I’ve just ended my fourth week as an REU intern, and my experience so far has been everything I had hoped it would be. I’ve turned strangers into friends, and I’m living in a dorm community for the first time in my life. I endure an hour and a half commute twice a day involving almost 5 miles of walking and a 40-minute train ride, and it’s less difficult every day. I spend 4 out of 5 days a week in a hot and humid greenhouse, taking weekly measurements of a total of 1090 plants. I’ve learned how research is actually done, and I’ve been a part of its formation and execution, instead of just reading about the results. I’m making meaningful contributions to prairie restoration efforts by examining species interactions across levels of phylogenetic diversity. I’ve drowned in spreadsheets, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve been confused and frustrated, and I’ve learned a ton. My experience has been everything I expected it to be, but I never expected it to be easy. If it was, I don't think it'd be worth it.