The past week has been crazy and I have pinched myself every day to make sure that I’m not dreaming. On Sunday, September 9th, 2018, 440 students boarded the MV World Odyssey in Hamburg, Germany to depart on a 106-day journey around the world with Semester at Sea. I wanted to give a quick update about what life at sea has been like so far.
GETTING ON BOARD
Overwhelming; the word that best describes boarding day. The ship was in port at the Altona Cruise Centre where we all checked in, dropped our bags off, filled out forms, went through security, and then through the Gangway onto the ship.
The voyage that I had planned, researched, and saved for all summer long started at that moment. On the ship I found my room, met my roommate, and unpacked. The rest of that evening and the following day was filled with orientation and safety meetings (because as we have all been reminded many times, “we are living on a ship”). There is a total of 8 Canadian students, 3 of which are from the University of Lethbridge.
THE MV WORLD ODYSSEY
As mentioned in my previous blog, over the summer months the ship is used by German Cruise ship company so there are beautiful paintings on the all the walls, beautiful chandeliers and light fixtures in the classroom, nice carpeting, and big comfortable chairs. It’s hard to believe that University students use it for majority of the year. Due to the fact that Semester at Sea turns the ship into a learning voyage from a cruise ship the classrooms are not what you would typically see in Canada with desks and a white board. Instead the movie cinema, restaurants, auditorium, and sun room, are all used as our classrooms, making for a very original learning environment.
There is a salon where we can go to get anything cosmetic done including hair, nails and waxing. And a spa with all of the amenities you can imagine. These all cost extra on top of our tuition but are available to anyone on ship. It is unbelievable to me that this is my school campus for the semester.
The meals have been surprisingly great. I was expecting cafeteria food, but I don’t think I have ever eaten so well. It is all served buffet style; breakfast includes fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, bread, eggs, potatoes, and a meat. Lunch and dinner are pretty similar to each other including a salad station, soup, a cheese platter, a meat platter, sandwich or wrap, choice of meat, fish, potato, rice, and pasta; and with dinner there is also dessert.
It’s been an adjustment trying to communicate with people on board. There is no texting your friends to see where they are or if they want to hang out, so we have been using good old fashion stickie notes.
My friend Mackenzie and I leave little notes on each other’s doors to say where we are going to be studying or what time to meet for a meal. Check out Mackenzie’s Blog, she is also from the University of Lethbridge, and received the Brawn Family Foundation Scholarship.
We all have unlimited access to our school email (seamail) and websites needed for classes, but limited access to wifi. We are all allotted a little bit of wifi each day and then once it runs out you can purchase more if wanted. I am enjoying being disconnected from my social media and not relying on my phone. I’m finding I have much more time in my day.
We started classes on Tuesday, September 11 which was a pretty rocky day (and by rocky, I mean that the ship was literally rocking). Many people were unable to make it to class or had to leave because they got sea sick.
All of the professors are very enthusiastic and passionate about what they are teaching making me look forward to what the rest of the semester has to offer. Going to be challenging but I am ready to take it on.
Being completely surrounded by the ocean is a new experience, nothing but water for miles in every direction. Every day there have been whales and dolphins playing in the distance; a few people have seen sharks, sea turtles, sun fish and flying fish. Trying to study or pay attention in class with so much to look at in the background is going to take some getting used to.
I have been sure to get up early to watch the sun rise every morning, and try to see the sun set every night; my goal is to see as many as I can.
“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” – Wendell Berry
Thanks for following along!