This week has been one of the longest yet most rewarding weeks of my life. In a period of 6 days I spent hours duck diving for conch data, participated in designing a survey for marine resources and environmental bias, lay on the ocean floor catching a glimpse of a large nurse shark, went SCUBA diving in the dark, dove to nearly 30 meters below the ocean surface as part of the Advanced Open Water SCUBA certification course, got closer to the local community, and bonded even more with the incredible people I am so lucky to share this experience with.

Living on a small island is physically isolating. The days are long and the sun works to make you both insatiably tan and endlessly tired. But it’s amazing how free you can feel when everything that surrounds you is something you love. There’s not a single night I lay down in bed and question if this decision was worth it, or if I lived an entire day here without learning something new.

Tomorrow kicks off midterms week, and normally that scares the crap out of me. Normally I feel only the pressure and stress that associates impending written expectations – the points attributed to how well you can recall information and create your own opinions. So either it just hasn’t “hit’ me yet or “island life” mentality is contagious and effectively sinking in, because as I sit here listening to the waves crash against the rocks, the only thing I feel even remotely stressed about is figuring out what I am going to do after this surreal little adventure. It’s going to take a lot to find something that will make me just as passionate and excited to wake up at 6:45am everyday. And as the weeks keep ticking by, the idea of that only grows to be more challenging.

If you have the opportunity to reach beyond your normal routine, do it. Even if it’s a stretch. If you’re lucky, the place you find yourself existing won’t feel like your temporary study abroad campus. It’ll feel permanently like your home away from home.