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Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Holly and I’m a blogger, bookstagrammer, and law student with a love for books and a severe nut allergy!

How did you get into blogging?

I first started blogging back when I was 14 years old… 8 years ago?! I wanted a place to post book reviews, but I never imagined that I would become so involved in the bookish community (or that there even was such a thing!).

Tell us about your favorite post.

I had so much fun writing about my time studying abroad at Oxford, so probably that series. It was lovely hearing about everyone else’s traveling adventures in the comments as well.

What are you doing when you’re not blogging?

Probably homework! In my free time I love knitting, writing, hiking, tap dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

What kind of culture shock or reversal culture shock did you experience traveling between the US and UK?

For me, the culture shock coming back to the US was worse than the shock going to the UK. I loved so many things about my year at Oxford–going to pubs, being on my own schedule, studying only English lit, going to school in a city, traveling, etc.–that coming back was a real struggle! Fortunately I was also coming back to some great friends at my college here in the US, so I had plenty of support.

What Reading Rush challenge are you finding most difficult?

Definitely the book to movie challenge–I’m just so bad at committing to watching movies! And all of the movies that go with books I’m reading aren’t on Netflix… the STRUGGLE IS REAL.

Where else can we find you?

Instagram || Twitter || GoodReads

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic.

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What could be more dangerous than land mine removal, working in a mine or being a search and rescue worker?

For the last three weeks, I have been training to be an observer on commercial fishing vessels. Fishing operations are especially dangerous in Alaska where the seas are rough, the wind cuts you to the bone and between the sea spray and rain, you’re almost always wet. Unlike fishing in warmer waters, if you fall overboard, the cold water could shock you into not moving or if you do move, you tire yourself out quickly. Hell, we’re the reason the Coast Guard even has a search and rescue team.

Although I’m on a confidentiality agreement (meaning you probably won’t see too many posts about my job after this post), I’m permitted to share what training is like.

First, the non-safety aspects of my training…

Sampling methods: different kinds of gear (trawl, longline, pots) call for different kind of random sampling methods. We must know how to randomly choose hauls to sample and how to randomly select what part of the haul to sample. These are often practiced through some hands-on activities.

Species composition sampling: within each part of the haul we sample, we must know how to account for all the species there and identify sex, maturity, weight, length and more in a select number of individuals. These are often practiced through some hands-on activities.

Fish and crab identification and specimens: with that, we must know how to properly identify the fish and crab in our haul using a dichotomous key. For some individuals, we must take otoliths (tiny bones by the brain) to send to the lab and remove snouts from certain salmon that have escaped from fish farms. We must also know how to identify marine mammals and birds of interest. We got to practice using preserved specimens in lab.

Forms, forms, forms: we must know how to properly fill out the paper work for everything we do.

Data entry: we must know to enter the data into our computer program and send it daily. This is one of the only fisheries where they use live data for management rather than taking months or years to process it before they act.

Homework and tests: we have directed reading questions, practice forms and activities to take home… as if nine hours in class wasn’t enough. We also have several tests to gauge our knowledge along the way. It is completely open book (we will have a textbook-sized sampling manual while we’re on assignment), but you must get an 80% or higher to pass. Some people were dismissed from the class halfway through for not passing the midterm and one girl was even dismissed a few days ago for not passing the fish test. This is serious stuff.

Now, for the fun bit: the safety training

First of all, at least three times a day they said that our safety is their (and our) number one priority. If you’re not feeling well enough to sample, you should stop working and contact the company. They won’t fire you. Also, of all those who died in Alaska the past few years, none of them were wearing lifejackets. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

General health: we were taught how to properly deal with being seasick, experiencing sleep deprivation and the living conditions on the boat and in the North Pacific including how to respond to cold water near drowning and hypothermia.

Immersion suits and water activities: on the very first day of class, we were introduced to immersion, or survival suits. They are essentially insulated dry suits that keep body heat in and water out in the unlikely event of abandon ship. We were taught how to properly don them and throughout the week on a blow of a whistle at any time, expected to put them on in under a minute. In the first week of training, we also got to go in the water with them to practice swimming around in them, getting into rescue helicopter baskets, boarding a life raft and more. It was so fun! The suits feel like a suction cup around your body and you stay completely dry, it’s such a weird sensation. Although, I hope I don’t have to experience it again outside of the yearly training recap…

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Not my class, but you get the idea. Screencap from a video by Mike Estabrook.

Abandon ship drills: similarly, in the last week, we were assigned groups to preform abandon ship drills. We would all get certain tasks depending on our position (for example, I was crew member #3 and my duties were to grab the First Aid kit and launch the life raft) and do them in a timely manner. However, the instructors threw some curve balls at us… for example, when we finished our drill, we realized we were one person short. Our “engineer” was told to go outside and see if anyone noticed. The moral of the story was that even though role call was her task, it’s important to have an idea of what everybody has to do and items to have in the case of an emergency.

Fire drill: we got to put out live fires! Granted, they were tiny, but good practice.

