Time is moving quickly, and it hasn’t really hit me just how soon I’m leaving for Antarctica. I have I feeling none of this will seem real until I actually step foot on the ice. These past two months have been a whirlwind of learning, reading, interviewing, algae-picking, shopping for the warmest, wooliest socks, and perfecting my 30-second elevator pitch on my research.
Last weekend I went home to Pennsylvania to say goodbye to my family and friends (and dog). It’s incredibly strange to bid farewell to people you won’t have any sort contact with for a month and a half. It’s not that I’m not used to being away from home, as I went to overnight camp starting at a young age, but even then, I received regular letters in the mail and special-request birthday calls from home. I spent a summer in Israel and have been through a year of college too, but used texts, emails, phone calls and FaceTime to talk to anyone at any time I so desired.
Now, with a deck of cards and poker instructions from Grandpa, enough chapstick to last me a decade, and a variety of journals in hand, I will embark on a journey that I know both everything and nothing about. I’ve been preparing for this trip for months now, and have asked every question I could possibly think of, yet there is still so much unknown. I have answers to everything about clothing, staying warm, hygiene, and science, yet so much I will just have to learn by doing.
For the anxious planner that I tend to be, I’m putting a lot of faith in things that are completely out of my control. For some reason I’m ok with it though. Maybe it’s because I know what I’m doing will contribute to global science. Maybe because I will soon be one of the handful of people from around the world who have been asking the same questions and studying the same place for 100 years. I will allow the weather and other people to determine parts of my experience, and rely on my own body to adapt, just like all the other Antarctic researchers have done before me.