A Day in Mauritius

Hello Everyone,

 

Semester at Sea stopped in Mauritius for a day. The 2000 km 2 island is located off the coast of Madagascar and has a population of roughly 1.3 million people. Through colonialization, Mauritius has been under rule of the Dutch, English, and French until it gained independence in 1968. Due to the vast differences in cultural influence, the people are very accepting. It is a melting pot of cultures where everyone speaks multiple languages and is accepting of different religions.

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Due to the fact that we were only in port for a few hours, we could only get off the ship if we were registered in a field program. I signed up for a Catamaran day (because being out at sea for 6 days made me want to spend more time on a boat); I am always happy when I get to be out on the water. We got on the boat, went looking for dolphins and came across a large pod. We got to watch them play in the waves for about an hour before continuing on with our day. I learned that when you see a pod of dolphins from the surface, you can only see about a third of them, so I am guessing we saw at least a hundred.

 

We then sailed into one of the bays to anchor, do some snorkeling, and relax for a while. For those of you who know me, you know how much I love to be in the water. As soon as we dropped the anchor I raced to the back of the boat, grabbed some goggles and jumped into the water. The coral and fish were extraordinary, as Mauritius is known to have some of the best snorkeling around the world. We spent a few hours in one spot so I stayed in the water until I pruned and then spent some time relaxing/napping on the boat. The crew prepared a fantastic BBQ for us with chicken, fish, salad, rice, potato salad, corn, and plantains. The next time I go to a BBQ and am asked to bring something to share, I’ll be bringing a bunch of bananas to throw on the grill with a pinch of sugar; I can’t get enough plantains. The entire day was a great and much needed break from studying.

 

 


I would like to add in that some of the reefs I saw were bleached. Before going to Mauritius, we had a long discussion on the ship about how to help conserve coral reefs. I am no expert, but studies have shown that sun screens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate are very harmful to coral and marine life. Please check your sun screen before applying it and be sure not to purchase sun screens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Reefs at Risk is a website containing more information about this issue as well as a list of sun screens that are safe for reefs. I would encourage everyone to check it out to ensure that our oceans stay vibrant and healthy. Although we can’t reverse the harm we have previously caused, we can make a difference by changing how we act in the future.

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Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com


SAS Faculty organized a huge BBQ dinner for everyone when we got back on the ship. We all hung out on the pool deck feasting and enjoying each others stories about the day. There was even an ice cream bar! When you are living in a small space for long periods of time, it’s the small things (such as an extravagant BBQ dinner) that make the day that much better.

 

I wish we were able to spend more time in the country, but there is still so much more to see.

Next stop, India!

 

As always, thanks for following along,

Amanda Abroad

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6 Days in South Africa

Hello again,

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

After 6 days out at sea, we made it to Cape Town. I have dreamt of travelling to South Africa for 5 years; I could barely hold in my excitement as we pulled into port. We arrived a few hours later than expected, but it was nice to enjoy all the sights as we came closer to the land. One of the professors had a “wildlife watch” on the bow of the ship where we observed many birds, seals, fish, and whales. Cape Town is an immense, vibrant city with so much to offer.


WATER SHORTAGE

As I am sure many of you have heard, Cape Town was in the news around the world with the worry that it would be the first city to run out of water. I was concerned about travelling through the city but soon realized after arriving that there was no need to worry.

Last year around this time, the city of Cape Town’s water reserve was running at an all time low, and the government had to restrict each individual to 50L of water a day. Although this was a mandatory limit, there were still people who were not cutting back on their water use, and the city was concerned about how low the dam level was. They wanted to scare the locals into cutting back on water usage by stating that there was a chance the dam could run to low to leave the taps on at a level of 13.5%; they called this Day-Zero. As soon as national news reporters caught wind of Day-Zero, it was blown out of proportion. There was no real threat that the reserve would run dry, but if individuals were not limiting their water use, they were going to shut off all the water taps and set up water stations around the city, where people would have to go to fill up a pale of water each day, as a means of monitoring the water use.

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This was the first time in history that the reserve was this low. Due to the fact that the recent years have been warmer than in the past, their rainy season was very dry last year, and there has been an increase in the population.

