I am very sorry for being so slow at posting! There is never enough time in the day, and school has gotten really busy. I will still post about all of the countries, but they are probably going to be a little bit later than usual. The wifi is also an obstacle. It isn’t as strong as I need to upload pictures, so I am doing the best with what I got. I just wanted to talk a little about the voyage so far and keep you all updated with ship-life.
I have been to 7 countries in 2 months, and I am officially at the half way mark. It makes me sad to think that there is only another 2 months left but it’s been an unbelievable time. Since I have been posting mostly about being in country, I thought it would be a good idea just to give an update about what life on the ship has been like; the ups, the downs, the fun and everything in between.
“Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.”
– Rick Warren
It took about a week for it to sink in that I am living on a ship. I still wake up every morning and pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. It didn’t take long for me to settle in and build close relationships with those around me including other students, professors, staff, faculty and crew members. The ship has quickly become home and everyone on it has become family.
I have been waking up around 7:30ish every morning to make it for breakfast at 8:00. Some mornings are harder to get out of bed than others, especially since we have lost 6 hours since we left Germany, and we still have another 15 hours to lose before the end of the voyage.
Between classes, I spend my time studying, typically on deck 7 at the back of the ship. It’s a little quieter, and there is a breeze for those crazy hot days. When it’s colder or rainy outside, I like to study in the Berlin Restaurant because there are classes going on meaning it’s really quiet. Finding your study spot is important and something that has to be established early on. There aren’t really designated areas with tables to do work on so studying looks a little different than at home.
Meals have still been good (for the most part), but they have just become so repetitive. Every once and a while they might have a taco night or something special. After Mauritius we had a big BBQ cookout on the pool deck and it was a great opportunity to chat about our days. The food doesn’t even have to be amazing, but something new is always spectacular. The one thing that I wish I would have brought with me is a coffee press and some good coffee because ship coffee is no longer cutting it. I have reverted to getting a coffee from the snack bar nearly every sea day now.
After dinner at 7:00 pm (or as we on the ship call it, 19:00) ,there is a lecture held in Kaisersaal either by a professor, life-long learner, or the interport lecturer. The lectures have been about so many different topics including introductions to the places we are visiting, psychology, politics, philosophy, global events, business, economics, and technology. They have been a great way for professors on the ship to give us a glimpses into their own research or interests, as well as help us understand our environment around us, both at sea and in country.
PEOPLE ON SHIP AND ON SHORE
Everyone on the ship has become like one big family. We enjoy each other’s company on the good days and are there for each other on the bad. I know that I will keep in touch with so many people in the future and am excited that I will have a place to stay in many states. I am lucky in that one of my best ship friends is someone from my home city so we won’t have to say goodbye. I am already dreading having to say goodbye to everyone in a few weeks.
The crew members are also a huge part of our family and I am so thankful to every one of them. They work so incredibly hard and always greet you with a smile and a hello. My cleaner Angelito is one of the kindest men on this ship and every morning when I walk out my door I can expect an “Oh good morning Miss Amanda! How are you today?” He always has a big smile on his face and I enjoy our short visits every day. The servers know us well enough to know what we like for our meals and how many cups of coffee we have with breakfast. Linval is one of the servers and walking into Lido restaurant every morning and hearing him singing immediately brightens my day.
When we are in port one of my favourite things to do is visit with locals. In Spain, we were able to spend some time visiting with some local restaurant owners. In Ghana, visiting with the sales people at the market was my favourite part. Everyone was so happy to have us and just visit about where we are from and tell us about their culture. The Ghanaian people are so proud of their country and happy to share it with us. In South Africa, our tour guide on our wine tour had a lot of knowledge and was able to share with me a lot about the water crisis and the history of the local culture. India was wild and crazy, but connecting with people over a simple smile is universal.
I have yet to get home sick ,and I think that is because everyone on the ship has become like my family. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family and friends (yes Mom and Dad I miss you too!), but there is such a strong connection with all of us on the ship that it makes being so far from home much easier.
After spending a busy day exploring a new port, I get so excited to arrive at the dock and see the ship lit up. It has become my home. When everyone is back on the ship it’s as if we haven’t seen each other for weeks and everyone stays up late trading stories of their adventures and discussing things that affected them. It’s a good chance to get a different perspective on the same thing that you experienced.
Living on the ship for 5-6 days at a times can feel restricting. Constantly being surrounded by people, we are bound to get on each others nerves every so often. Some days are better than others; and there are some people who are dealing with tough things at home. We can see when our friends and professors are having bad days, and sometimes it’s as simple as a smile to turn someone’s day around.
Then there are days that are literally rockier than others, and that’s when I am ever so thankful that I don’t get sea sick (knock on wood). There has been more than one instance where I have walked into the washroom and there is someone throwing up in the toilet, or in the garbage can, or people occupying both. All I can say is make sure that you have plenty of motion sickness medication.
FUN AROUND THE SHIP
There are always things to do around the ship; and if you go looking for a distraction, you can easily find one. During the day there are people hanging out by the pool or on the back deck. In the evenings, everyone tends to hangout visiting or playing games.
Every so often, a movie is played in the Kino Cinema. Sometimes it is a more educational movie and other times it is a family movie. Everyone brings snacks and a blanket, and we all cozy up to enjoy a movie together. I have gone to see “Lion” and “Babies”, which are both fantastic films that really made me think about what life looks like for other cultures around the world.
As discussed in a previous blog, on one of our study days after leaving Ghana we had Neptune Day. It was a big celebration of us crossing the equator for the first time on our voyage. And coming up, we have Sea Olympics that will be a day-long event where all the Seas will compete against each other in different events. They are fun team bonding days and a good way for us all to put school work aside for a while.
The Astronomy professor has arranged a few night to have the lights on the bow of the ship turned off for a few hours so his class can participate in stargazing. Everyone is welcome to go listen to his talks and enjoy the stars. I love these nights and always layer up (even when it’s still 30 Celsius outside) and bring my blanket to lay down and stare at the sky for a while. I fell asleep one night on the deck. The rocking of the ship was just so peaceful and whenever I look up at the stars I feel like I am at home.
STAYING IN THE MOMENT
It is easy to get swept away by my classes or planning the next port, and although I am putting a lot of my energy into my classes, it is important to make time for myself. To remind me how amazing it is that I am travelling around the world on a ship while taking university classes. I have been journaling, and although I have fallen quite far behind, I know that it’ll be a great reminder of all the small activities we have done, or of some funny stories. Everything around here happens so fast that leaving Hamburg feels like years ago. Keeping a rough documentation is something that I will always value.
I have also been taking a ton of pictures. No picture every does a setting justice because a picture can capture a sight, but not the entire setting; the sounds, the smells, the commotion or the peacefulness. I will go home and show all my family and friends and happily tell them all of my stories, but no one will be able to fully understand the experience.
Semester at Sea has been a fantastic voyage thus far, and I am excited to see what the next ports have to offer.
If anyone has any questions or things you would like me to write about please feel free to contact me or leave a comment. Next post coming soon I promise!
As always, thanks for following along.