I am sitting at my desk in room 18 of the marine mammal and bird dorm building. There are currently only three other girls in the hall, most students are moving in tomorrow because they have no class until Monday. It is almost 9pm and the sun has recently set below the horizon, leaving a faint orange in the sky. My room is slowly getting darker and the only light source I will be able is my small desk light. The walls of the dorm building do not reach all the way to the ceiling, so as to use the communal hallway light as a method of lighting all of the rooms as well. But I don’t mind, especially because I have a room to myself.
I have already marked my room as my own, adorning the bed with my soft green sheets and jellyfish-designed blankets, command stripping my Monterey Bay Aquarium Jellies Experience poster to the wall above my bed and placing my air-plant and some books on the windowsill overlooking the stream running through our quiet campus. I can faintly see the ocean from here, in between trees and shingled-covered cottages of the campus. Each cottage has a turquoise door and white trimming that contrasts the brown walls and black roofing. The cottages also feature wooden balconies and outdoor stairs that descend into the yellowish-green grass. The campus to me feels like my own personal getaway, a secret.
To some extent, it is a secret for how few students of the twenty-thousand University of Oregon student population comes to visit. This summer there are only 26 UO undergraduates taking courses here, 10 boys and 16 girls. But this doesn’t account for the full occupants of the campus. There are also interns from other universities, graduate students and, of course, professors.
Across the street from the OIMB campus is the Charleston Marine Life Center, headed by OIMB professor Trish Mace. It is a recent development, only finishing its construction earlier this year. I will be taking care of my own exhibit there this summer, my pet moon jellies. Though I currently only have one jellyfish in the tank, the others encountered an unfortunate bubble incident, I have ordered two more that are supposed to arrive early next week. Trish was excited about the opportunity to try out a jelly display, especially because they have a particularly difficult tank to maintain.
Jellyfish need a circular tank, called a kreisel, that has a continuous current flow so the jellyfish doesn’t get stuck in corners or sink down to the bottom of the tank. They need to be in motion in order to feed. They also need to have a tank that can avoid the creation of bubbles, which can rip through a jelly’s gelatinous bell.
I set up the jellyfish tank soon after arrival because I didn’t want my jellyfish to get overheated in the car. While it was difficult to acclimate the jelly to the different temperature, nutrient content and salinity of the fresh seawater available to fill the tank up, floating the jelly in a container in the new water helped. Last time I checked the jelly was doing well and had full pink stomachs, though I am anxious to see how it’s doing when I check up on it during lunchtime tomorrow.
Tomorrow is my first class at OIMB: Biological Illustration from 8am to 5pm. I was quick to sign up for this class because I have been reading one of Rachel Carson’s novels The Edge of the Sea, which features beautiful illustrations to go with her descriptions. While I know she didn’t draw them herself, it is very important to be able to accurately sketch findings in scientific notebooks. I want to make myself as versatile as possible in this industry and I personally would also like to draw better.
My floral backpack sitting next to me is already packed up with the necessary drawing pad and drawing utensils for tomorrow. Breakfast is at 7am.
It is now 9:30pm and I have turned on my desk lamp. Bird chirps have now been replaced by frog ribbits, reminding me of my home in California where the tree frogs are practically overwhelming. A new girl moved into room 11, making there five of us in this quiet hall.