Ship Life

Boarding and Adjusting

At 8am onAugust 23rd, 2012, I literally embarked on what I knew would be a great journey of discovery.

I knew it would be a great journey shortly after my arrival at Port 20 in Halifax, where my home for the nextfour months awaited me. There, the dean of the school was the one to greet me, and my professors were the ones to help me move my duffel bags into my cabin…talk about hospitality! Seriously though, I don’t know if it’s because I’m not used to everyone being so nice where I’m from, and if people outside of the Metropolitan Area are just overly hospitable, or that the conglomeration of diversity aboard a shipboard community just seems to foster a dynamic sense of cooperation. Either way, I like it! I like that anyone and everyone is always smiling onboard, making me want to smile all the time. I like that my steward, John, folded my clothes without me asking him ( making me more conscious of my disorganization, so that he doesn’t have to do it again!). Honestly, it’s these simple acts of kindness that make me feel safe, despite whatever imbalances my body is feeling…

Only a week after embarkation, I find myself still not over my seasickness (I find myself constantly tired and taking naps, which I usually never do), definitely not adjusted to the increasingly changing times (we’ve lost six hours of sleep since we left), and craving food that hasn’t been sailing with us for the past week and a half (although the food is quite delicious).

I have not made a single phone call or login to Facebook since I embarked, and quite frankly, it is very liberating. I always admire those individuals who give up Facebook or any social media for Lent or for any other form of mental fasting from the virtual world. I never felt capable of doing that, so I am actually really grateful to have it forced upon me.

It is honestly amazing how much ‘extra’ time I have now that I’m not constantly connected; in fact, this was taken a step further when due to the vibrations of the ship, my harddrive collapsed, taking my computer with it :/ Yes, it’s inconvenient, and yes, I plan to go to a computer store as soon as I get off the ship, but even this did not feel as dramatic, as I think it would’ve felt had it happened at home. There’s just something really calming about being in the middle of the ocean: it’s a feeling that no matter what physically breaks and shatters externally, your internal peace and balance are literally the most important things that should occupy your time, especially when you’re walking down the halls and the ship is swinging you left and right and you are slamming into walls.

With the ‘extra’ time I now have, I am dedicated to meeting new people. There is an overwhelming number of people from the West Coast, particularly from California and Colorado, which for me is really interesting, especially because I’ve never been out West- it’s like the West has come to me! To be honest, there is not as much cultural diversity as I would have imagined: except for about 15 international students, most people are second or third generation Americans. Coming from a place that is so close to New York City, however, maybe it’s just not as diverse as I am accustomed to.

Aside from trying to get to know people through what I find to be commonplace questions : ‘What’s your name? Where are you from? What school do you go to? Major? Signing up for any SAS trips? Plans for Ireland? What classes are you taking here?’, I am taking classes…yes, divergent to popular belief, I am in fact taking classes!

My classes onboard consist of: International Business, International Marketing, Global Studies, Astronomy, and World Religions. Although it’s only been a week, I can honestly say that I like all of them so far. They are so purposeful and practical, specifically oriented around the countries that we are going to visit. For example, for my International Business class, we are going on a field trip to a retail company in Brazil that fabricates clothing for merchants around the world. For my Global Studies course, I along with four other girls, are creating a video about the globalization of dance, across the four continents that we visit. For my World Religions course, we are visiting numerous spiritual houses in South Africa. For my International Marketing course, my assigned group and I are creating a marketing plan for an American corporation planning to expand to Brazil. Lastly, for my Astronomy course, the entire course is scheduled to observe the stars whenever the ocean is in our favor, on the highest deck of the ship.

In between and after classes, there are numerous activities onboard, including yoga, zumba, film, french, investment, and ‘insanity’ clubs. These are all student run and cater to the specific interests of those individuals onboard. I have even started a salsa club 😀

Perhaps one of the most ‘real life’ experiences is the congregation of the community for what are called ‘cultural pre-ports’. During these gatherings, numerous faculty members and experts in their specific fields gather to teach us about the history and culture of each country that we will be visiting. So far, we have been oriented on what to do and what ‘not to do’ in Ireland, England, and Belgium.

Although I did get some great ideas, I plan on doing what I know is best for me, that which was reinforced by alums who left me numerous pieces of advice behind a painting in my cabin: ”Enjoy the journey.”

Tour of my Temporary Home

Just in case you were wondering what my new home/ floating university looks like, here are some pictures!

