Written by Cole Moore and Chris Angell
After a long dry spell, the rains came to Wanganui on Monday the 7th. And boy did they come! Many of us began to get rides to class with our host families, rather than suffering a rainy bike ride. Those who biked that first Monday arrived at class soaked from head to toe. They've continued for a week now, through Monday again. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that the thirsty plants are eternally grateful for some water, after about a month without it.
That day, we also began our geology research projects. Sorted randomly into pairs, we have all chosen topics in New Zealand's geology, ranging from gold mining to volcanic eruptions. Each pair will give a 15-minute presentation on their topic on either Monday or Wednesday, as well as write a short research paper going into more detail. Meanwhile, we've been given the final assignment for the Environmental Issues course: a more extensive, open-ended research paper about conservation. We have two weeks to write these essays (this time, on our own). It is daunting, but promises to be a valuable exercise.
All the while in the background, course planning for next year's fall semester has begun. The list of courses offered next semester was posted online when we were in Kaikoura, but as course registration day draws nearer, the tone has shifted from one of idle speculation to serious planning. Chris Smith has become something like a celebrity, with so many biology (and related) majors looking to him for advice.
With so many rising senior biology majors around, planning for Senior Seminar in the fall has also just begun. Every biology major, as well as some relatives like environmental science and biochemistry, is required to do a semester-long group research project on a topic of their choice, culminating in a review article and a presentation.
On Friday, we presented our Kaikoura research projects again, for the benefit of Peter Frost and Meg, who didn't come to the South Island with us. It was a little nerve-wracking for some of us, but it allowed us to get some more feedback on our projects (which was all very positive!) and let Meg and Peter share in a little bit of our South Island experience. (And, for those who care about such things, this means we'll also receive a grade on our presentations.)
There had been some tentative planning for a return trip to Tongariro National Park on Saturday, so that those were interested could complete the Tongariro Crossing, which we missed out on in January because of high winds at the summit. However, the poor weather showed no signs of clearing up over the weekend, so we nixed those plans. That doesn't mean there was nothing to do, however! On Saturday afternoon, Chris and Meg sponsored a trip to the roller skating rink, and on Sunday they invited us to join them in the Splash Center, an indoor pool and water slide. The skating rink was quite enjoyable some of our group; Heather and Jessica even got a lesson from a teacher who was present in the rink. The splash center consisted of several hydro-slides, a lazy river, various hot-tubs, and the coup de grâce a giant inflatable bouncy racecourse. Suffice it to say we had quite an enjoyable time there this weekend.
As of today, the weather is still wet and cold. We're preparing to say goodbye to our host families at the end of the week, but we're excited for our two final trips: Rotorua and the Marlborough Sounds. This semester is going by so quickly!