Also as a result of the news getting reported around the world, many tourists cancelled their holidays leaving many tour guides and companies with a slower season than years passed.

Now the water levels are more than double what they were last year around this time at about 76%. The city is no longer worried about running out of water, however, it has made the people much more conscious about their water consumption. There are signs graffitied all over the city, on posters and in bathrooms, asking everyone to be aware of how much water they are using and to only use as much as is needed.


WINE TASTING

The first full day in Cape Town, a couple friends and I booked a wine tour to take us through the wineries around Stellenbosch. We went to 4 different wineries, sampling 23 different wines including some CBC’s, Brandy, and a blend unique to South Africa called a Piontage. It was a perfect way to start our time in the country getting a little tour of the city and surrounding landscape. The landscape around the wineries reminded me of the Okanagan area in British Columbia, very mountainous filled with rows and rows of fruit orchards.


SAFARI

How can you go to Africa and not go on a safari? I signed up through Semester at Sea to participate in a 3 day, 2 night trip to the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. We all hopped on a bus and enjoyed a 5 hour drive through the country. The landscape looked quite similar to Southern Alberta with the fields of crops and mountains. The only difference was that instead of cows roaming the fields, there were Ostrich.

When we got to the reserve, we were welcomed into a beautiful lodge and fed a fabulous 5 course lunch. The ship food has been pretty good, but it was nice to mix things up. After lunch, we were shown to our rooms. Our room was a luxurious tent with a big bed (heated blankets included), a big soaker tub, and an outdoor shower. Our patio overlooked the valley where we could see some Springbok (South Africa’s national animal) and Wildebeest grazing. It was so peaceful and relaxing, which was a nice break from studying. The Reserve was named after a mountain on the property that has a large rock on the top. During European Colonialization and trade, someone would be posted on top of the hill to keep a look out for incoming ships. If a ship was coming into port they would create a smoke signal so the people in the town below could prepare supplies to stock the ships.

The Reserve also rescues all of its animals, the lions were all rescued from a Big-Game Hunting Park that breads animals to then be hunted by tourists. The elephants were rescued from a circus. There is 1 rhino killed every 8 hours around Africa from poaching. It is important that more reserves like this open around Africa because there are many animal species that are endangered due to poaching and hunting. The animals on the Botlierskop Reserve have free roam of the  4200 ha property, hunting their own food and living as they would in the wild.

Over the next 2 and a half days, we went on 4 game drives around the property, separated into 2 trunks. Our guide was Neil, a South African man who studied biology at the University. He has worked at the Reserve for 13 years and it is easy to see how passionate he is about his work. Any question you had for him about an animal, he had the answer.

It was a lot colder than expected, and I thought I was over packing when I brought my toque but am I ever glad that I had it. On the morning drive it was only 6 degrees Celsius and very foggy, but the cooler weather meant that the animals weren’t hiding in the shade. Not the weather I was expecting in Africa.

Over the few days, I saw all sorts of animals including springbok, impalas, wildebeest, blue cranes, rhinos, giraffes, lions, elephants, and hippos. I could hardly believe that I was in Africa on a Safari but enjoyed every minute. Since we had 3 days of game drives, we were in no rush and took advantage of enjoying each moment watching the animals in their natural habitat. I don’t think I could choose a favourite animal because they were all so amazing! The elephants are such gentle giants; rhinos are very peaceful; giraffes are beautiful and amazing creatures; and the lions were so lazy. On the last morning, a lot of us took part in a horse back safari (the lions were in a different area, don’t worry Baba). It was cool to be one with the animals going through the fields.

In our free time, I got to enjoy some pool time and a canoe ride down the river, as well as some relaxation by the fire. It was a fantastic few days with great company and fabulous guides. For any future Semester at Sea students, I would highly recommend signing up for this field program.


