Island School: Sarah Mason

Although it was a little rough, we all rolled out of in time for our 6:45 a.m. bike ride tour around the island. Most of us didn’t sleep very well last night, due to the warm temperature, bugs and the uneasiness of being in a new place for the first night. The sleeping arrangements here are a big adjustment for us because we are sharing our living space with other students from around the world. Also, the Island School has a few rules that will take some adjusting too, such as the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule and the sailor showers, which both seek to reduce wasted water.

Bikes at sunrise

Bikes at sunrise

As the sun was rising, we grabbed our neon helmets and saddled up on our beach cruisers. The Island School has a ton of bikes for students to ride whenever they want! All 12 of us rode to the marina where Janet and Jay pointed out a café, a small store that has washers and dryers, Sunset and Sunrise Beaches and a few other spots where we can spend our free time. When we got back to the Island School, Karen was waiting for us to show us the premises. She took us all over the Island School campus and showed us the school’s sustainable efforts. The Island School is very progressive in their thinking and strives to reduce their carbon footprints as much as possible. They grow a lot of their own food on the property, the buildings are powered by solar panels, a few of the buildings have foundations made of old tires and limestone and the Island School recently implemented their own biodiesel station for the vehicles on campus. It was super cool to have a behind the scene look at how the school operates, I was very impressed by how sustainable the school chooses to be. Also on the tour, we were able to see the research centers on the campus where researchers and PhD students from all over the world come to perform research. I think our group may be the only non-biology/ecology group on campus right now, so it was neat to see what everyone else has been up to!

After the tour, we headed to breakfast. We had French toast, bacon and the most delicious papaya! After breakfast we had some time to change into our swimsuits and take a short nap before our swim test. We met Liz, a lifeguard for the Island School, at the boat dock to begin our swim test. After we all passed the test we checked out snorkel gear and Liz led us on a short snorkel around the boathouse. We were able to see some fish, conchs and even a stingray! Then we ate lunch as a group on the roof of the dining hall, it was so beautiful and hot up there. I can’t get over how breathtaking the water is here. The turquoise water extends for as far as I can see in almost every direction. After lunch we had a few hours of free time, so we decided as a group that it was time to do some laundry. It’s crazy that we have already been here for a week!!! We all headed over to the marina to wash our clothes and prepare for our first presentation, which is tomorrow (yikes!).

While we were at the marina, we got alive by bug L Last night during dish crew, one of the first things we noticed was how many bug bites everyone had ALL OVER THEIR LEGS. Although mosquitoes have done some major damage, the “no-see-ems” are doing the real damage. They are just what they sound like, bugs that you can’t see. After sitting in the shade for a couple hours, we had all gained more than a few new bug bites. With our clean laundry sitting in our beach cruiser baskets the gang headed back to the Island School to meet Janet and Jay to learn how to take blood pressure on people. We will be performing blood pressure examinations on people during wellness fairs later in the trip. For me, this was a super cool experience because I am the only non-health related major so I had no idea what I was doing. Janet, Jay and the nursing students in the group have been so helpful in making everyone feel comfortable performing the various examinations. We need some more practice so we might ask a few of the other students on campus if we can practice taking their blood pressure!

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Blood Pressure review

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Blood Pressure practice

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Blood Pressure practice

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Blood Pressure Practice

Before dinner, Janet and Jay encouraged the group to split up at dinner and mingle with the other people dining from the Island School. Katie and I sat next to a group from Portland, Maine, which was kind of funny because we always hear about the other Portland on the other side of the country and it was cool to actually meet people from there! We also met one of the boat drivers for the school that is helping with research on grouper fish who said he has diabetes. We asked him if we could eventually take his blood sugar levels while we are here to make sure he is healthy, so that will be pretty cool!

We practiced our presentations for the first time this evening and it went surprisingly well! I think we are all ready to get our first presentation over with tomorrow morning. For the rest of the night we are planning on taking showers and getting to bed early. I think we are all pretty wiped out and ready for a solid night of sleep. Wish us luck on our first presentation tomorrow!

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