123 Minutes Early and Ready To Go

Nina Finley
August 20, 2013

I’m sitting face-to-face with a Boeing 737 through a wall-sized picture window. A toddler is bawling from the chair on my right, while all my electronics charge on the chair to my left. For once in my life, I’m a little too early, sitting at my gate a full 2 hours and 3 minutes before my flight is scheduled to take off.

I’ve gone through a lot of stages in my preparation for this moment. From the day I saw a photo of a student sitting next to a giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands a year ago, this trip has been my dream. The coordination of credits, applications and financial aid with my home university seemed like a full-time job. The visa application was a nightmare. (If you want to hear that story, leave a comment!) The hours spent reading Galapagos field guides, Jonathon Weiner’s The Beak of the Finch, and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species had me all but ready to begin my career as an evolutionary biologist. I crafted myself a journal with a few of Darwin’s sketches taped on the cover. In my search for images I stumbled on this gem… is August too soon to begin the Christmas list?

Between the practical paperwork, tantalizing literature, and sterling silver accessories, the most important preparation by far has been spending time with friends and family.

Luckily, I got to spend the summer bird-watching with my mom…

Cape Flattery, westernmost point on the US.

Pigging out with my dad…

Yep, that’s bacon on ham.

Beach combing with my sister…

Seastars are friends, not anemones!

And I spent my last day with my boyfriend, exploring our beloved city…

Atop Seattle’s tallest skyscraper, Columbia Tower

Now, sitting at my gate with only 1 hour 23 minutes to go, I’ve already learned a few lessons to share.

1. You aren’t “packed” when all the things you think you’ll need are heaped on top of your closed suitcase and the surrounding floor. Don’t wait till the last hour to see what fits inside the bag.

2. If you do, you won’t have time to shave off the 10 pounds of things you really don’t need.

3. You’ll think you really do need those 10 pounds of books! Until you get to the airport and can’t lift your bag…

4.  Although speaking a foreign language, being disconnected from my phone, and living 4,208 miles from home are all terrifying, the most difficult part of leaving is, always, saying goodbye. It never gets any easier.

5. There’s no such thing as arriving at your gate too early. Time to board!

That’s all for now, though stay tuned for my next post: “The Things I Just Realized I Forgot To Pack.” To be written… as soon as I know what to list. Comment with guesses?

Nina Finley

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Nina Finley is a sophomore at The Ohio State University. She ventured to the Midwest from her hometown of Seattle, Washington to major in Animal Sciences and Evolution &amp; Ecology. She would like to become a livestock vet or marine biologist. When she&rsquo;s not studying, Nina loves to play ultimate frisbee, watch birds and raise meat rabbits. She&rsquo;s passionate about agriculture, nature and Spanish, all of which she hopes to explore in Ecuador. Join the journey as Nina traces Darwin&rsquo;s path and explores the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands!</span></p>

Home University:
Ohio State University, The
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