HIKING TABLE MOUNTAIN

IMG_8751On our last morning in Cape Town, a friend and I set out to hike up table mountain, and the plan was to take the cable car down. We left the ship at 06:00 and almost got blown off the gangway it was so windy. We decided to at least go to the bottom of the mountain and then decide if we wanted to hike up, so we ordered an Uber and off we went. The driver told us that the winds would die down by 09:00, spoiler alert, they did not. As we hiked up the mountain, the winds got stronger and stronger because the gorge we were hiking up funneled the winds directly to us. Closer to the top, we were practically on all-fours climbing up hoping that the winds wouldn’t be so strong at the top. It took us about an hour and twenty minutes to climb up, but it was even windier at the top. I jumped up and got blown 3 feet back it was so strong. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really even enjoy the view because of how cold it was, even wearing 4 layers, a wind breaker, mittens and a toque. We took a couple quick pictures, did a little exploring and then made our way back down because the cable car was closed due to the strong winds.


South Africa was even better than I had anticipated, and I cannot wait to go back again. I immediately felt at home there and hope that it isn’t long until I can return.

Thanks for following along,

Amanda Abroad

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Neptune Day

Hi again,

There is a tradition on Semester At Sea to celebrate the first time crossing the equator. It’s called Neptune Day, and represents leaving behing the Pollywog status and becoming an Emerald Shellback. It is meant to give praise to Kind Neptune to help us through the rest of our voyage.

07:00 we were woken up by crew members playing drums, bells and whistles marching up and down the hallways.

08:00 everyone had to report to the pool deck, swimsuits on and sunscreened up.

We had to plea to King Neptune to allow us to cross the equator, and become Emerald Shellbacks (meaning we have crossed the equator once). As we stood there in the rain dancing and singing, the first group of Pollywogs started the rituals:

  1. Get covered in slime
  2. Swim through the pool
  3. Kiss 2 fish (yes real fish!)
  4. Praise King Neptune (Dean Bob) and his Queen (Abby)
  5. Get Knighted
  6. Optional head shaving (I chose to keep my hair)

I have never started a party at 8:00 in the morning before but it was such a fun way to celebrate. When it came time to actually cross into the Southern Hemisphere there was a buoy marking where the equator is, other than nothing but water as far as the eye could see, I have to say that the two hemispheres looked pretty similar. Physically crossing over the equator isn’t something that many people get to do by ship, and I am honored to now be a Emerald Shellback.

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Thanks for following along,

Amanda Abroad

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Ghana

Hi Everyone!

If there is one thing that I will remember most from Ghana it will be the people. The beautiful and welcoming people. Wherever you go everyone is saying hello, shaking your hand, and genuinely interested in where you come from. As a traveller I have never felt more welcomed into a country.

We docked the morning of September 27, and as the ship was being tied up a local drumming and dance group welcomed us with music from the docks. Music is integrated into almost all aspects of Ghanaian culture so it was nice to get a taste of what we would be hearing for the next 4 days before even stepping off the ship.

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FIELD TRIP IN GHANA

I had my World Music field class on the first day. We went into a small village on the outskirts of the city to learn about music and culture, as well as practice some of our musical skills. Our teacher for the day was Jerry Ei who is a local music instructor who has traveled around the world teaching as well as performing traditional African drumming.

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The day started off with a lesson on how drums are made and fixed, and then we moved onto drum lessons. We all sat on the roof top with the rolling hills in the background. Jerry went through the basics before moving onto more difficult rhythms. It was amazing to hear the beating of all the drums fill the air and see everyone with huge grins. As the pace picked up my hands were trying so hard to keep the beat but my left hand was struggling. It is amazing to see how easy the professionals make it look. You can’t help but love African drumming.

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We then had a short dance lesson with one of the performers. In Ghanaian culture it is almost impossible to separate music, dance, and drama as they are all integrated into once piece. There is little separation between the performers and audience unlike what we are used to North American culture, so if the music or song moves you it is appropriate for you to join in.

We had a bell lesson and learned a short lullaby later in the day. Jerry was genuinely impressed with how quickly we picked up the rhythms and patterns. At the end of the day we got to watch a performance with drumming, singing and dancing by a local group. It was so special to be a part of such a close nit group of people for a day. The music completely energizes you. There was a woman down the street hanging clothes dancing to the music, and some children playing, dancing and singing along. I don’t think it is possible to watch and African drumming performance without a huge smile.

