All these posts about snow – and the several-feet-high snow banks around me – have made me miss a time where there was no snow on the ground… specifically last winter when I flew South to the tropics to avoid the snow.
One of the biggest attractions for me (as a potential Bio-major at the time) was the Bio FSP to Costa Rica and the Cayman Islands. I was determined to go (who wouldn’t want to?), and last year (as a junior) I got my wish. I had already heard all about the amazing adventures I would have from past FSPers, who wouldn’t stop raving about their trip, and though they had also mentioned the harder parts, all I retained was how awesome it was. Little did I know I was about to embark on one of the most rewarding, yet physically and mentally draining experiences of my life.
First of all, a little background. The FSP is separated into three segments, each led by a different professor, with two 3-week segments in Costa Rica (terrestrial field biology) and one in Little Cayman (marine biology). There are usually about 15 students and 2 TAs on the trip. Fun fact: the TAs on my trip were married and thinking about starting a family… and they did. Nine months after our trip, this little bundle of joy arrived:
Our little FSP wonder: Cami!
The trip was amazing. I saw animals I didn’t think existed (look up tapir. seriously.), witnessed the birth of a baby howler monkey (bloody affair) that was then interrupted by a puma (scary stuff!), and managed to wade into a marsh to look at pretty flowers only to find myself running from a croc with leeches stuck to me! Below is another one of my misadventures…
Me stuck in quicksand after a competition to see which of us could go deepest and still get out… I lost. They pulled me out.
Yet it was not all fun and games. Throughout this time we were also doing incredibly important work – observing nature around us, coming up with questions (and answers!) to satisfy our curiosity, and conducting experiments to discover more about the world around us. We also had to repeatedly come up with solutions to problems on the spot, learn to work in groups (and multiple groups at once!), research and write papers practically overnight, as well as constantly explore the environment around us and take advantage of all the unique opportunities!
Traveling to new destinations – it’s always fun in the sun!
This was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life – severe lack of sleep (and privacy!), constantly on the go (your “off” days were travel days… not very relaxing when you’re lugging around all your equipment), prolonged separation from family and friends… yet it was all worth it. I came out of this experience with a small close-knit group of friends, some memorable stories, and with more strength of character and determination that I had before. I encourage everyone to embark on one of these adventures before graduating, for though you may complain along the way, you will always look back on it fondly afterwards. For you, BIO FSP 2013!
Our attempt at spelling out BIO FSP 2013