Back to where it all began
After an unsuccessful attempt to raise the expensive tuition fees for the University of Exeter and postponing my master's due to the pandemic, I have decided to change course on my dolphin journey. Although the programme at Exeter looked brilliant it wasn't feasible to raise money for the tuition fees as well as support myself in a particularly costly part of the UK. So, after much research into other reputable marine departments in the UK I have settled on Bangor University in Wales. Having completed my undergraduate degree at Cardiff University and having lived in gorgeous West Wales as well as being married to a Welsh man, I felt that Wales was calling me back. It's fitting that I would return to the place where my love of dolphins first transformed into a devoted pursuit of my dream career.
Situated on the beautiful Anglesey coast, Bangor University has long been held in high regard for its ocean research. With an impressive faculty and rave reviews from all the ex-students I've spoken to, the department also teams up with Sea Watch Foundation (where I interned back in 2016) working on crucial conservation projects such as the monitoring of the UK's largest semi-resident population of bottlenose dolphins. The course would allow me to gain a broader knowledge of marine biology as well as work in waters I already have a huge fondness for. I was first drawn to Bangor back in 2015. Living and working in Cardiff, having freshly graduated in English Literature the year before, I had begun searching for ways in which I could work whilst incorporating my passion for cetaceans. Inspired by my volunteering with Sea Watch Foundation looking for porpoises from Penarth Pier (which I never did spot!) I contacted the university to see if someone like me, driven by passion and not an educational background, could be accepted onto a Marine Biology masters. After a promising video call the department advised me to undertake an online natural sciences foundation course in order to be considered for a master's at Bangor. However, at £2,000 it wasn't a route I could easily go down and the lure of adventure overseas eventually pulled me away from the idea. So to end up back at the prospect of Bangor feels right for me.
I realise my story has been a little all over the place but there is often no straight path when fulfilling your dreams. I never imagined that I would research dolphins in Japan when I first became serious about pursuing a career in marine biology so I'm used to unconventional ways of chasing my goals! I'm absolutely delighted to have already reached £4,000 in my GoFundMe target and with the cheaper tuition fees at Bangor I am hopeful that I can just about scrape together the total with the help of the generosity of others.
As my time in Japan draws to an end (for real this time) I am looking to finish my research with Kindai University as well as publish some Pacific white-sided dolphin findings with Mutsu Bay Dolphin Research. I have around 6 months to prepare for my master's course (both academically and emotionally) including working my way through some substantial recommended reading and dealing with the heartache of leaving Japan!
Thank you to everyone who follows me on my dolphin journey and has supported me already. In Japan there is an expression that is used almost daily '頑張れ (Ganbare)' which literally translates as 'do your best'. It's more than just an expression here though, it's a way of life. People are inspired and encouraged by others to give it their all. As cheesy as that might sound in English it's something that I have come to respect and a piece of Japan that I intend to take home with me.
Please consider supporting me in raising the funds for my master's degree in Marine Biology.