You Just NOAA It's Gonna Be a Good Time!

A mere two days after I touched down on American soil, I repacked my bags and headed to Silver Springs, Maryland for the NOAA Hollings Scholar Orientation.

(Noah, like Noah's ark, you ask? No, NOAA, as in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Get with the program!)

(And if you are a SOPHOMORE in college with any remotely ocean or weather-themed interests, apply for the NOAA Hollings Scholarship. For cereal. You won't regret it.)

So there I was, still trying to remember how to speak English and throw my toilet paper in the toilet instead of the trashcan, hobnobbing with government big-wigs and struggling to learn the multitude of acronyms within the "NOAA org chart."

To keep this quick, I'll give you a rundown of the high points.

In no particular order:
  • NOAA paid for everything including airfare, fancy hotel rooms, and tons of food.
  • Our first day was Memorial Day, so we got the day off to roam Washington D.C.
  • It was my first visit to D.C. and it turns out our capital city is fricken awesome!
  • I got to visit two aunts, an uncle, and a friend from my Galapagos study abroad while I was in town.
  • I realized that I might like a career at a federal science organization like NOAA, and that I'm most interested in the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
  • I learned all about the NOAA internship which I'll participate in next summer, and I'm excited to start hunting down potential mentors in Alaska or Hawaii (Pacific Ocean all the way, baby!)
  • I got to tour Oxford Laboratory and meet a research veterinary technologist who preforms necropsies on sea turtles and marine mammals (dream job? I think yes.)
  • I made friends with awesome science nerds from around the country, and even played a little frisbee to boot.

Here is some photo evidence to support my claims. 

The Korean War memorial stood out to me with its inscription, "Freedom is not free." 

Abraham Lincoln is not the only larger-than-life statue in D.C.!

The majestic hall of the Environmental Protection Agency.

They didn't let me get too close... but I pretty much felt like CJ Craig from the West Wing. NBD.

Michelle Obama's bees in the White House garden!

We spent a long time exploring the nooks and crannies of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

So many (stuffed) birds!

We got to practice fish necropsies at Oxford Lab.

There were even two large hawksbills awaiting dissection. I wish we could have helped.

Let's not forget the urban wildlife! Here's an American robin.

Eastern gray squirrel.

European starling.

House sparrow.

A wacky black squirrel!

And best of all, three new friends. :)