It has been a bit over 2 weeks since I got to the USVI and it still feels like a mini paradise. I am waiting for the day I wake up and it sinks in that this is a study away experience, not just an extended vacation. I have been exploring different parts of the island with other exchange students and UVI students who are here year round. I have been to Magen’s Bay and Mermaid’s Chair, but most of the time at the beach is spent on Brewer’s Bay Beach since it’s so close to campus. A group also went to St. John island the past weekend and spent the day at Honeymoon Beach. I hope to explore St. John more while I am here, it has a lot more natural areas and hiking than St. Thomas.
I have been going to a few different restaurants with friends, mainly in the Havensight area where cruise ships dock. Eating out is a nice break from the UVI cafeteria food and has been great to see new areas of the island. The food at UVI is not bad at all, it just becomes repetitive eating the same types of food for 7 days a week. I haven’t tried any seafood restaurants here yet, but I would love to find a good sushi place to go to every now and then.
I was lucky to meet a post-doc member of a research lab at UVI focused on mangrove resilience and restoration. I have begun volunteering with them, helping collect data on the growth of black, red, and white mangroves grown in different conditions. I have also helped maintain the groups by watering and removing any parasites/pests. It hasn’t been the most exhilarating work, but I have enjoyed working with the members of the lab and learning about the mangroves. I am hoping as the semester goes on I can help with more aspects of mangrove restoration and occasionally help other labs with their work when they need an extra hand. There is a group that collects data on sea turtles in Brewer’s Bay while tagging them, and I would love to help with those surveys when they need it.