Rattlesnakes, corn dogs and sweating – OH MY!

HELLO! This post is not going to be about Sweden, although it is directly connected to my time spent in Lund.

In a previous post, I wrote about my time spent working in a research lab alongside professors, PhD students, and undergraduates like myself. I learnt a whole lot and consequently made some valuable contacts that lead me to where I am now: Ohio!

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So, let me explain to you a bit about how I got here and what I’m doing.

It seems to be that contacts and networking are often key to getting internships, jobs, pretty much anything …Okay maybe not anything, but it makes sense that this would be true. When you work for someone, they can vouch for your character, work ethic, and skills to their friends and colleagues.

While in Sweden I mentioned my interest in road ecology (a branch of ecology that studies the impacts of roadways on nature) to the professor I was working for. As it happens, he had a former post doc (now professor) in the United States working on a road ecology project!

The professor at Ohio University had a masters student studying the impacts of a new road on a population of rattlesnakes. I love reptiles, so I jumped at the opportunity and requested an internship. My professor put in a good word, and his colleague invited me to work with them for the summer of 2016!  

However, this was going to be an expensive opportunity. To fund this trip to the States, I applied for several grants with Glasgow University… and was granted nothing. Luckily, I had lived on a budget in Sweden, so I was able to use my untouched Erasmus+ Grant to pay for the whole thing. Fantastic!

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Me, attempting (and probably failing) to track one of our rattlesnakes using radio telemetry.

So, I went on my merry way to the U S of A.

Life in rural Ohio was very American. I experienced corndogs for the first time (not very impressed, sorry), and blooming onions (much more impressive, please bring this to Europe). I also met a wide range of people from varying backgrounds around the US, which definitely challenged my very European generalised preconception/stereotype of Americans.

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This is one of our Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus). It looks like they’re obvious to see, but trust me they’re not.

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I spent more much time than I’d like to admit climbing over and under wildlife fences.

I worked almost every weekday, hiking crazy steep hills next to a busy motorway (or highway as they say there), sweating like a pig and looking for snakes. And it was amazing.

Ok, there was a lot of science going on too. We used radio telemetry to track the wild rattlesnakes. By implanting snakes with radio transmitters, we were able to relocate them in the wild using a radio receiver. This allowed us to learn where the snakes were moving, what habitats they were using, and determine if they were coming into contact with the road. I learnt a great deal and got valuable hands on experience in the field.

I guess the point of this post is really this: Your Erasmus doesn’t end in the country you go to. When you leave from your semester or year abroad, you’re taking more back with you than several very tightly packed suitcases and very heavy hand luggage.

Going abroad is one of the most challenging things I’ve done, but the benefits that come from it, directly and indirectly, outweigh the moments of doubt.

So when you consider going abroad, or look back at your time abroad, think about all the things that could and have happened only because of your time abroad.

Love and peace,

Your SASA Isabel

 

 

 

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