For our semester in Panama, we are taking four courses, but we’re taking them one at a time. In a lot of ways this is a great schedule: at least some of our courses are very fieldwork-heavy, and this way we can spend all day (or multiple days) in the field, come back at night to do some research, lab work, and data analysis, and not have to worry about any other classes. At school there’s always multiple psets, projects, readings, reports, and exams coming up for all of my classes, so being able to focus on JUST ONE THING for a single class is fantastic.
What this means, though, is that our first course has ended. In a very short three weeks, we’ve hiked in four national parks, eaten meals with our professors, and chatted on hour-long bus rides. We even spent a couple hours on a beach—and we get to call this class. At the same time, we have had ten lectures, come up with an idea and procedure for an independent project, and carried out that project in nine days of field work, three days of lab work, and one day to write a paper. Yesterday we turned in our papers, gave our presentations, and that was it. Over. We said farewell to our professors not fully processing that we would not, in fact, see them the next morning, or possibly ever again.
It feels like this class can’t possibly be over, and yet despite its brevity, this has been one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. Working on my own project in the forests has further convinced me just how much I like doing fieldwork (though I suppose that was never really a surprise, given how much I love being outside and learning about trees and rocks and bugs). I can’t wait to see what the next three classes will bring.