This week was a bit of a marathon with our final exams. Our classes on this program end early, and the last few weeks are entirely focused on our directed research projects, which is exciting! But it also means that there is a lot of information squished into a small amount of time for our classes, and that can be a bit stressful and intense. On Tuesday we had our Environmental Policy test, which was open note… so easy, right? WRONG! It was 17 open-ended questions and four essay questions, and we had four hours. Needless to say, it was not my best writing. It was rather frustrating because I knew the information, but I didn’t have enough time to write properly and demonstrate my knowledge. In the afternoon we had our final for Marine Resource Management, which was a presentation we had been working on for several weeks. My group’s task was to develop a proposal for mass market tourism on the island of South Caicos, redesigning the protected areas of the island and explaining how we will feasibly develop the island to sustain 4,000 tourists per week. The irony of the entire project was that absolutely none of us would ever want to do that. South Caicos, in its rural, undeveloped state, has stolen a piece of all of our hearts. We’ve made friends with the locals and would never want to ruin their private paradise by introducing an influx of so many visitors on the island. Regardless, we made a presentation on it, and tried to create hypothetical policies to mitigate the effects. I think that we did well, but we haven’t gotten grades back yet!
After a few days of directed research work, we also had our Marine Ecology final. The final was scheduled from 9am-5pm, which seemed pretty daunting, but none of us thought it would actually take that long. The first half of the exam was closed-book and I had studied well. I was able to regurgitate all the information about the effects of hurricanes on coral reefs, the root structure of sea grass, and the different effects of parasites on fish behavior. I finished that part within an hour and began the open-note section. Our task was to design a 20-minute presentation on Mangrove Soil, a topic never covered in our course. Since the internet was down all week, our professor provided us with a folder of scientific papers on a variety of subjects to do with mangroves and relevant pictures. While reading through the papers, I learned a lot! I learned that some crabs love to eat mangrove leaves and will actually store leaves in their dens until they become rotten. Apparently, the tannin in fresh leaves are too bitter, and the crabs like the taste after they’ve decayed. I learned that mangroves can save lives by blocking the majority of the destruction from tsunamis, essentially sacrificing themselves. What I found particularly frustrating though, was that I didn’t have enough time to put everything that I learned into the presentation, and it certainly didn’t look nice. At 4:59 I added a theme to my slides and threw in two pictures, then submitted it.
By 5:10 I was running out of the center with a bunch of my fellow students. We ranted our way to the nearest beach, all of us venting the same frustrations from our finals. When we arrived at the beach, we ran/fell into the water and collectively screamed under water, then swam over and climbed onto the dock. Jumping off the dock was exactly what I needed in that moment, and it just seemed to entirely release all of the stress and frustration from the entire week. Regardless of how our finals had gone, at least they were over now and we knew we had done as best as possible. Now we just have directed research to look forward to!