As we begin our transit back to Honolulu, Student Opportunities participants Julianna Diehl and Jennifer Killinger have time to reflect on the cruise and their experience.
What was the biggest challenge for you while on Falkor?
Julianna: After getting onboard Falkor, I was determined to learn and absorb as much as I could from each department on the ship. Our watches were purposefully made flexible so each student opportunity participant could have a hand in learning whatever was interesting to them. My biggest challenge on the ship quickly became not having as much time as I wanted to devote to each of the departments. I ended up standing a marine technician watch from noon to midnight, working with the deckhands throughout that time, and then standing a watch on the bridge.
Jennifer: My biggest challenge involved technology. I was unable to bring the camera equipment I am familiar with, and incredibly, Schmidt Ocean Institute provided a video camera! The differences in the process were remedied with the help of Todor, the technology wizard (AKA ETO) on board of Falkor. He was always available for troubleshooting and assistance.
What didn’t you expect from this experience?
Julianna: I don’t think I truly expected that this opportunity would be such a positive experience for me. I walked onto the ship with hopeful expectations, but my experience has beyond surpassed those expectations. The ship is very accommodating, the crew is top-notch, and I’m finding it hard to begin my goodbyes.
Jennifer: I didn’t expect to have so much fun! I feel like I made lifelong connections. Everyone has been warm and welcoming, and I know I am spoiled to have Falkor for my first experience on a research ship. We had BBQs, movies, and tons of chocolate! On a more serious note, I thought the rocking and rolling of the ship would affect me less. That surprised me most.
Were you able to complete everything you wanted to on this cruise?
Julianna: In the grand scheme of things, I definitely have no regrets about what I was and wasn’t able to complete on this trip. I think it’s safe to say that I devoted as much time to learning and working as I was able to on this trip. That being said, I need to find time to use the sauna before I get off ship.
Jennifer: I still have yet to learn how to use a sextant. I hope to do that during these final days. I expanded my network of scientists, handled the tag lines for the CTD, blogged, and made videos. I also have tons of footage for use on my TV show,21.3 Degrees North. Very successful journey overall!
Outside of the science, were there any unique experiences for you?
Julianna: My favorite experience on this cruise was spending the early morning hours watching the Perseid meteor shower from the ship. The wind and waves rocking Falkor created a relaxed atmosphere, and the dark skies and plentiful meteors made it a once in a lifetime experience.
Jennifer: One afternoon while Julianna and I were sitting outside, I saw a seabird over the ocean, that landed five feet away from me. I captured it all on film! The ceremony for our Golden Dragon status was also unforgettable. Becoming a Shellback is a major rite of passage for sailors. Another day, I went out on Atreyu and took pictures of the ship and a safety drill. Last, I will not forget the evening that the crew and science party went onto the upper deck to watch the Perseid meteor shower. The Milky Way was bright and I cannot even describe with words the awe-inspiring feeling that it gave me.
How do you hope this experience will affect your future?
Julianna: For me, this experience really has confirmed that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I truly enjoy the challenges that accompany oceanographic research, and the team on Falkor has shown me that it’s an achievable and positive way of life for me.
Jennifer: I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with the scientists as they helped me to understand the scope and purpose of what they are researching. I love science and linking scientists to a fresh audience. The feedback I received about my blogging for the general public was overwhelmingly positive and has given me a burst of assurance that I’m on the right path. I would definitely do something like this again. My next step is to seek employment in the science outreach realm.
What advice do you have for future student opportunity participants?
Julianna: Do as much and learn as much as you possibly can. This ship and crew has so much to teach, and I feel like I’ve only touched the surface.
Jennifer: Take chances and follow your dreams! Even if you reach them and find they are not exactly what you thought, you will learn valuable information about life, the universe, and everything (I hope you get the reference!). This opportunity to live out my dreams has urged me to grow them even further. Schmidt Ocean Institute and my time aboard Falkor has brought to life the quote: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough”.