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Me, Jess, and Jodie – Crazy Poses; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
“Have you ever felt like family to a group of people, though you met them just briefly? I never thought I would be as close as I have with the friends that I have met offshore. Most importantly, I have become super close with friends that I have only connected with in only a few days. I do not know how I could ever leave this particular lifestyle. Currently, I do not want to, I like the feeling like I belong somewhere.” This is how I felt after only three days on the Viking Vision. Honestly, I did not think it was possible to become good friends, let alone friends with a crew so quickly.  It is interesting how everyone you meet has a negative or positive effect on your daily life. I will elaborate more on this in the Tips on how to make a good first impression” section. 
Olga Awaiting Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008
Excellent first impressions: 
When I first stepped on the Viking Vision via helicopter – “Helicopter Ride to Viking Vision; the Quest for Sperm Whales,” I was instantly greeted by the smiling Norwegian able bodied seamen or abs. I was told to make myself feel at home for the next 6 weeks (and I most certainly did)! As soon as I gave my passport to the Captain, I met the Norwegian Chief Officer Jan – from this moment on we became really close friends. Maybe it was his witty sarcasm that drew me to him or his polite manners that he expressed? Whichever reason it was, Jan was an overall sweet guy whom must I add, openly volunteered and taught me Norwegian. I loved his enthusiasm for the environment; he was interested in everything that I observed, I mean EVERYTHING! I remember having a sighting of 40+ Portuguese man of wars and he wanted to know exactly how many I counted! Jan was full of humorous comments all the time – I definitely miss this! Obviously, between the able bodied seamen and Jan, I had two great impressions right from the start!
Olga’s Infamous “I Caught the Sun Pose;” Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 02.2008
Along with Jan, I met four really awesome girls that I absolutely adored! Olga, the Polish Geophysicist was really intelligent and I respected a great deal. Is it possible for one to love sunsets as much as I do? I think in her case, it was! The very first day onboard Olga came up to view the sunset with me; we instantly started talking the full 10 minutes that it took for the sun to actually set that night. When I realized the sunset was over, I could not believe how well she and I hit it off right away. Usually, I thought it would take a few days for me to get settled with the new crew, but after meeting Jan and now Olga, I already had begun to feel at home. One of the highlights of my day when it came to the crew was having Olga take her daily break from the instrument room to watch the sunset with me – during this time we would discuss the colors and take in the last bit of sunlight. It was really refreshing to have someone who adored sunsets as much as I did! When I had to train the crew to search for marine mammals due to the shortage of Biologists onboard, she excitedly volunteered to take the sunset shift with me – we also had various opportunities to take some amazing sunset photographs together. I especially adored her “Catching the sun” pose. Olga had great charisma and was a very positive influence in my life. I continue to remain really good friends with her and still have plans to visit her in Poland one day. 
Jess, me, and Jodie – One of my Favorites; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
The coolest British girl that I ever met on the Viking Vision was named Jodie – we talked traveling every time I saw her. The first introduction we had she passionately conversed her recent travels in the United States. Every “holiday” that she gets when she is onshore she spends traveling to various destinations – this girl is seriously a world traveler! Let me define what a “holiday” is to the individuals that work in the Oil & Gas Industry. A holiday is simply the time that you have onshore and not working. When you are working, you are offshore and not on holiday, comprende? My case is very different; however, I do have holidays, but normally not exceeding 5 weeks. Most men and women who work for the actual Oil & Gas Companies worldwide have a consistent schedule, 5 weeks on and 5 weeks off. It makes planning a lot easier! Of course, I would not know this, but I will trust what they say! This tad bit of information was relevant, because during the 5 weeks that Jodie had as her holiday, she would go diving in every cave, estuary, bay, etc. that you could imagine. Jodie and I discussed her infatuation with New Zealand and Australia; I really wanted to take part in this expedition! Ironically, it took her a few years, but currently she is traveling through New Zealand at the moment and on her way to Australia here very shortly!  Jodie is quite the inspiration for me to embrace my inner traditional backpacker – “Marine Biologist Code of Ethics; Define Not Who You Are, But What You Do.”
