My Trip To Iguazu National Park
I have just finished my third year studying Materials Science at Oxford University and went to Iguazu national park in June-July 2018 to work on Green Planet Ventures’ ICMBio data analysis project.
The opportunity to be in a real working environment in another country was a very useful, but also challenging experience. I spent the first week adjusting to work in the office and immersing myself in the culture of a new country, with people around me speaking a different language. It helped that Brazilians are very relaxed, open and friendly. Once I settled in, I grew into a satisfying routine of cracking on with work during the day, then taking time to myself in the evenings. This would include relaxing at the hostel and chatting to others staying in the area or witnessing the sun set over the waterfalls.
Low points? I cannot think of any!
Low points? I cannot think of any! During the first couple of days there were changes within the hostel that affected the dinner service, but that was such a great week with so many other exciting things going on that I hardly noticed and so it mattered very little. I even enjoyed preparing my own food at the hostel in the shared kitchen, as it gave me much more flexibility.
I enjoyed the work I completed, which involved transferring and manipulating the data into a new database with a more usable format and compiling additional information to allow extraction of useful information and outputs. Once the database was set up, I was able to produce graphical outputs to visualise what species and families are the focus of research and analyse other aspects of the data, such as the institutions at which researchers are based. This information will likely be used in the future to help inform policy setting for external research that occurs within the national park. At the end of my internship, I also created and gave a presentation to my colleagues to show the work I had done and demonstrate how the new database was formatted and provide guidance as to how to enter new information, for example. It was very satisfying to see that my colleagues found it really useful and were very appreciative of the work I had done.
One of my highlights was a day trip to the Argentinian side of the falls from the hostel with a small group of people. You can get up much closer to the waterfalls on this side compared to the Brazilian side, which provides stunning views and makes for an extremely exciting experience – it was a day I will not forget any time soon!
A fascinating eye-opening experience
Another interesting activity was taking part in a cultural night at the bird park across the road from the hostel. This experience was based aro
und having a conversation alongside a traditional meal, rituals and dancing with the local Guarani people, to learn about their culture and beliefs. It was a fascinating, eye-opening and spiritual evening.
On the last day, Rafael surprised me with a helicopter ride over the falls whilst the sun was setting as a parting gift – it was absolutely brilliant and the perfect way to round off a fantastic four weeks.