Mexico . Hawaii . Japan . China . Hong Kong . Vietnam . Cambodia . Thailand . India . Egypt . Turkey . Croatia . Spain . Florida

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

MV Explorer

MV Explorer
Join me as I go around the world in 100 days aboard this ship!

Friday, September 7, 2007

All Aboard the MV Explorer

Hello, my wonderful blog readers. I am very sorry, once again, that it took me so long to write. I’m sure you’ve all been patiently waiting to hear about life aboard the giant floating university. I have a really hard time getting myself to write in my journal—I keep procrastinating. I always tell myself I will write at the end of the day before I go to bed, but the minute I get back to my room, I end up passing out because I’m so exhausted. The rocking of the ship makes me really sleepy, and I guess I am constantly using all these muscles that I never use in order to keep myself balanced, which makes me even more tired.

Well, let me try to give you a brief recap of my first couple days on the ship and the days leading up to it. I flew out to San Diego from New York on August 23rd and stayed at the Sheraton, the official hotel for Semester at Sea, for two nights. We had dinner at a really nice restaurant in downtown La Jolla named Jack’s and visited some fun places, including the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and Hotel del Coronado.

Before long, the moment for which I’d been anxiously waiting had finally arrived. It was time to embark the ship. I was filled with excitement and anticipation. I had a lot of mixed emotions since I wasn’t sure about the type of people that I would encounter on the ship. I was concerned about whether or not I would be able to make a lot of friends and was feeling a little bit apprehensive. I was sad to be leaving some people behind, even though I’m not the type to get homesick. I have a hard time saying goodbye to people and places, whether they are familiar or not. As a little kid, no matter where I went, I never wanted to leave. We could be at a friend’s house for dinner, and I wouldn’t want to say goodbye to my friend and go home. I would get really sad and ask if I could stay the night there. I don’t know where I get that from. Maybe I have attachment issues from my childhood? That is the psychology major in me coming out, trying to analyze myself. Hey, at least I acknowledge it. Most people would never admit it and put themselves out there like that.

Anyway, to my surprise, once I boarded the ship, I was pleased to find out that most of the people were really nice and not high-strung or stuck up as I thought they might be. Only the work study students were on the ship for the first two days, so we developed a bond and got to know each other before everyone else came onto the ship. I felt as though I could really get along with most of the work study students. It was a pretty diverse group of people, but we had a lot in common with each other, especially financial need. For that reason, I felt I could relate to them.

On the first day we had an introductory meeting, and that was about it. We found out that over 250 students had applied for work study, but only 25 students were selected. We were a very lucky bunch, to say the least. On the second day, we got our job assignments and had to prepare for the next day when all the students would arrive. I got my job assignment, which is in the IT department, aka the Geek Squad, with five other people. My job is to help people get connected to the wireless internet and help them configure their computers to the public network and printers. Unfortunately though, we don’t get free unlimited internet access, even as a worker. We all get 250 free minutes for the entire voyage, and once those are gone, we have to buy additional minutes for $0.40 a minute, which is very expensive. Thus, I have decided to type my blog on Microsoft Word, save it onto a flash drive, and then upload it online at a cyber café in the port cities. It is much more economical that way. Just bear in mind, the date the blog is posted is not the same date that I am writing the blog. Anyway, I really like my job assignment because I’m a big computer geek. We have one of the most laid back jobs, as well; we only have to work three hours a day in the computer lab, and we can work on homework, write in our blogs, or anything else we feel like doing.

During one of our meetings, we found out that one of the Lifelong Learners on our voyage, a 91-year-old former Navy chief, decided to give each of the 25 work study students a $500 scholarship that would be credited to our shipboard accounts. We could use it for whatever we wanted, shipboard expenses, spending money in ports, anything. This was such great news to hear—I couldn’t believe someone would be that generous to donate $12,500 to us out of his pocket. We had a private dinner with him later on in the week to meet and thank him in person.

Finally, we departed San Diego on the night of August 25th and set off for Ensenada, Mexico, where all the students would take shuttles and meet the ship the next morning. I had to work in the gangway, directing the students where to go. I had the best job for arrival day because I was the first face the students would see when they walked aboard the ship for the first time; it was up to me to leave a good, lasting first impression.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,

You don't know me but I came across your blog while searching for pictures from my voyage 3 years ago (spring '05)...yes, we were the Storm and "the wave" semester! I just wanted to say thank you for posted your blog and brought a smile to my face. There are a million things I could tell you about your voyage, but let me just say this: you are going to meet life long friends. You are going to come back a different woman. You are going to have a new appreciation for the world. You are going to be so grateful that years down the road you are going to relate the littlest of stories to your experience with Semester At Sea. It completely changed my life, and I am a better person because of everything I experienced on that damn ship--the good and bad! So enjoy, soak up every moment, do things you would never do, and continue to log down every memory you make because this is what you are going to look back on once these 100 days are through!
best of luck from a fellow SASer, Blythe S05