After my PolarTREC interview, I found myself checking my inbox and junk mail thoroughly everyday for weeks, waiting to find out if I had been selected or not. When the email came, it was in my junk mail and I was quite proud of myself for finding it, though this had more to do with the informative subject line than with my sleuthing abilities. Less than a second later, I realized that in the subject was also the word "Congratulations". I was sitting with my mom when the email came, and we shared some happy tears. That night, my family gave me a balloon and card to celebrate. I was so happy to be home visiting my family for the holidays and sharing this excitement with them. My students were equally happy, high-fiving me in the hallways, when they heard the news.
A month later found me getting on a plane to Fairbanks, Alaska, for the orientation program. The night before, I found it really difficult to decide what to pack for temperatures that ranged from -30 to 10˚F (-12 to -36˚C). It took 24 hours and three flights to get from Basel, Switzerland to Fairbanks, with a six hour layover in Seattle. Exhausted but hungry, I made good use of my time in the airport by reacquainting myself with American food in the form of a massive burrito from Qdoba and a Frosty, while simultaneously taking an online class on animal welfare that I needed in order to work with the ground squirrels on my expedition. I've only had one day of training so far, and it was filled with good information, support, new friends and lots of food. What could be better?