Well. I don’t even know where to start.
So much has happened since I wrote my last post. I have gone on a road trip for a field expedition to study microplastics and local conservation efforts in Rio Grande; launched a weather balloon from the airport meteorological station to measure the amount of ozone in the atmosphere; climbed a glacier; visited a prison; been to a bonfire on the beach; made pasta from scratch with some locals; and attended an all-day parade in the snow for the city’s birthday. Also, the hiking trails have opened!! For those of you playing at home, you might remember that this was the thing I was most excited for. Well, let me tell you, the wait was worth it. I even got to go this past weekend through the national park, which was nothing short of awesome.
Every day is something new, and I really love that. I do sort of miss having a routine, but I think the experiences I’m having more than make up for it. I will also say that I dearly wish I had listened to my mother when she told me to bring more t-shirts because I get hot easily – it is currently in the mid-50s and sunny, and I did not pack nearly enough light clothes for this. But the one thing that has been the most challenging so far has been mealtimes. People here eat very late – usually around 10pm – which means that in order to make it through to dinner, you have to eat more often. And given that I usually eat around 6pm at home, this has been a bit rough.
But besides that, the people here are lovely. Everywhere we go, people are so welcoming and absolutely glow when they realize that we can speak Spanish and talk to them about their lives. I think that’s the beauty of being able to speak another language, that you can communicate and share with so many more people. I’ve also made some amazing friends and I just know that these are the sort of friendships that will last. I was intimidated at first when I realized that as a newly-minted (as of last week) twenty year old, I’m the youngest person here with the least amount of life experience. But even though most of them are three to four years older than me, they are all super excited and willing to share life advice, which is great seeing as I want to do similar things in life as what they’ve already experienced. I guess if nothing else, I now know how to actually use LinkedIn.
There have been some fascinating things happening inside the classroom as well. Our class schedule means that we have a similar amount of school time as BC, with two classes a day for two hours each. We’ve moved on from our climate change and marine biology seminar and started on socio-ecological dynamics and conservation. The classes are very concentrated on the region, so I feel like I’m really getting to know the people and environment of the area. Just this past week, we had a session about artisanal fishing in Ushuaia, presented by a real fisherman! It was really cool to then compare that with the perspectives of government officials and researchers who had also come in to talk about a similar topic.
The way our program is structured, I’m done with classes in two and a half weeks. After that, we go to Antarctica and then do an independent research project for a month. So work has been crazy lately – I’m currently leading a group research project about Antarctic krill, working with others in my program on a podcast episode, writing my research project proposal, and still doing weekly assignments on top of all that. But… we got to choose our research topics and I’M SO EXCITED!!! I’m going to be working with one of the researchers at the Laboratory of Ecology and Conservation of Wildlife at the Southern Center for Scientific Research, studying the demographics and distribution of the population of the Magellanic Penguin colony on Isla Martillo in the Beagle Channel. So cool, right?! I literally don’t know how I got so lucky. I will definitely be posting updates and pictures in the coming weeks.
I said in my last post that I was at the end of the world. But I talked to this artisan the other day, and he told me he didn’t know why people called it that – for him, Ushuaia is the beginning of everything. With the way my life is going right now, I think he’s totally right.
Until next time 🙂