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Beginnings, Endings, Birthdays, and other Adventures.

Where are we again? We’ve hit the halfway mark of our program – the end of our time at shore in Woods Hole, and the beginning of our time at sea. Our last couple of weeks on shore have flown by in a storm of homework, friendship, and nostalgia. The immersive reality of shore life, in the span of just a few hours, has become the past. The transition happened suddenly, as they generally do. One moment, we’re watching seals along the beach or Erin’s chopping off hunks of my hair. The next moment, we’re sitting in an airplane, leaving it all behind.

But there were so many adventures! It’s wild to think that they all happened, condensed into just fourteen days.

Since Erin and I are no longer twinning, we did not get to turn 21 together. No mind though, as another girl on the program actually shared a birthday with me.

For years, I’ve been slightly terrified at the idea of my 21st birthday. Ever since I realized that St. Patrick’s day was much more than just rainbows and leprechauns, I became apprehensive of what would be expected of me when I turned 21 on a national day of weeknight drinking.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the festivities thrown by my new shipmates. The day started by wearing goofy hats, sunglasses, and golden mustaches in class. Then it was a nice evening of frisbee before I was ambushed, carried upsidedown to a cake baked by my roommate, and given a nice facefull of frosting. All in all, it was one of the better birthday celebrations that I’ve been thrown.


Simon has abducted me. Photo Credit: Not me.

From then on, things just snowballed as the final weeks raced to an end. Erin and I froze one of my housemate’s underwear into a giant block of ice. The boys exacted their revenge by adorning the rooftops with all of our clothing. For days afterwards, we were still plucking the occasional stray sock from the bushes below. 


We’ll call it a truce.

The next weekend, we took a road trip to Plymouth, and stayed in my roommate’s beach house. There, we mistook some large rocks for whales, exclaiming excitedly as we embarrassed ourselves in front of a more whale-educated public. We watched seals, and then went to see the fabled (and rather anticlimactic) Plymouth Rock.




Behold. Plymouth rock.

After that, our last week was upon us, merciless in its abruptness, distractions, and time mismanagement. From there, we witnessed the dying throes of our time in Woods Hole. A final, snowy, soggy soccer game. Using the vacuum to fluff each others’ hair rather than to clean the kitchen. Getting crushed in Bananagrams. Graffitiing Tristan’s ID card. And just like that, it’s all suddenly over.

As a drug addict goes through withdrawals, I find myself already missing the people who were complete strangers just over a month ago. After spending six weeks crossfaded on a cocktail of social awkwardness, homework, and team-building, we’ve all come out a little loopy, nostalgic, and with the occasional twitch.

But now, as our plane approaches Auckland, there’s no time to mope or talk to alpacas about my feelings. It’s time for a week-long frolick through New Zealand with my family. I can count on seeing all my shipmates in a few days, bright-eyed and ready to embark on another six weeks of maritime and emotional adventures. All I can say for now is thank goodness we’re only halfway.

Ships, Alpacas, and Toilet Paper, Oh My!


Alpacas, anyone? They start at $500 dollars, come in a variety of colors, and this place will deliver them right to your doorstep. If this seems like something you need in your life, I will gladly purchase one for you.

The weeks are flying by, and it’s hard to believe we’re just two weeks from the end of our time at Woods Hole. So with that pressure, this weekend we decided to see one of the main attractions in this area – Martha’s Vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard is a quaint touristy island just a ferry ride away from Woods Hole, complete with beaches, historic lighthouses, fancy restaurants, and an alpaca farm.

This weekend was beautiful and sunny, and Erin’s boyfriend, Davis, came up from Boston to visit. Equipped with standard-issue SEA bikes, lopsided helmets, and colorful 80’s windbreakers, the three of us decided to venture out to Martha’s Vineyard. I did not expect this weekend outing to become an insanity workout. Turns out that riding ten miles on a bike stuck in third gear is a great cardio workout with an amazing emphasis on quads and calves. At first, Erin and Davis were a little concerned that I was panting and sweating to keep up with them, but really, it was a bummer that they missed out on the incredible health benefits that came with this bike. I feel stronger already.