CABIN:

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BATHROOM:

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FACULTY LOUNGE:

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LIBRARY:

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COMPUTER LAB:

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BOOKSTORE:

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PIANO LOUNGE:

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SNACK BAR:

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DINING ROOM:

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CLASSROOM:

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WEIGHT ROOM:

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POOL AREA:

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THE UNION AUDITORIUM:

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Meals

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*one of my typical meals at sea

Breafast: 7:30-8:30am

Lunch: 11:30am-1:30pm

Dinner: 5:30pm-7:30pm

Snack: 10:00 pm

(no snack time while in port)

Meals at sea are all buffet style and usually consist of: 1. Breakfast- Cereals, Eggs, Potatoes, Pastries, PB&J Sandwiches

2. Lunch: PB&J Sandwiches, Mini-Salad Bar, Potatoes, Meat (usually pork or red meat, occasionally chicken), Pasta, Cooked Vegetables, Dessert

3. Dinner: A slight variation of lunch, but basically the same staples

4. Snack: PB&J, Mini-Sandwiches, and Pastries (usually desserts left over from dinner)

*Hot and Cold Water are available 24/7 from the dispensers, provided you have your own mug/water bottle.

*In between meals you can get food at the snack bar on the 7th or 6th decks. The one upstairs closes at 11pm, but the one on the 6th deck is open 24hours while at sea. Snacks on 7th: breakfast sandwiches (10-11am), pizza, burgers, ice-cream, and everything on the 6th deck – Snacks on 6th: chips, snack bars, soda, candy, noodle soups, prepackaged sandwiches, coffee, tea

*If you have special dietary restricitions i.e. are a vegetarian, gluten-intolerant, or lactose-intolerant, let them know on the application form ahead of time, so that they can accommodate you appropriately.

*As a vegetarian on the ship, I felt that there were more than enough options; however, like for anyone else, after a while the food definitely got repetitive, which is why I compensated in port!

*Also, there is an option for you and your friends to have a ‘special dinner’ while at sea at a classroom-turned dining room for an additional cost charged to your shipboard account.

Schedule

This is what my class schedule at sea looked like:

Schedule


At sea, you have the option of taking at least four classes and up to 5. For some reason, it is heavily discouraged to take 5 classes onboard, but it wasn’t bad at all! -The more credits the better!

SAS Accomplishments Part I:

Pic @ Sea

Below is a list of things I realized I would not have accomplished enough in such a short amount of time (3.5 months), if it weren’t for SAS:

ON SHIP: 

  • Partook in a Bollywood dance


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  • Met and lived with an astronaut/ 5+diplomats/ and the US Ambassador to Brazil

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  • Saw dozens of beautiful sunsets and sun rises

Beautiful Sunset

  • Crossed the equator, the Prime Meridian, and 0, 0

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  • Lived on the same ship that Desmond Tutu and Fidel Castro once did
  • Lived with professors/doctors/a clown/ humanitarians/ priests and rabbis
  • Partook in a Jewish ceremony i.e. Rosh Hashanah (ate Hal’s bread and honey),
  • Partook in a funeral ceremony on the ship

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  • Watched a comedy show
  • Came up with a business plan and saw others develop theirs
  • Sang in a choir

Semester at Sea Singers

  • Danced tango/salsa/rumba/and jive
  •  Did insanity in the middle of the ocean
  • Celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving among other things in the middle of the ocean

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  • Survived a few months’ worth of no-Facebook usage –forcing me to socialize and to get closer to some of the most amazing people I have ever met
  • Took part of ‘sea olympics’ and was on the winning team for tug of war!

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Capturing the moment that we made it to the ‘center of the earth’ — ie when the prime meridian and the equator intersect

Ship Life

As we approached the ship in Ensenada, Mexico, butterflies filled my stomach and an instinctual smile took over me – I was home.

Back home to the beautiful sun, whose shine I have grown accustomed to waking up with, replaced by stars in the evening, which I never get to see at home.

I’m back to gaining an hour of sleep every day – soon to be lost incrementally, as we travel to the other side of the world. Speaking of which, when we crossed the International Date Line, we also ‘lost’ an entire day – I fell asleep on Monday night and woke up on Wednesday morning – so there’s no record of my existence on Tuesday, the 21st of February.

So far, I love all of my classes – even International Finance, which the professor doesn’t really teach and instead talks about his life experiences and how many SAS voyages he’s done (I’m grateful I already took one back at my home campus). I’m also taking Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Global Nutrition — But my absolute favorite is Gender and Society, where each day I am enlightened on the vast cultural practices that have shaped human sexuality – from foot binding in China, to families that force their daughters to become boys until the family manages to have one, elevating its social status.

Humans really are interesting. – And that’s exactly what I learn on the ship each day: when you don’t have internet, your days are filled with socializing with the 700+ people on the ship – you attend ‘insight lectures’ at 7 and 8pm to learn more about the world, for the sake of learning. You form bonds. You plan trips. You talk for hours over meals.

You lose yourself. You find yourself.

And in just 7 days, you’re in Japan.

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