Monday: My week starts off at 6:20 AM when some friends and I do a light morning stretch session to get ready for the busy day (and week) ahead! Stretching helps me relax and clear my head before all the fun activities planned for the rest of the day. At 7 AM, breakfast is served! After breakfast, all staff and students have Morning Meeting to talk about the upcoming day. We always end with a game to activate our brains. Usually the rest of the morning consists of a couple of lectures in the classroom or a desk exercise. This Monday we went out in the field for Environmental Policy and catalogued organisms for our Total Economic Valuation Project. Lunch is served at 12:30 PM and typically includes the previous dinner’s leftovers. We also have “Meatless Mondays,” so we get to eat a lot of rice, beans, and veggies! After lunch we worked on our Total Economic Valuation Report. Once my team finished, we had free time until dinner at 6:30 PM. After dinner we often do fun activities like night snorkels, scuba diving classes, trivia, tie-dye, or baking for the birthday committee.
Tuesday: Another morning, another sunrise stretching session, breakfast, and Morning Meeting. Afterwards, we had our first field ID test on seagrass organisms! Several staff members led stations, showing us organisms to identify. The test took the whole morning and before I knew it, it was lunch time! After lunch we learned about conch, lobster, and grouper biology as well as the conch and lobster fisheries. And then it was dinner time and a free night. Whenever we have free time, we like to play games and watch movies. There is a hard drive at the Center with tons of movies, so we’re never bored here!
Wednesday: Wednesdays are a nice mid-week break from our busy days of classes – we participate in community engagement, snorkeling or diving, and our weekly student meeting. Some activities I’ve done for community engagement include washing the Center’s three dogs and teaching local sixth graders about topics like electricity and country capitals. Community engagement is a great opportunity to get out of the Center and interact with the people of South Caicos. Along with these activities, there are also several time slots for waterfront so everyone can get in the water. This Wednesday I snorkeled at the South End of Long Cay and saw beautiful megafauna like nurse sharks, a sea turtle, and a group of spotted eagle rays! At the end of the day we have our weekly student meetings where we bring up important announcements and activities going on the rest of the week.
Thursday: Another day of classes or desk and field exercises. This Thursday we learned about the coding language R and had an invasive species lecture. After lunch we performed a dry run of next week’s Marine Ecology field exercise. We practiced rolling out transects and surveying sections of a shoreline to examine the total coverage of seagrass as well as any invertebrates that we spot! The rest of the day’s activities included dinner and then birthday committee. For birthdays this semester, we have baked chocolate chip cookies, applesauce cake, brownies, and more! It’s nice doing a fun activity at the end of a full day of classes to clear our heads.
Friday: Stretching session, breakfast, Morning Meeting – check! The rest of Friday was spent studying for our first exam in Resource Management. My favorite study spots here include the computer room and classroom, as well as the open-air commons that look out at the ocean. A big thing I have learned here is effective time management. There are so many things we want to do each day, like exercising, reading, resting, learning, studying, hanging out with friends, and playing games. Since I knew this Friday would include lots of studying, I planned my day accordingly so that I could fit in exercising and resting as well.
Saturday: Saturdays, like Wednesdays, consist of morning snorkels or dives and afternoon community engagement. Weekly Saturday community engagement is super fun because the Center opens its doors for two hours, and we get to do all sorts of activities with local kids like swim lessons, snorkeling, games, crafts, and soccer! Other volunteer projects include beach cleanups, collecting sargassum for research, and helping maintain the compost system. These provide additional options to give back to the community. This Saturday was especially fun because after the kids left and we cleaned the Center, we held a student talent show! We all hung out, laughed, and were collectively amazed by our hidden talents; among these were jump roping, juggling, dancing, and impressions. This was such a fun way to relax and spend time with the whole group since we are not always together as a cohort during the week. On Saturday evening, a couple of friends and I have started a tradition of walking over to the local resort for dinner. This is a nice way to explore outside the Center for a little bit and relax with the friends that I have made while studying abroad here in Turks and Caicos.
Sunday: Ah Sunday. The most relaxing, and seemingly shortest, day of the week. There is nothing on the docket for Sundays, unless we are on kitchen crew for brunch or dinner, which happens about once a month. Otherwise it’s just sleeping in, eating, perhaps a bit of studying, and relaxing. Many students go out into town during the day, while others stay here at the Center to catch up on homework and e-mails or just relax for the day before another exciting week begins for SFS TCI!