By Matthew Woodstock
My name is Matt Woodstock and I am a member of the first LOREX cohort! Full-time, I am a PhD student at Florida International University working with Yuying Zhang on an ecosystem modeling project of the oceanic Gulf of Mexico (seaward of the 1000 m isobath). For the next six weeks, I will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada conducting research at Dalhousie University. My research goal is to develop a model of the phytoplankton and detritus biomass in the oceanic Gulf of Mexico, which will (hopefully) be incorporated into a larger ecosystem model. I will be accompanied by four other graduate students from universities around the U.S. (Boston University, University of South Carolina, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and Washington State University). Throughout our tenure, we will be living together in an Air BnB that is approximately a ten minute walk from campus. We arrived last night (6/1) and are getting our first opportunity to explore the city today (6/2).
Getting to Halifax
As is typical when dealing with air travel, you must expect the unexpected. My original flight plan was to fly from the Fort Lauderdale airport at 7:45 am, have a layover in Newark, NJ, and arrive in Halifax at approximately 4 pm local time. I got to the airport at 6 am in plenty of time to make my first flight. As I was in line to drop off my luggage, I received a text saying my first flight was cancelled and to see an airline representative to make other arrangements. This led to a Disney World-esque line and some incredible people watching as I watched the wrath of God come down on the poor airline employee tasked with reconfiguring every passenger’s flight plans. Through the comfort of country music ringing in my headphones, I remained calm and received a new itinerary. I would now be flying to Montreal at 3:30 pm (8 hours after my original flight) and arrive in Halifax near 11:30. Great! my only problem now is Air Canada (my new airline) did not have a scheduled flight until 2 pm, so I could not check-in or go through security. It was now 8 am on a Saturday morning, I had four hours to kill. Naptime. Fortunately, I went out with some friends the night before to see the new Godzilla movie (5.5/10 stars) and could use some rest. At this point, I would like to thank the Fort Lauderdale airport for having comfortable seating in the “reject section” of the airport. I awaken, refreshed, ready to go….at 8:30. With still approximately three hours before the airline opened, I had to get resourceful. I opened my laptop, and began working on the multitude of tasks that were on my docket. Somehow, like Bradley Cooper in the movie “Limitless”, I became the most productive human being in history. Those three hours flew by, as I made significant progress on my work.
11:30 comes around, the airline opens, I check in, and move through security. I go to a small bar for lunch, order a drink and some nachos. Now, at this point I must say that I love baseball. I played baseball from the time I could pick up a bat, until I graduated from Beloit College. A NCAA baseball game was on the tv (great game by the way), and I was actually enjoying the situation I was in. Then a man walks up; big, burly, though guy. He wanted nothing more than to watch the UFC fights. I did not object (cause you know; big guy) and oblige when the bartender asks if we can change the channel. The bartender changes the channel, but instead of the fights, the television is now programmed to “The Secret Life of Pets” (8.5/10 stars). Somehow, in the strange universe that I have been transported to, nobody demands the channel be changed. I finish my meal, pay my tab, the movie ends, and I occupy myself until my flight. If I am ever on a flight where I am not in the immediate vicinity of a crying baby, I will play the lottery.
Regardless, I am now in Montreal, but I do not speak French. Confused, and unsure if I am being helped or insulted, I make my way to the appropriate gate. My flight to Halifax may now be delayed due to intense fog. WooHoo! We end up leaving ten minutes later than we are supposed to, and a potentially frustrating situation turns into a smooth ride as I land in Halifax at midnight. I grab my luggage and meet up with fellow LOREX participant Eilea Knotts. A short taxi ride later and we are finally in our destination!!! I connect my phone to WiFi and head to bed.
This morning, we awoke hungry and ready to explore Halifax. We headed to the grocery store, picked up some supplies, and have now settled in a local coffee shop called Dilly Dally. This is a small coffee shop that is just a few blocks from our house, with great prices AND WIFI! It is a rainy day (which is apparently common), and our excursion into the city may have to wait for another day. However, I have six weeks to figure that out. The journey to Halifax was long and at times frustrating, but now that I am on the ground, I am ready for this to be a successful international experience.
That is all for now!