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SSP23 BLOG – Week 0

The final week before participants come and join us in Brazil, and everyone's anticipation can be felt as we finalize our preparations to kickstart the Space Studies Program (SSP23) this weekend! With more staff making their way to São José dos Campos this week we are a full house of busy bees to ensure the smooth running of the opening weekend. 

This week was filled with rehearsals and run-throughs of everything we need to know to welcome the participants that are joining us from all over the world. Including a mock open ceremony where some of us got to pretend to be participants. It has been a week of testing out all the teaching spaces, food places, eating too much and becoming familiar with the campus and local cuisine.

This includes being graced by the presence of the famous capybaras as they were seen chilling by the lake as one big happy family. However, nature was also a test this week as we had our first victim fall to a tick (they are back up now, and never really fell). But that was a reminder that even though it’s great to enjoy nature it’s important to keep covered up when in foliaged/grassy areas. And don’t forget to do tick checks – no one is too busy for a tick check!

Figure 1: Capybaras found relaxing by the lake on campus. 

Figure 2: TAs enjoying some time by the lake. 

This week the Teaching Associates (TA’s) were also given the opportunity to develop and practice their departmental presentations, which were excellent and made everyone watching want to be a participant again. This time also made us really realize, 'what would we do without IT', can't get into Zoom? IT comes running. Can't work out how to turn on the microphone? You hear the quick patter of the IT feet as they run your way. This was reinforced by Nicolas Moncussi, the permanent ISU staff in charge of IT onsite SSP23, as he showed us how to do everything and ensured that we never take IT for granted.

Although this week has been a busy week of final preparations, we also made sure to take time for ourselves, and not forget to acknowledge our efforts and appreciate one another. On Wednesday night we took ourselves out for a delicious ‘welcome’ meal at an airport themed restaurant, a metaphor for us awaiting everyone's arrival, but having a good time whilst we do so!

Figure 3: Staff out for dinner 

Thursday was a beautiful day of sunshine and afternoon relaxation. We were given the afternoon to do what we needed to do, whether that be going for a run, resupplying food, taking a nap, getting a haircut, or going rock climbing. The staff have also by now tried pretty much every shopping center and the places to get what one may need. So participants, we have you covered and will have plenty recommendations for you all.