Olga, me, and Jess- Super Sunny Days; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
If I could define one person whom possessed an incredible fun loving personality and exerted an immense rush of positive energy that would be my great friend Jess. An observer for the seismic department, Jess demonstrated self-confidence that stood out in front of her colleagues. I can truthfully say that our first impression was one of the best that I ever had (reasons why illustrated later). Not only did Jess have a great first impression, but she had this rare trait which was the ability to stay positive when stressful situations were placed in front of her. At first, I did not deal with stress very well, but she taught me several methods to maintain my self-confidence and rid away stress. Most importantly, Jess reminded me a lot of myself – we were both goal-driven, striving to break away from our brain-washed small town mentality that we still had pieces of, and we both were on our way to achieve our biggest expectations for ourselves. I still remain really good friends with her. I will reveal a fabulous trip that we took part of in a later post – it was officially my third time out of the country! 
Silje Ready for Action; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
Silje was a Norwegian ab in training whom I would have coffee breaks with on a daily basis (even though during our coffee breaks I would drink hot chocolate, not coffee). Silje was one of the first people that I met when I first arrived onboard – she helped carry my luggage to my room. I noticed as we were walking down the steps that we were talking up a storm! We had a lot in common, even though she was a few years younger than me. Silje and I never had a dull moment – since she was a bit younger than me, I treated her like the sister that I never had. I remember many nights that we talked about love, traveling, our goals, and of course boys! While I was outside, Silje would always make an effort to come visit me. She was very interested in the environment as well – she asked loads of questions about marine life and partially because of her I learned a great deal on the Gulf of Mexico inhabitants of the deep. One of my favorite questions that she asked me that involved marine life was, “What is a Portuguese man of war?” During the project I had to write a ½ page description on the Portuguese man of war and place it in my final report. Below is what I had originally written.
Portuguese Man of War with Pneumatophore; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
Insertion in final report:
“What is a Portuguese man of war?” The man-of-war comprises four separate polyps – which makes this a “they” not an “it!”  They get their name from the uppermost polyp, a gas-filled bladder, or pneumatophore, which sits above the water and somewhat, resembles an old warship at full sail. Man-of-wars are also known as bluebottles for the purple-blue color of their pneumatophores. The tentacles are the man-of-war’s second organism. These long, thin tendrils can extend 165 feet (50 meters) in length below the surface, although 30 feet (10 meters) is more the average. They are covered in venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures. The tiny Nomeus gronovii fish is immune to the sting of the Portuguese man-of-war. It lives among the tentacles and even snacks on the stinging tendrils. For humans, a man-of-war sting is excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly. But beware—even dead man-of-wars washed up on shore can deliver a sting. Muscles in the tentacles draw prey up to a polyp containing the gastrozooids or digestive organisms. A fourth polyp contains the reproductive organisms. Man-of-wars are found, sometimes in groups of 1,000 or more, floating in warm waters throughout the world’s oceans. They have no independent means of propulsion and either drift on the currents or catch the wind with their pneumatophores. To avoid threats on the surface, they can deflate their air bags and briefly submerge. 
Awesome article on “How to Treat a Sting from A Portuguese Man of War” – Here is a little hint; it is NOT a person’s urination! ;)
Me in Front of the Bridge; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
Tips on how to make a good first impression:
When I was an active member in my sorority, Phi Mu, I was taught that the first impression is the most important – “5 All-Time Favorite Memories at PSU; Good Times with Amazing People.” Why is the first impression the most crucial you may ask? Well, to tell you the truth, it is by far the most significant encounter that you will have with another human being. The main factor is that you have just a few seconds to make a good first impression – if you do not make a good impression at first; it is very hard to undo this wrong. In other words, you will never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Thankfully we have guides that help us make that good first impression that we all want or in my situation I had a sisterhood that emphasized on a daily basis how important first impressions really were.  Everyone stereotypes everyone on first impression, even if we are reluctant to do it. We all get a first impression of a new person that creates a mental image of his or her personality in our minds. That image of you often lasts and can affect the relationship that follows. I learned from my sorority sisters that with a little extra thought and preparation, you can hone your intuitive style and make every first impression not just good but great.  