I think this was probably my favourite part of being in Ghana. Spending the day with the locals, being welcomed into their home with open arms, and learning about such an important part of their culture.

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ACCRA AND THE MARKET

Accra is the Capital City in Ghana housing approximately 2.25 million people. The city is spread out with some office and apartment buildings but mostly made up of smaller townships. There are many structures remaining from the European Colonists that have since been passed down through generations that some families live in today.

The shuttle bus dropped us off downtown in a parking lot and the adventure began. My favourite part of being in a new place is just being able to walk around soaking in my environment.

We made our way to the old market in Accra along the Ocean to do some bargaining. Some other SASers who made it to the market the previous day told us how tough the locals were at bargaining. I was thinking that they had never had to bargain before and didn’t know what they were doing but after 5 minutes in the market I knew what they were talking about. The locals are very persuasive and great sales people. I also have never been to a market where I speak the same language as the owners of the shops which is probably part of what made it more difficult. They were all so nice and happy to have us in their country. Almost everyone who had a stall came up to us and introduced themselves, shook our hand and asked where we were from. Shopping and purchasing an item through bartering is a very social experience and is a fun was to get to know the person selling you the items. We bartered our little butts off that’s for sure.


GLOBAL MAMAS BATIK WORKSHOP

I registered in a field program through Semester at Sea to take a tour of the Global Mamas office and then take a Batik workshop. For those of you who don’t know about Global Mamas, they are a company based out of Ghana, who empower women in their community to become financially stable and fulfill their dreams. They teach the women how to handle their finances, how to save money, and the basics of running a business. The women start by Batiking or Sewing for Global Mamas and are encouraged to branch out and gain more business for themselves. You can find Global Mamas products in many stores around North America (specifically at Ten Thousand Villages).

The afternoon was spent taking our Batik workshop. Batiking is a way to die cloth, beginning with a white sheet that is then stamped with foam dipped in wax. The fabric is then soaked in a mixture of water, dye, and some chemicals before being hung to dry. Depending on the colour that the fabric is dyed in it might not change to the desired colour until it is oxygenated through drying. Once dry the fabric is then rinsed in hot water to get rid of the wax and hung once more.

At the end of the day it was amazing to look at my piece of cloth and be able to say “I made that”. It takes a lot of skill to be able to produce high quality Batik consistently. I am very thankful to the women at Global Mamas and Marry (the Batik instructor) for taking the time to teach us more about their company and show us how the fabrics are made. I highly recommend finding a shop near you to check out Global Mamas products.


CAPE COAST CASTLE AND EMLINA TOWNSHIP

“Look back to the past to help us more forward in the future” – Ghanaian Proverb

The tour that I took of the Cape Coast Castle was the most impactful moment of my trip so far. The castle built in 1653 was used to traffic African men and women during the slave trade. No matter how much you read or hear about the horrors that thousands of people went though, nothing is more powerful than standing where they stood. It was mind boggling to walk through the dungeons where slaves were kept, meanwhile in the room above their heads was a Chapel for the white man living above their heads to pray and hold services.

This is a part of Ghanaian culture that has drastically shaped who they. Our tour guide told us that “we may not be able to make up for our ancestors actions but we can say sorry”. That statement is something that will stick with me.

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After lunch we had a walking tour of the Elmina Township where we were able to immerse ourselves in the local fishing village and see how so many people make their living.

 

Thanks for following along,

Amanda Abroad

Note: for anyone who is looking to contact me amanda.sakundiak.fa18@semesteratsea.org is the email address that I have the easiest access too.

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4 Days in Spain

Hi everyone!

2 ports down 9 to go! Spain was nothing like I had expected it to be but  it was so much better.


BARCELONA

We arrived in port at 7:00 am in SPAIN! We docked a little early so I missed us pulling into port but was able to make it in time to watch them tie up the ropes. There were a lot of students who were able to make it out of bed and we all watched the sun rise.

Once cleared by customs we flooded off the ship to take our first steps into a new country. A couple friends and I spent the day walking around the city stopping at anything the intrigued us. The day ended up being filled with the sights of Gaudi which was spectacular. We ended with some Sangria and a wonderful meal at a small local restaurant.

