleeping in, and watching T.V. Comfort is achieved when you are surrounded by people who are ready to laugh, open up to you, and incorporate you into their lives even if it’s only for a month.
Being greeted by people who are willing to do this every time I sit down for a meal, ask for help, or head into town has helped me get to the point where I feel at home. I can lie down at night, in a strange bed that has already started to accumulate a thin layer of sweat without me, with a fan that only serves to briefly remind me of what it’s like to be cold before it buzzes relentlessly off to the other side of the room, and I can fall asleep happy and comfortable.