As we approach Wellington with only 11 days left on our floating classroom, academic deadlines are in full swing. Five main things remain: "Sense of Place" travel stories, science research Projects, "Oceans and Global Change" ocean health projects, the "Maritime History and Culture" final exam, and final "Leadership in a Dynamic Environment" essays. The Sense of Place essay is a travel essay about a specific place or experience that spoke to us, topics range from looking through portholes to considering the night sky. Ocean health projects are group research projects focusing on ocean issues including plastics, acidification, and biodiversity. The people in DOR and POR are working on analyzing all the science data from our deployments to formulate research papers. Finally, the leadership essays will analyze a situation, style, or person through the lens of what it means to be a leader.
Tomorrow we will go on land for the first time in 11 days. The journey between Great Barrier Island and Wellington has not been an easy one. We hit fairly rough weather encountering two gales. There were many moments where I found myself questioning what I was doing. With no communication to the outside world off our floating island, experiencing poor weather and high academic stress, at times all I wanted to do is call home or go on a walk with my mom on stable ground. Something my watch has talked a lot about is it's okay to not always be okay. There is often this idea that when studying abroad every minute needs to be amazing, but the reality is just because you are in a new place doesn't mean the normal ups and downs of life stop. I can be homesick and thoroughly enjoying my experience. The moments that weren't the best sometimes taught me the most about how I learn best or things I need to work on.
The unique part of this is the support systems we have on the boat. All faculty and crew are almost always available if you need to talk. All of the other students work to support each other because not every moment is a great moment. Bad moments do not equate to bad experience. Most of us are having the time of our lives, myself included. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity as far as academics and life experiences go, and all of the good moments outnumber the bad a million to one.
Watch groups specifically have check-ins to see how everyone is doing. We often play this game "rose, bud, thorn." Rose is something really good that's happened; thorn is something not the best; and bud is something we are looking forward to. We also include a gardener who is someone that has helped you out recently. Currently my thorn is just the stress from academic assignments; my rose is the fun conversations and attitude my watch has had the past few watches; and my bud is exploring Wellington. My gardener is my watches current mate Kate. She always has a positive attitude and deals with the craziness of A watch while teaching us so much. The last week is going to fly by, and I'm excited to see what's to come.
- Kaitlin Kornachuk