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The Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter was our first main stop which took my breath away and sent me into a total state of awe. The dark and dramatic lines completely draw you in. It was beautiful to hear the choir singing in the background and to see people coming in to say a prayer.

The next stop on our Gaudi tour was Casa Batllo and Casa Milo, two more beautiful structures. It is amazing to follow the lines of the buildings and see how they twist, bend and expand. They almost seem to have a movement; and it is easy to see that much of Gaudi’s inspiration came from nature and his surroundings based not only on the animals on the buildings but aslo the different textures used.

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

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La Sagrada Familia was the last big stop of the day. Antonio Gaudi designed the church and in 1883 construction began with scheduled completion in 2026. I had done a little bit of research prior to leaving for this trip and had known a little about the structure and building process but turning the corner and seeing the mass that is Sagrada Familia was spectacular. The church stands on an entire city block and reaching tall into the sky. Every inch of the building is covered in detail with all sorts of natural inspiration; from lizards, snails, and sea shells, to the patterns on the pillars like snake skin and fish scales. We spent an hour and a half just walking around the outside taking in as much as we could.

Walking through the entrance of the building your eyes are immediately drawn upward. Gaudi designed the giant pillars to imitate trees, transforming from a hexagon into arms that branch across the ceiling. The stained glass filling all the windows starts dark at the bottom and lightens as it gets higher. There were people from around the world who gathered in the unfinished structure to awe in its beauty. We spent over an hour and a half just in the church and then spent about an hour walking through the museums displaying information about the construction of La Sagrada Familia and Antonio Gaudi. It would be amazing to go back when construction is complete and see the entire building as Gaudi himself wanted it to be.

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Day 2 in Barcelona started off with an amazing breakfast (as recommended by a friend) at Brunch & Cake. If you are ever in Barcelona I highly recommend it. I had a laté and an eggs benedict with eggs, a lobster hollandaise sauce, shrimp, rice, black waffles and a side of arugula salad. All of the dishes that came out of the kitchen looked almost too beautiful to eat.

We then spent the day walking through the city with the goal of making it to Park Guell (another of Antonio Gaudi’s works of art). We were unable to get tickets into the main area of the park but there are lots of walking paths through the public area. We ended up on top of the hill with an amazing view overlooking the entire city all the way to the port where we could see the ship (Home).

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Barcelona it was a beautiful city filled with many welcoming people. We learned in our global studies before we got to port that many of the local people are unhappy with the tourists and are trying to get them to leave. Although we experienced a few people like that for the most part if you took the time to visit with the locals or ask them about their businesses they were very welcoming.

We walked about 40km in the two days we were there and still didn’t see everything that we had hoped too. Just means that I have a reason to go back some day.


VALENCIA

Valencia was a lot more laid back than Barcelona was, both with the amount that we did and the pace of the local people. This port was mostly spent sight-seeing and relaxing. We started at the Arts and Science buildings that were quite unique providing a contrast to the old buildings we had been looking at the past couple days. The modern buildings look like something from a si-fi movie. They have water beds around them that create perfect reflections making them look almost like living creatures.

We then walked through a park named Turia which cuts through the city, it use to be a river bed that flooded the city many times and eventually they decided to reroute it to go around the main city. Instead of turning the dried-up river bed into a road way or buildings they converted it into a beautiful park that was filled with people out for a walk, taking their dog to the park, or out for a bike ride.

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Once we got to the opposite side of the city we took our time walking around, past the Cathedral and into the Square where we did a short walk through city hall. We also had the chance to walk through the local market which was filled with all kinds of fresh food from fruits and vegetables, to meat and fish. The difference in cultures was quite obvious as this is where most of the locals get their groceries for the day. The meat stalls had whole rabbits, cow hearts and tongues, and pig skins. There were also a lot of meat stalls that were selling smoked pig and bacon, displaying all the pig legs by hanging them from the ceiling.

Our feet sore and tired we decided it was time for a glass of wine which then turned a bottle and then dinner (I had to get my fill of Spanish wine in Spain. It would be rude not to). We had Paella for our meal which is a local rice dish that can be ordered with different ingredients; ours was a sea food Paella with shrimp, octopus, prawns, and craw fish. It’s a must have in Spain!

