Life at sea is honestly unlike anything I could have expected. In my first few days on the MV Explorer, I learned that there was going to be much to get used to in these next four months.
This was my first time on a cruise ship and I must say that the excessive amount of warnings that I received this past summer about preparing for motion and sea sickness were extremely useful. I was completely shocked at how much the ship rocked when we left the port of Southampton. It became a regular occurrence in those first few days at sea that I, as well as most other students, would lose balance, lean into walls, and be completely unable to walk in a straight line. It was actually quite humorous staggering down the halls on each deck and seeing just how unsteady we all were. Although I did not get sick, the motion of the ocean did not take it easy on my stomach either. The only reason I have for avoiding such agonizing illness was the preparedness of my mother, who bought me a full supply of Dramamine and Sea Bands to wear onboard. (Thanks Mom!)
At orientation, we learned all the ins and outs of the ship and were introduced to the faculty, staff, and some crew members. Although I refer to the ship as a “floating campus” there are so many extra rules, lifestyle habits, and miscellaneous details that make life on the MV Explorer significantly unlike living on campus at Pace University. One example of this is the food and meal times. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time are all served in a specific time slot. This is entirely different from Pace where I can get food at almost any time of the day based on when I’m hungry. On the ship, it’s best to be hungry when food is served because if you miss a mealtime then you’re either not eating or you can charge your shipboard account for whatever you select to munch on at the snack bar. To be honest, the food on the ship isn’t that great, (one can only be excited to eat a meal of salad, pasta, potatoes, and fish or mystery meat so many times) but at least that makes the ethnic food that we eat in port taste that much better!
Alternatively, there are some obvious variations between campuses that make all the difference. For example, the view from any of the windows or outside decks is something that I will probably never get used to. Who else can say that they watch other ships sail by, schools of jellyfish swim through the water or the peaceful movement of the Atlantic Ocean’s waves as they sit in class? Also, there aren’t any beach chairs to study on at Pace that come complete with the sea breeze and warming sunshine.
Additionally, I’m in love with all of my classes. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’m taking Global Music, Gender and Society, International Marketing and Journalism History and Ethics. I’ve had my share of amazing, awful, unfair, and straight up boring teachers in the past, but I sincerely think that the teachers on this ship are absolutely fantastic and have an extreme passion for the subject content that they are teaching. The enthusiasm that my teachers have makes it that much easier to pay attention and be engaged in what we’re learning. I’m also thankful that I’m taking the classes that I am while traveling because they’re helping me to observe more than usual while in port. For instance, in my Gender and Society class we have to write a number of port observations where we analyze gender roles in the countries that we are visiting. This assignment requires me to pay more attention to human interaction, portrayal of men and women in the media, the values held by the people, etc. Therefore, Semester at Sea is truly bringing everything full circle for me which only makes this experience that much worthwhile.
Nevertheless, the best difference of all is that I’m not in the state of New York as I have been for every other college semester I’ve had so far. I’m STUDYING ABROAD! (I hope that you can feel as much exhilaration in that statement as I do in writing it.) Traveling is one of my passions, which is why this voyage unquestionably means the world to me. (pun intended)