Intern Experience in the Field

I’m Amelie van Lynden and I’m from Zeist, the Netherlands. I am in my one-before last year of high school, following a bilingual education program which means about half of our subjects are given in English. As part of this program our school encourages us to organize a work experience week for ourselves sometime during the last two years of high school, which must be spent in an English-speaking environment and is meant to help us in making choices for future studies and careers.

The last few years I have been interested in subjects like geography and earth sciences, which is why I searched for work experience opportunities related to these particular subjects. For most students work experience is all about searching the most sunny and far away place from home in order to have an extra week of holiday during the school year while not actually experiencing anything except for the beaches, sun and pools. For me, it was amazing to have the opportunity to do both in one week: feeling like a professional phd-student and experiencing real fieldwork whilst walking in the sun on the beautiful island of Santorini!

The town of Oia at the northern tip of Santorini

The town of Oia at the northern tip of Santorini

At 04.30 in the morning I left a cold and rainy Holland behind, only to arrive in a warm and sunny Greece. It was the first time for me traveling on my own, which was quite exciting but eventually turned out to be very easy. I was very glad to be picked up by Emilie Hooft and Doug Toomey upon arrival at the airport and to tour the island on our way to the hotel, during which my geological education surely commenced! Beautiful rock formations were pointed out and their origins explained. It was great to actually see things that I’d learnt about in books at school in real life.

Intern Amélie learning how to use a seismometer

Intern Amélie learning how to use a seismometer

The next morning, after breakfast, we all sat down together in the dining room of the hotel and Mike Warner showed us how to install the seismometers. After this we picked up some supplies and then went on our way to two different locations to install the seismometers together and practice with the whole group. We spent the next week placing seismometers all over the main island and some on the two small islands in the middle of the caldeira, which meant a lot driving in the jeeps, hiking with heavy equipment and enjoying a boat ride to a tiny island. It was beautiful to see the hotsprings on Paleo Kameni and it was fascinating to realize that we were standing on a very young piece of earth, when compared to the rest of our world. After having finished a day of work we drove home and went for dinner at around 8 ‘o clock. It was always quite a challenge finding restaurants we had not been to yet, since the amount was quite limited. This resulted in us eating at the same restaurant for three days straight -which I didn’t have any problem with.. the food was delicious!

Installing seismometer on Palea Kameni in the center of Santorini's caldera

Installing seismometer on Palea Kameni in the center of Santorini’s caldera

I am very thankful that everyone treated me as a grownup -instead of a sixteen year old with a limited amount of knowledge on rocks. This also meant that I wasn’t banned to getting coffee and running errands, instead I was able to be a phd-student -albeit the more fun part- for a week and experience how it is to participate in fieldwork experiments. The combination of learning in the field and at the same time touring the beautiful island was a wonderful experience, which made it feel like a week of holiday whilst still being very productive and learning about topics that interest me.

My impression of the life of a geophysicists is one of sunny blue skies, beautiful views over the sea and fun dinners with the group after a hard day’s work. Maybe even have some time to go on an occasional sightseeing tour and have a real holiday-like feeling. Of course I do realize this is a slightly exaggeration of what every fieldwork trip must be like, but I certainly have become very enthusiastic about the possibilities of a future career in Earth Sciences! For this I am very grateful to Mike, Jo, Emilie, Doug and all the others (Tatiana, Mitch, Jack, Auriol, Oscar, Jason, Vasilis and Marios) that I spent the week with on Santorini. Thank you for this adventure!

Amélie van Lynden