As the weeks wind down, we increase the count of random adventurings. This week our class took a trip to Mystic Seaport, a port in Connecticut with historic ships from around the world. We got to see some amazing clocks that were built to keep track of time at sea, and watching the intricacy of their gears and motors made me feel very inadequate compared to these ingenious 18th century inventors.

One of the cooler parts of the tour was going aboard an old whaling ship. We got to descend into the cramped quarters, see the steel lances and harpoons used for whaling, and just get a feel for the enclosed space of a ship. Additionally, we boarded old fishing schooners that still smelled of cod, and even saw a small fishing ship that was used in WWII to smuggle Jews from Nazi-occupied Denmark to Switzerland. It’s a pretty incredible story for such a little boat.

And, of course, aside from academic adventures, there are many equally educational shenanigans on shore. From getting wrapped in toilet paper to rescuing seagulls, these weeks have been filled with some quality occasions.


Don’t worry. I’m making friends.

One of my favorite ongoing occurrences is one of the gap year kid’s strange affection towards Erin. At first we all thought it was just a joke. And although it probably still is, Tristan seems a little obsessed at times. His advances are totally innocent, but he continues to serenade her frequently on the guitar, flirt with her in class, and in other ways worship her. Today, he was trying to wake up a stubbornly sleeping classmate, and concluded that he needed a “true love’s kiss.” To which he immediately looked around and went, “Erin…? Erin?”

When Davis came to visit Erin, Tristan was a little intimidated, but he’s quite a persistent one. And however weird it is, Erin plays along with it. She is considerably weirded out by his advances, but still, I think she enjoys leading him on. That’s the sister I know.

Twinning No More

The word’s out. Erin and I are no longer twins. We just couldn’t live the lie anymore. Not for moral reasons so much, but because we were just really bad at it.

Another girl here shares a birthday with me, and she excitedly told Erin that they shared the same birthday. Erin astoundedly said, “Really? When’s that?”

Or when Erin showed the gap year kids her “fake ID”. They were astounded by how real-looking it was.

Or later, when Erin was telling people she was already 21, as I was telling people I was 20.

Since the act was already falling apart, we had planned to tell people after my (our) 21st birthday, but it was Erin’s decision to end it earlier. We were using my age and my birthday, so it was more of a hassle for her to keep up the act.

Granted, we didn’t think the act would last long, anyway. Both my roommates already knew, and if anyone paid attention to the details, they probably would have figured it out.

At first, people didn’t believe that we weren’t twins. They thought it was just Erin pulling tricks, which is a totally justified accusation, I assure you. Things got really interesting, however, when we told people that one of us was two years older, and just let them guess who.

It was mayhem. Some people seemed to stretch the facts so that we would be twins. People assumed Erin was lying about being over 21, positive that she was actually the same age as me. People checked Facebook, and found out our birthdays were different days. Then they thought we had just changed our Facebook pages to confuse them. And then there were other people who just thought we were cousins.

It was interesting how strongly people would hold on to their beliefs, even when significant evidence was presented otherwise. People were so unwilling to believe that we had lied to them. It was a little touching to see how people would rather bend the facts than accept that they’d been lied to. This could be a psychology dissertation in the making.

In some ways, though, I’m glad we introduced ourselves as twins. Being a twin felt different than being a little sister. This was new to me. I’ve always felt like a smaller version of Erin, especially since we look so alike. I didn’t stop seeing myself in this way until she had gone away to college. Ever since then, it seemed like my autonomy could only exist as long as we were separated. I imagine Erin must have felt the same thing as the big sister – held to look more responsible, and annoyed at constantly having a tagalong. But by introducing ourselves as the same age, I was no longer a mini Erin, and it seems that we can both exist as sovereign individuals, albeit ones who get up to a lot of shenanigans together. Whether we’re putting solo cups in our hair (see below), juggling lemons unsuccessfully, or squished together in the same clothing, I think that the individualism that came with twinning has brought us closer together than before.


Solo cups make great hair accessories. And yes, we all went to class like this.