Me, Jess, and Jodie; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
The greatest way to make a positive first impression is to demonstrate immediately that the other person, not you, is the center of attention and conversation. If you decide to illustrate that the spotlight is on you only, then you’ll miss opportunities for friendships, jobs, love relationships, networking, and even sales. Show that you are not self-centered, and then first-time acquaintances will be eager to see you again. Not only should not focus on the other person, but you should also demonstrate excellent listening skills. Personally I know sometimes I am at fault for this, in not necessarily giving first impressions, but in general conversations I tend to get easily distracted (I am working on this!). I know we are not all perfect, but acquiring and utilizing proper listening skills will give off a positive vibe unintentionally. Once the individual feels that you are asking questions within their story or conversation, then they will feel more relaxed and will be eager to keep the exchange flowing.  Remember eye contact is the key. In addition, if you want to make the conversation more personal, a helpful tip is to use the new acquaintance’s name frequently – this shows the listener that you paid attention during the introduction. When I first come offshore and introduce myself to the crew, I always use their names in our conversation. Sometimes I find myself stating their name at least four times in one 10 minute conversation, but hey this works! 
I wish someone would have told a certain gentlemen that when he first met me to lose the sarcastic inappropriate humor. It is important that you avoid confrontations, especially with someone you just met. This particular gentlemen’s rapport was destroyed before we even engaged in the last few minutes of our first conversation. What did he do wrong you may ask? Well, he certainly did not wait for his interesting sense of humor to kick in – he assumed that the Captain and I felt the same way he did about a specific topic. One of the worst cases you can do is to make assumptions, but he also did not wait to establish any credibility with us. He was doomed from the moment he discussed politics – specifically his badly chosen quote about George W. Bush and the American involvement. 
Olga’s Other Favorite Pose – “Sun Resting on Hand;” Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
If you want to make a great first impression always tell yourself that appearance counts – this includes proper hygiene. Look at this way; you would not want the opposite sex taking you out on your first date in ripped shorts and crocs, would you? Amusing story, in Florida this happened to me; yes, that was our last date! Anyways, the same goes for when you first meet new people. The best advice that a college professor gave me at PSU is to “Dress for the job that you want to have.” He also mentioned that when most of us do not realize it, “Our listeners tend to judge our intelligence, our cultural level, our education, even our leadership ability by the words we select–and by how we say them.” The professor went to leave us with this final thought,” Enunciate clearly. Alter your pitch, to avoid the dullness of a monotone. Display animation in both voice and facial expression. Gesture naturally, without “canning” your movements.” He explained at a first meeting with one of his thesis students that he was amazed by the unprofessionalism that he perceived from her. He expressed that she did not dress well, nor pronounce her words clearly for him to understand what her thesis was about. Due to this amateurish attitude that he was faced with he decided to set up another “first” meeting with her; however, instead of going over her thesis, he chose to discuss her unprofessional persona that she gave. How embarrassing would this be? Thankfully he helped her, unlike some other college professors and even employers that would have pushed her aside. I am sure he even went over all the tips that I have wrote on how to make a good first impression. After he talked about hand gestures in class and how obnoxious they sometimes can be, I decided to look into the topic of body-language. I discovered that words are only 7% of your communication, while 93% lies with your tone of voice and actual body-language! 
Silje and I; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008
In conclusion, you never know who your first impression may be with, but it is important to maintain your professionalism, as well as convey a good personality. Next time you meet someone think about these tips that I have mentioned, remember preparation is key!
5 Additional good impression tips:
1.  Act as if you are meeting a good friend – this will create open body-language and you may even crack a smile! ;)  This is a pretty good starting-point for getting the listener to reciprocate and for developing a good relationship.
2.  Keep your body-language open – if you maintain this openness, then you will be able to relax and show that you are comfortable. There is nothing worse than a fidgety and arms folded individual that creates tension in your first encounter.
3.  Work on posture – when you stand up straight this demonstrates self-confidence and reassurance about the positive person that you are.
4.  Be positive – Please do not speak any negativity when you are introducing yourself to someone for the first time. Even better, try really hard not to initiate any negativity to anyone you meet (believe me, I know this is hard!) – yet this can be done! I tend to come across this a good bit in the offshore industry. If you keep a good vibe in the conversation, then the listener will not be hesitant to communicate with you again.
5.  Make preparations – The old mirror trick actually works! I am sure we have all told ourselves in the mirror at least once in our life, if not more, that you will ace that test today or you will get that job that you want! Thinking positively to yourself is the answer – you see the fabulous outcome in your mind and visualize it clearly. Secretly, you are telling yourself that you are on the path to success!
Me, Jess, and Jodie Being Silly; Gulf of Mexico: Viking Vision 01.2008

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