A lot has happened since I last mentioned my field course, and now I leave for the airport in a few short hours! Can you believe it?

In my last post, I gave a bit of background on the course. Basically…

  • I will be in South Africa (Durban and Cape Town) until 22nd April doing a most expenses paid marine field course
  • I got scuba certified (up to Advanced Open Water) for this course
  • We sorted ourselves into buddy pairs and chose from a list of projects (I will be studying homes on the reef solo)

Well, a few things have happened since we last spoke…

  • I got vaccinated through a private travel clinic after totally skipping out on them until a month before my departure. Smart, right?
  • After a meeting with the course convener Bill, I had a change of project to accommodate a more convenient group structure. I will now be doing the predators on the reef project, which explored predator behavior under a range of conditions such as coral composition, prey availability, current, etc. I am not upset and although I could have done my original project choice, this was simply easier. I also got paired with two undergraduate students. We will be collecting data and diving together, but submitted our projects independently.
  • Two weeks before departure, we had a final briefing and equipment check, where we were given some field course materials such as an underwater notebook and GoPro and one final talk before the trip. It started to get real when Bill closed the meeting with, “See you in Durban.”
  • A week before our departure, we had our project proposals due in. Although this assignment was formative, it was helpful to get an idea of what the limitations and expectations of our projects will be and receive feedback.
  • Our second half of the trip was moved back to Cape Town as Day Zero has been postponed to 2019.
  • The itinerary for the optional bush and boat safari was confirmed and I paid my fee. We will be transferred from Sodwana Bay to St. Lucia in the afternoon of 12th and wake up the next morning at 04:45 for your half-day game-drive through the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park with Monzi Safaris. Then, there will be a 2 hour hippo and crocodile boat cruise on the St Lucia estuary before we are transferred back to Sodwana Bay. I’m so excited!

Since my last post, I’ve also done a metric shit-ton of other university work. I have not one, not two, but four deadlines about a week and a half after I return, with my birthday smack in the middle. I wanted to get a good jump on those so I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off when I get back.

Anyway, here’s a few special bits I packed for this trip:

  • Water sterilization and motion sickness tablets: Course convener Bill suggested we try out our tablets before the trip to make sure they don’t make us especially drowsy.
  • Scuba gear: While I don’t have much, the university loaned us a few bits and bobs and I have a torch I bought for my Egypt trip.
  • Warm-weather clothes: A pretty foreign concept for someone residing in miserable England.
  • Sun and swim gear: Swimsuits, flip flops, hat, sunglasses, sun cream.

On the plane, I hope to:

  • Get a good bit of coursework done
  • Listen to music
  • Watch a film or two
  • Read
  • Sort my computer

I’m flying from Gatwick to Istanbul to Johannesburg to Durban, due to arrive tomorrow at about 1PM where I will be one of the last groups to join the others in the airport before we’re transferred to our hotel. It’s going to be a long journey, but I’m excited! See you on the other side.