We woke up today with a sense of urgency. We had a transect analysis assignment due at 1pm and our final exam was set to begin at 430pm. The dorms, cafeteria, and lecture room are usually alive with spirited conversation and music and laughing. Today, however, everyone had their heads down into their notes and laptops with headphones in concentrating on projects and studying. We didn’t congregate together in one area like we usually do. Some of us stayed in the cafeteria, some in their rooms, and some in the lecture room with periodic breaks to the helicopter pad to study with a view.
As I was studying today on the heli-pad I had flashbacks to last week. Marissa had been leading Will and I in a short, but necessary, yoga meditation. We discussed that usually during meditation you are supposed to picture your happy place. We paused for a minute, looked around and laughed. We realized that where we were, in that moment, was our happy place. We didn’t want to close our eyes and picture somewhere else – we were there. Crystal clear teal water all around with a light breeze and a coral reef crest in the distance housing all the creatures we’ve come to learn about – this is paradise.
Tonight was our last dinner together as the dysfunctional family we’ve grown to become in this short trip. I can look around at all these people and say with confidence that I appreciate all of them for what they’ve contributed to this experience. Lila taught me that having a genuine passion for what you’re learning about makes the experience more joyous than stressful. Yulia shocked me in how she was able to go from someone who had minimal knowledge on snorkeling, to a certified and bad-ass PADI open water diver. Suzie taught me more about how to approach life and its challenges in this short trip than I’ve learned in my whole life. Deana inspired me when I watched her complete the last leg of her PADI certification as she swam lap after lap in front of the dock without wavering in strength. Alyssa was the first person to say something hilariously sarcastic when we arrived at DBML and really broke the ice for all the joking that followed and brought us closer as a group. Sebastian is one of the most helpful and resourceful people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Phenix really pumped me up when he took on Dunn’s River Falls twice without fear…and he’s a non-life science major. Andrew was the first friend I made on this trip and the first person to make me feel comfortable when we arrived in Jamaica while we talked on line for immigration. Marissa has proven to be a hilarious person and a great friend/yoga teacher. Justina has a work ethic that I don’t think I’ll ever match in life. Hannah’s perseverance inspired me as she smiled through certification complications and pushed herself to climb the hardest part of the waterfall. Albert is far braver than I was at his age. At 18 years old, he threw himself into this program with a bunch of 20 somethings and had a great time. Shane taught me that you can never take enough pictures and never wear enough Superman attire. Gabriel taught me that a swimming limone is the best limone, and for some reason his laugh would brighten my day. Frankie and Will are the kind of men this world needs more of, and I am so happy to be able to call them my friends. Horia taught me that, no matter where you are, it’s important to live and experience the moment. My classmates turned this study abroad class into a life altering experience.
Brad and Joe brought out the best in us as students. The way this class was run, and how we were encouraged to explore and learn, really made a difference for us. I will never forget the adventures we went on here and I will never forget Jamaica. I’m taking what I learned here with me wherever I go in life.
Thank you everyone.
Peace, sunscreen, neoprene….Nikki Goodman