We spent the last day on the beach relaxing and getting some reading done for classes, with one more stop at a restaurant for more Tapas.


Spain was a great way to start off our travels and a nice ease into different cultures. Our next stop is Ghana which will be very different than what most of us students are used to but I am looking forward to another country and embracing another culture.

 

Thanks for following along!

Amanda Abroad

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First Week at Sea

Hi everyone!

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

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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.


MEAL TIME

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.


COMMUNICATION

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.


CLASSES

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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.


SEA LIFE

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!

Amanda Abroad

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Pre-SAS Travels

Hello everyone!

Just a little recap from my pre-SAS travels.

I decided to take advantage of having to go to Eurpoe before embarking on Semester at Sea and my mom also decided to take advantage of the oportunity and leave North America for the first time in her life! I am so glad that she was able to come along and that I got to experience travelling through different cultures with her.

London, United Kingdom

We started our travels in London, England where we packed all of the must-see sights and experiences into 4 days. A walk around Kensington Park, Kensington Palace, the Natural History Museum, Buckingham Palace (which we did a tour of and had coffee and scone looking out over the gardens), Westminster Abby, the London Eye, and Parliament; a road trip to Windsor Castle, Roman Bath, and Stonehenge; sight seeing at the London Tower, Tower Bridge, Paddy Sark; and finally explored Greenwick. It was a busy trip but I quickly fell in love with London. It’s a busy city filled with people and commotion – and it was all perfect.

I was quite happy just to walk around looking at all the buildings with the year they were built on them, seeing dates in the 1800’s, 1700’s and even earlier. Back home in Alberta we don’t have that kind of history in our city structures. We also got a chance to take in even more history when touring the castles in and around London. Listening to the stories behind every detail of the castles from the type of stone used, the reason the colour of a room, the paintings and decor, to the type of music played was mind boggling.

One of the highlights from the trip was a night out at Gordon’s Wine Bar. Established in 1890, it is thought to be the oldest wine bar in London. It is a small bar and the sitting area is in a small tunnel lit by candle light. The floor isn’t even and the tables are rocky but it has so much character that has lasted over a century. If you are ever in London I highly recommend checking it out! Gordon’s Wine Bar.

My favourite day was spent touring see Windsor Castle, Roman Bath, and Stonehenge. I would have prefered being able to spend an entire day at each location however due to our time constraint we had to do it all in one day. I was most suprised with the Roman Bath as I had no idea there is a whole city called Bath (that I wish we had more time to explore). The most memorable location of the day though was Stonehenge. This was the reason we booked the tour in the first place and now it is another thing checked off my bucket list. Stonehenge facts; it is 5000 years old (older than the great Pyramids), took 800 years to build, were used for 1500 years, and were built in 3 stages by the Druids; 1. The Great Curses, which is the big ditch that surrounds the stones; 2. The Aubrey Holes, thought to be from wood pillars possibly used to lift the stones and were dug out by deer antlers or oxen sholder blades; and lastly 3. the Stones. There were origionally 30 arches in the outside circle made from sarsen sandstones found 320 miles away; and 5 arches in the middle of the circle forming a horseshoe shape made from bluestone. Only 40% of the origional structure remains today. They are unsure as to why they are built due to the fact that they were erected before written text was used. Some theories are that they were used as a temple, graveyard, or calendar. Although not as big as I was expecting, it was humbling to stare in awe at them (listening to the sheep in the surrounding fields “baaaaa”).

I loved London more then I thought I would! Hopefully I can return again soon.

Hamburg, Germany

Never had I thought about planning a trip to Hamburg nor did I know much about the city before learning that it was the port of embarkation for SAS, but I am happy that I was able to visit and would recommend it to others. The port city is full of character and charm with never ending bridges (fun fact: Hamburg is home to more than 2500 bridges) and beautiful views. We stayed in St. Georg area only a few blocks from central station and spent most of our time walking through the streets and just enjoying.

Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, and one of the world’s largest ports. We did a boat tour through some canals and saw the world’s largest historical warehouse district built between 1883-1927, with the first building finished in 1888. It was built on a canal for small boats to access cargo to take to larger ships, and the structures are used today for many different things from carpet, coffee and spice warehouses, museums and music halls, to appartments and offices.

We also spent some time awing at St. Nikolai church, originally a small chapel built in 1195 that was slowly built up over the next few millennial until 1657. During the ‘Great Fire’ of 1842 the church mostly burnt down along with about 1/3 of the entire city. The  reconstruction of the church started in 1844 and was not finished until 1882. In 1943 during WWII St. Nikolai being the tallest structure in the city was the target for the bomber planes, and like much of the city, the church was destroyed. Only the tower remains, and it has been left as a memorial to all of those who lost their lives during the war. The black building stands out from the rest of the city and its bells ring for miles as a reminder of the ruins that once surrounded it. A visit to the site is quite powerful and humbling.

My top site while in Hamburg was the concert hall, Elbphilharmonie, which is a beautiful building that seems to moves like the waves. Out of the warehouse bottom the glass errupts into the sky above. I could (and did) look at this single building for hours.

And of course we had plenty of beer, schnitzel, and pretzels!

 

BON VOYAGE!

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As I board the ship today I am looking forward to the future adventures that are going to be had over the next four months. I will be keeping you all updated as often as I can!

Stay tuned…

Amanda

AA

What Life on SAS will Look Like

I’m sure that some of you think I am lying when I say that I am going to be taking classes around the world on a ship for 4 months, so I thought I would make a post about the Semester at Sea program and what I will be doing along the way. Please note that this is just my basic understanding of the program form my own research (mostly from the SAS website) and I’m sure that after my voyage I’ll be better educated on the history as well as the functions of the program.

I will also add a link to the website at the end of this post if you wish to check out Semester at Sea for yourself.

About Semester at Sea

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The program was first thought of by James Edwin Lough who set sail as the first university campus at sea in 1926; it was not until 1963 that the program really took off, partnering with other univerities, finding its current home at Colorado State University in 2016. The idea was to enhance university education by giving students first-hand experience with the world.

Over the years Semester at Sea has travelled on 6 different ships, currently sailing on the MV World Odyssey; a 175m long ship built in 1998.

“[S]hips could transport more than cargo, they could carry ideas.” – C.Y. Tung

Life as a Student

All students on board the ship take 4 classes; I am registered in Introduction to World Music, Abnormal Psychology, Financial Markets and Institutions, and Global Studies (a course that all students are required to take where you learn about where you are in the world, the local culture, and what to expect).

When out at sea we take classes on a bi-daily basis (days A and B) having the odd day off for study days or ship events. The classes are taught by faculty who all have docotorates and are experts in their field. The program is one-of-a-kind and provides students with an education unlike any other. Each professor has picked a day to do a Field Program in one of the ports, where the students apply what they are learning about in their class to the world around them. These Field Programs can be anything from participating in local traditions, to lectures from professionals working and doing research in the country.

When in port, unless you have a Field Program the time is yours to imerse yourself in the local culture. I registered in other Field Programs that are organized by Semester at Sea to help make time in port more structured as I do not know anyone else going. A couple of the programs I registered in are a 2 night Safari in South Africa, a 2 night trip to the Taj Mahal in India, and a 4 night trip to the Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall.

Destinations

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  • Hamburg, Germany – Embark September 9
  • Barcelona, Spain – September 15
  • Valencia, Spain – September 17
  • Tema, Ghana – September 27
  • Takoradi, Ghana – September 29
  • Cape Town, South Africa – October 7
  • Port Louis, Mauritius – October 19
  • Cochin, India – October 25
  • Yagon, Myanmar – November 4
  • Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – November 14
  • Shanghai, China – November 24
  • Kobe, Japan – December 2
  • Honolulu, United States of America – December 16
  • San Diego, United States of America – December 23 End of Voyage

We are at some ports for a matter of hours, and others for up to 6 days.

 

I cannot put into words how excited I am to be able to say that I went around the world in 4 months as it has always been a dream of mine!

 

https://www.semesteratsea.org/

AA