Regulations: finally, we learned how to spot infractions on the boat, with fish handling and catch composition and regarding behavior of the crew.

These last few weeks have been very intense but I’m proud of myself for passing the course and excited to start my assignment in Alaska in a few days.

Photo by Connor Robertson.

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As you may have seen, I had the most amazing time in Thailand. I’ve wanted to do this trip for so long and am so grateful for the experience, but like any keen traveler, I can’t help but thinking: where to next?

Here are some long term (~2 weeks), more expensive trips I have in the back of my mind to take once I pay off my student loans in 70 years. (I drew some inspiration from my Scuba Diving Bucket List post, so check that out too!)

Iceland roadtrip: I have heard nothing but incredible things including from my personal friends who say it’s one of their all-time favorite places. There is so much diversity and I would like to explore it all on this relatively small island. I hope I can go here with my dad and brothers after they graduate next year.

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Photo by redcharlie.

Dive master training: I would like to take a few weeks to get my dive master’s certification abroad. I know a lot of places offer the course for a discounted price if you work at the dive resort so that sounds like a really awesome deal! However, I am not dead set on any particular place to do it in, but Australia sounds most appealing at the moment.

African adventure: I had the time of my life in South Africa and would love to do it again. I would like to see some more national parks, Mount Kilimanjaro, Victoria Falls and scuba dive more on the east coast.

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Photo by AJ Robbie.

Galapagos Islands: Another big scuba diving trip I would like to take is to the legendary Galapagos Islands. They are well-protected so trips are quite expensive, but I can imagine seeing all sorts of endemic species and habitats untouched by human hands will be well worth it.

Machu Picchu: I hate camping and am in no shape to hike such a long distance at the moment, but I’m determined for it to grow on me before I take this trip.

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Photo by Eduardo Flores.

Live in another city (or two) for at least a month: When Jeopardy! record-breaking champion James was asked what he plans to do with his prize money, he said he wanted to travel around the world for a year but live in each city for a month to really soak in the culture, which sounds like quite the experience to me! I’d like to live in Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin or perhaps New York for an extended period of time to get the most of some of my favorite cities.

Finally, as an honorable mention, I am still on the fence about an Antarctica trip. It would be cool (pun intended), but nothing I feel I need to do at this time. Who knows, maybe living in Alaska will spark a love for remote work in the cold and I’ll land a job with the British Antarctic Survey or something and get there for free.

What big trip would you like to go on?

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Here are my top five blog posts of the month:

  1. 7 reasons 2000 Tress is the ideal first festival: A lot of my UK friends went to this lovely festival this weekend and I’m so jealous. I really don’t fuck with tents, but for this festival, I might make an exception.
  2. 10 best audiobooks: This post is so well thought out and really defends why these books are better as audiobooks than read books. I also recommend The Woman in Cabin 10 as a book that has a great narrator.
  3. 8 great day hikes in Scotland: From what I’ve seen, Scotland is gorgeous and would love to really take my time to explore more of it.
  4. 10 places in Iceland you cannot miss: I hope to make Iceland one of my next “big” trips, it looks so lovely.
  5. The most scenic hikes around the world: I really want to learn to like being outdoors more as I travel, destinations such as these would give me a reason to sleep on the cold, hard ground over a comfortable bed.

Science, sustainability and veganism

Travel destinations

Lifestyle

Entertainment

Photo by Andrew Knechel.

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Here’s how my goals for spring went…

  • Work 15-20 hours a week at my part-time job: I pretty much got that at my movie theater job, no matter how much I hated it.
  • Stay away from the snacks at work: I did okay with that. Maybe ate on half my shifts.
  • Secure a full-time job: Yes! As you reading this I’m training for my new fisheries biologist job in Seattle.
  • Hike once a month: Nope. I did manage one hike in Sycamore Canyon, but not much else.
  • Visit one new southwest state/ park: My cousins and I visited Channel Islands National Park for a day hike on Santa Cruz!
  • Read three books a month: I’m proud to say I’ve been more than keeping up with my reading. On average, I’ve reading six books a month this year.
  • Go to the gym three times a week: At first I was keeping up with a routine, but then I got a job…
  • Meal plan and prep: Nope.

My goals might seem a bit underwhelming because I don’t know for sure what kind of time I’ll have with my new, intense job, but here are a few things I hope to keep up with for the rest of the summer

  • During training: wake up two hours before class, use weekends to explore
  • Read three books a month
  • Practice Spanish a few times a week
  • Message family and friends everyday
  • Pay off some debt
  • Stretch a few times a week
  • Apply what I learn in training to do well at my job
  • Blog for half an hour every other day
  • Organize my laptop

Again, I’m no really sure what to expect with my new job and probably won’t know until my first deployment at the end of the month. I look forward to sharing what I can (as I’m recording data to use for government regulations, I can’t give too much away) once I’m in Alaska. I will update my goals at the beginning of fall!

What are your goals for the next few months?

Photo by Ben Dutton.

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