Welcome Aboard: Spring 2013 & the Offshore Field Seminar

My name is Leah Feldman, and I am the new Admissions Blogger for the Spring 2013 class of Williams-Mystic! I’m a junior and English major at Colgate University, and am SO excited to be here at Mystic for the semester.  I absolutely love Mystic and the Seaport — not surprising from someone who’s spent their whole life on the water. I’ve been an avid sailor all my life, as well as sailing competitively for Colgate’s sailing team.

Other than loving all things maritime, I love music, all things outdoors, my amazing dog, great food and my exciting active lifestyle, making Williams-Mystic a PERFECT fit. I get to spend my days here doing all the things I love most: studying the ocean and all the amazing literature, history, policy and science it has to offer, listening to my incredibly talented friends and peers play music, go for awesome runs along the Mystic River, cook exciting new foods with my housemates and, if I’m lucky, even play with my literature professor’s dog, Ruby!

I knew coming to Mystic was the right choice from the moment I arrived (moving into my cozy historic home certainly helped!) but it wasn’t until our first Field Seminar — 10 days offshore the Straits of Florida on the tall-ship SSV Corwith Cramer — that I knew exactly how incredible and life-changing this experience would be.

Lucy, Alix, Melissa, and Leah on board the SSV Corwith Cramer!

The experience abroad the Corwith Cramer was unlike anything I had ever done before. Never before had I woken up to sound of waves crashing right outside my bedroom wall. Never before had I been responsible for something as important as keeping our 115 ft. ship on course. Never before had I eaten so well, so many times a day! I was absolutely astounded by the people I was surrounded with; the mates and scientists on board, but also the other Williams-Mystic students that I was just beginning to get to know. The experience aboard the Cramer is one that I will remember all my life, and no one will ever know how much that truly means as genuinely as my peers will.

Prior to the offshore trip, I knew that my housemates were funny and caring, and that the rest of the program consisted of intelligent, enthusiastic and like-minded individuals who all seemed extraordinarily pleasant. After the trip, I knew that if I ever needed anyone to rely on for something as small as handing me a line when my hands were full or as big as making sure I drank water when I was feeling seasick in the middle of the night, I had 16 people I knew I could look to.  This was especially true for the 6 other students on B-Watch with me; one of the groups that we were all split up into to provide round-the-clock sentry aboard the ship. These five other faces became nearly all I knew on board, as I ate with, slept next to, hauled lines with and conducted lab research with these people for 10 days. We did everything in shifts, including sleep, which never lasted more than six hours.

When we returned to shore, I was asked many times what my favorite part of the trip was.  I usually replied that I couldn’t say, that all of it was incredible but I think it was actually the most simple answer there was: the people. And the best part about that is that, with the exception of a few, I still get to surround myself with these wonderful people every single day.

Back in Mystic, we’ve spent many delicious potluck dinners and late night study-sessions distracting ourselves with pictures and stories from our trip aboard Cramer. We all missed it terribly in those first days back, but we soon were sucked back in to our busy lives here in Connecticut. I miss Cramer, too, but I find our classroom discussions and movie-nights to be just as exciting and educational, if not as warm and sunny. With so many perspectives (we have students from all over: California, Germany, Maryland and even Japan!), I can’t help but feel like I’m learning something new every day.

I am so lucky to be here, and so lucky to be surrounded by such incredible people. Tune in next week for more on the faces I can’t get enough of and the incredible lessons I’ve learned from each one of them.

Fair winds,