We only have a few days left on board, and with all of our projects coming to an end, there is time left to reflect (I’ll keep the water related puns to a minimum) on this experience.
It’s difficult to explain in detail what life on board is like. I know that each Education Officer that sails on the JR is tasked with this, and we try the best we can…but unless you’ve had the chance to experience it yourself, it’s not something that can be easily summarized. But why would it be? It would be like if I asked you to tell me step by step what happens in your daily life from when you wake up in the morning to when you go to bed. That’s kind of impossible…and probably a little boring.
Looking back at the last few months, I can already tell I’ve had three distinct routines. The first few weeks were spent getting use to the boat and appreciating this experience, the next few weeks were spent getting in the groove and cranking out work, and the last chunk was spent rearranging my work schedule to re-appreciate the fact that we’re in the middle of nowhere. Having said that, I can’t really give any specifics. I can’t give you a: “We eat at this time, and we meet at that time,” because it’s always changing. In my emails home to friends and family the word “usually” gets overused.
I also know its kind of impossible to give you an accurate description of life on board because no matter how many IODP videos I watched before boarding, or how closely I paid attention to the Education Officer Training a few months ago, none of it prepared me mentally. But that’s because we each experience things differently, and there’s no predicting what will happen in two months time.
The closest thing I can relate it to is going away to college for the first time, surrounded by an environment that engrosses every aspect of your life for a very short amount of time. You think about it; you talk about it; you dream about it; you make work about it (…that last one is specific to art school).
The main difference I’ve found between this and everyday life is that everything is escalated. You love things intensely, you hate things intensely, and all for brief moments. There’s really no ‘escape,’ because people, for better or worse, constantly surround you. It’s different than working in an office because at the end of the day…you can go home. On the boat, you miss that luxury. But, on the positive side: you interact with people you would have never met before in your entire life. You visit places you’d have never gone, and probably will never return to, and you learned things you didn’t know you wanted to know. And whether or not you ever want to do it again, you probably leave with at least a handful of new experiences you are itching to try next. And that’s pretty awesome.
I can honestly say this has been one of the weirdest (in the best possible way) experiences of my life...and I'm excited to keep exploring.
I decided to change my flight so that I can stay in Panama for a few days to see the canal and things. Also, I keep hearing how cold and snowy Ohio is, and I'm not looking forward to going back to that.