Fourteen hours into a 21 hour train ride, I began to second-guess myself: had I make a mistake in weighing the cost vs. benefit ratio of my trip?  After 19 hours of flights and layovers to reach St. Petersburg, a maze of buses and subways, a 21 hour train ride to a small town in northwest Russia, a concerning “off road” bus ride to a discrete dock, and a very cold boat ride through the gray bleakness, we finally reached the remote field station along the White Sea.  I was exhausted, and (as the person who had travelled the farthest) becoming concerned that perhaps I was being too indulgent with time, money, and resources by travelling this far to learn protocols and information that I could have probably obtained by reading a paper or walking to a neighboring lab at Berkeley.

Fourteen hours into the program, I had no more doubts – travelling halfway around the world to discuss scientific questions and to collaborate with researchers from various parts of the world is absolutely worth it.