Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween!

Ok wow where has time gone. Actually I know exactly where it’s gone....... flown by! So, I had 3 days at home after Hawaii. I got home at 2.30 in the morning on the Tuesday to be greeted by the news that my car had leaked petrol everywhere, and shouldn’t be driven. Then I realised that both the tax and the MOT were due to expire that week, just as I was leaving the country to go back to Bermuda. Fortunately there is a garage just at the end of my road, so I was able to dump the car with them, and get on with sorting everything out for Bermuda. Made all the more difficult by the fact that my room is currently rented out to someone for a month, as I’m away such a lot. But, all of my stuff is still there, and this person I swear has brought ALL their stuff and put it in my room. I swear she has more stuff than me!! So that was a little bit stressful trying to get everything ready in time. Oh, and just the small matter of me doing my upgrade presentation, and upgrade meeting to get out of the way before I went to Bermuda. But, that all went fine thankfully, so I am now officially a proper registered DPhil student rather than an MPhil. Whoop! Carefully planned to arrive in BDA in time for BIOS international sports day (UK & Commonwealth against US and rest of the world).

So back off to Bermuda, this time for a month’s teaching contract. I’m co-teaching a course on Introduction to Biological Oceanography, to 9 foreign postgrad students. None of them have English as a first language...... they come from Turkey, Cote D’Ivoire, India, Iran, Ecuador, Venezuela, Russia, Vietnam and Brazil, with varying levels of interest, knowledge and English abilities! Trying to get them to do a lot of hands-on practical work too as that's part of the objective of the Nippon Foundation POGO course.....

Basically to cut a long story short, it has been an extremely stressful experience, and I am so so glad that Sarah was co-teaching with me, otherwise I would have drowned in stress and probably not slept for 3 weeks. The first two weeks we were averaging around 16-18 hour days.... eurgh. But, it’s all over now, save for some (quite a lot of) marking, and their feedback. I know it's been a great experience for me, and I'm sure that if I was to teach the same module again next year it would be infinitely easier, given that we've actually written lecture material, summary tests, problem sets etc. already. But no, not again.

Took a very brief trip home for the weekend after the first 3 weeks in Bermuda (first week was prep, then two weeks of teaching) for one of my friends’ wedding. They sent out the date ages ago, before I agreed to do this, and I desperately wanted to go. What with buying the flight home etc it means I pretty much just broke even with the teaching, but I can cope with that. I desperately needed a break from being on station and around work all the time. Had a wonderful weekend, the wedding in Cheltenham was lovely, and it was so nice to see Adam and Anna so happy :) Then a drive back to Gatwick from Cheltenham the next morning (via a quick detour around Cheltenham to find a MacDonald’s breakfast!) and back on the plane to BDA! Non-stop lifestyle.

Finished off the week with the annual BIOS underwater pumpkin carving contest for certified divers on station. One pumpkin per buddy team, no cuts allowed until you were in the water with your pumpkin. They are amazingly buoyant, and we had to cut into ours at the surface to let the air out before we could sink with it. Even then we had to put dive weights in him to make sure he didn’t float away! The current was very strong and the visibility was pretty poor, as we were diving straight off the dock into Ferry Reach. We were supposed to be taking the boat round to Whalebone bay to dive, but thanks to Tropical Storm Shary coming through, that idea was abandoned!

In the end we (myself and Becky) won scariest pumpkin, for our anglerfish :) we did have a coat hanger to attach the lure (an orange with a face carved in it) onto the top of the fish (pumpkin) but somehow we lost it in the struggle to get the pumpkin down onto the seabed. Hilarious.

Then, dressing up for the Halloween party at the wind. I went as a pumpkin. So orange!!! Am still finding orange in my ears and elbows and fingers etc, even after 3 showers!!! It was a genuinely hilarious evening, and a brilliant way to end a very stressful few weeks. The best bit was that a lot of people didn't recognise me for a while (mainly till I opened my mouth and started talking!!)

After the weekend I have until Wednesday to chill out (mostly do some marking), and maybe meet with people here about my own research, and then I am finally flying back home. Hoorah!!!! I am so excited, because apart from very flying visits in-between my crazy schedule, I feel like I haven’t really been home since the beginning of September, and even then I was only home for 3 weeks. Cannot wait for English winter (I know I won’t be saying this in a week or two, but for now, I’m looking forward to it!!) and proper roast dinners, and having the fire and heating on. Yes!

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