Surviving the PolarTREC Application Process

    As a teacher there is one thing that absolutely terrifies me. Sweat rings. There is nothing worse for a high school teacher than a bunch of students pointing them out.

    The application process for PolarTREC introduced me to a whole new kind of sweating. Sweat connected to emotions. I shall never forget them as long as I live. They came from nervous anticipation and excitement and I did not appreciate them one bit.

    Erin Towns reliving the nightmare of the stress sweats she encountered during the application process.
    Stressing A Little A Lot

    “We are pleased to inform you your application has made it to the next round.” Armpit apocrine glands activate. That continued on and off for the next few weeks and through many shirts and sweaters. I found myself, heart pounding, in the school bathroom trying to fit under the hand dryer. Then came a phone call from Alaska to inform me that a researcher would like to interview me.

    Next day, under the hand dryer again I went, in between teaching and interview prep. Glaciologist, Dr. Sarah Das from Woods Hole Oceanographic was on sabbatical sailing the Caribbean with her family for the year. Our interview would take place in the lobby of a hotel near where she docked. She put me at ease immediately with her calm demeanor and supportive style of questioning. It would be the only relief I had in weeks to come. Students got so used to seeing me under that dryer, they stopped asking.

    Finally the call came. I was asked how I was doing and vividly remember thinking to myself I was about to pass out. “We are pleased to inform you that you have been invited to join the research team in Greenland with Dr. Das.” I literally fell on the floor. I can’t remember what my armpits were doing at that moment. I was in outer orbit.

    Grateful to be a part of this crew and grateful the stress sweats have passed.
    PolarTREC 2020

    Greenland Expedition

    Here it is!!…

    Augusta, ME
    Weather Summary
    43 F


    Kathy Ho

    This was hilarious!! Well written and truly captured the experience. Love your writing style, humor, and especially your picture...

    Amy Osborne

    Hi Erin, Thanks for sharing this! I felt like I was right there drying out my armpits under the dryer with you. I'm excited to hear more!

    Tammy Orilio

    I have never heard this phrase before- definitely going to use it from now on! You really captured the emotional roller coaster of the selection process.

    Eric Filardi

    Wonderful choice to hone in on a specific, humorous aspect of who you are as an educator and person. This highlights your personality SO WELL for your readers, and connect us to you in a meaningful way! I love that there's a strong plot to follow along with, with your style of writing lending such creativity as you go! Great job leaning hard into what make you reflect and grow. Is the blurred background in the first pic a product of portrait mode?