Though I consider Albion my home, leaving for the fall semester was not a hard choice. I chose to study in South Caicos, an island in the Turks and Caicos Islands to be my new temporary home, in order to do field research and study marine biology.
Before arriving in South Caicos, I knew that I was not going to be living the life of luxury at a resort, but I was not quite prepared for how it would feel to live on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. The differences between home and South Caicos were immediately apparent after stepping off of the ferry. I traded freshwater showers for saltwater, fresh fruit for canned goods, my single room for five roommates, and Albion’s small campus for a never ending view of the water. Many times I found myself feeling so small and disconnected from the people who were important to me. I spent my nights looking out at the ocean, watching the stars and thinking about how everyone I knew could see the same moon. These were the things that made my experience incredibly challenging, unique and ultimately rewarding.
I now find myself living in Ingham, back to life without roommates, freshwater splashing my face and whatever I am hungry for in an arm’s reach. Yes, it is nice to have those things back, but I miss days spent on the boats with the interns. I miss hanging out at Regatta (a local dock) on Saturday nights, watching for sharks and rays to swim past and having the reef as my classroom. I miss staying up late playing Monopoly, as well as the laughs and smiles of the other 35 students who learned to call South Caicos home with me.
Not everyday was easy, and the sun was not always shining, but no matter where you end up there will be days like that. My trip was not supposed to be a vacation full of free drinks and partying, its purpose was to challenge me to become a better version of myself. I can honestly say that is what it did. Walking around campus now I am more confident in my own ability and ideas. I feel more focused and I have a deeper understanding of who I am, what my aspirations are and who I want to be by my side when I accomplish my goals.
Photo by Chel-C Ford