About Me

My photo
I'm just a stressed-out-perfectionist-not-so-average-cupcake-making-graduate-student-from-Kansas trying to find my place in this world.
Current Adventure: Interning for the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C.

Monday, August 30, 2010

And we're off!

I have sea legs. I think. And I figured since I do, I should post to my blog since people might be wondering whether or not I’m alive. I am alive but just barely. Last night we passed through a really bad storm. Everything on my shelves and in my closet ended up on the floor (including me and my roommate). I actually slept pretty well thought it all though. It’s kind of like being rocked to sleep like a baby. ☺

But…onto how I got to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I made my way from Kansas City on Wednesday morning (way too early… before 4am) to Dallas/Fort Worth then to Detroit, finally landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia about ten pm. Fortunately, I found some other Semester at Sea people to ride with to the Hi-Halifax hostel. By the time we arrived at the hostel, it was well past midnight. I was surprised at how clean it was; it was hands down the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at. There were ten girls in my dormitory, all of whom were Semester at Sea work-study students.

I overslept the next morning, rushed through getting ready, skipped breakfast, and caught a $4 cab to the ship terminal with my uber heavy duffel. The check-in process was intense. They ripped open our bag, pulled everything out, smelled every shampoo and conditioner bottle (looking for alcohol), threw out all curling irons/flat irons/hair dryers that didn’t have proof of auto-off attached to them, and then they patted us down. As I was being felt up by this super intense Asian lady, I glanced behind me and there was the Desmond Tutu. THE Desmond Tutu. Just standing there, waiting his turn to be felt up (which they didn’t, by the way). He is so adorable, and he has the most contagious laugh ever. The other night, he told me, “Just call me Arch.”

We picked up our student IDs (which had the picture that we sent into Semster at Sea on them…yeah, my mug shot. great. Just my luck, huh?), unpacked our rooms, and met up in the Student Union at 1pm for a brief meeting. Then, we had the rest of the day to just hang out. I made a new friend, Carren, who is from the Philippines and 32. She is really nice. She took me to the mall so that I could get a better alarm clock since that dinky travel one from Wal-Mart doesn’t have a really loud beeper. Then, I had to help with the parents’ reception, which was so disorganized and chaotic. Fortunately, afterwards, the volunteers got to eat the catered food, which was delicious. 

The next morning, the work-study students had to assist in checking-in the other 650 students. My job was to interview them and their parents as they made their way up the check-in line. It was a lot of fun and really interesting to hear what they all had to say. Lonyae (my work-study buddy) and I headed over to the coffee shop for lunch and to type up our notes. We made a quick dash to the supermarket to grab some snacks before hurrying back to the ship just in time for the on-ship time. If we are late for the on-ship time, then for every fifteen minutes we are late, we receive an hour of dock time at the next port. At four pm, we had a life boat drill, and then finally, at five, we departed.

The moment when the ship actually started moving was very strange for me. I did think for a second, “Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?!” But at the same time I was very excited, anxious, worried, ecstatic…the list goes on. It was indescribable, especially as we got further and further from land. By morning, all I could see was ocean.

The ocean is breathtakingly beautiful. At sunset, all you can see is water shimmering in the light, as a blood-red sun disappears into the horizon. I keep going out on deck just to read, but instead, I end up just sitting and enjoying the fresh ocean air.

I do have bad news, though: the ship’s food is disgusting. It makes TJ food look gourmet. Seriously. I would pay a lot right now just to have a TJ meal rather than this undistinguishable pile of greasy whatnot. Today, the entrĂ©e was bananas covered in raisins, almonds, and honey mustard. Yes, I did mean honey mustard. Sometimes they have this mush of what might have once been vegetables. All I can say is, I’m excited for tapas in Spain. ☺

The ship is freeeezing, but that is just fine by me, because with everyone throwing up all around me, it would be a lot worse if it were stuffy. Fortunately, I haven’t gotten seasick yet; I have been taking my medicine religiously. We’re right in between two hurricanes at the moment, so the ship is moving a lot, which is just more uncomfortable and disorienting than anything else. It really does feel like I’m on a roller coaster—just a roller coaster where I have sleep, eat, shower, go to school, go to work, and just function on. Weird.

The crew is amazing. Everyday they clean your room and make your bed! I feel like I’m living Timothy and Samuel’s dream—a world where you don’t have to make your bed. . . Most of the crew is from the Philippines, and since my friend, Carren, is also from there, we get special treatment.

 Today, we started classes. I’m not actually sure what day of the week it is here. All I know is that it was A1 and that there are no days of the week at sea. I’ve learned that at sea, you just live and let live. No one has cell phones, no one is on the internet much because it is so expensive, and so people just talk or sit outside and enjoy the silence. It’s lovely.
On ‘A Days,’ I have World Regional Geography from 12:15-13:30 and then World Short Story from 14:55-16:10. On ‘B Days’, I have Global Studies from 09:20-10:35, Environmental Studies from 12:15-13:30, and then Servant Leadership from 13:35-14:50.

Right now, my friends Carren, Leah, Amy, and Lonyae and I are planning what to do in Spain. We are thinking that from Cadiz we’ll head to Sevilla for a couple of days, then onto Coroba and then back to Cadiz. But we aren’t entirely sure yet. We might just go with the flow in Spain, since it will be the easiest country to get around in.

I’ll post more later because the ship is starting to rock me to sleep so I need to get up and get moving on homework.
Love you!

“Don’t anyone take away your dreams. You’re young and full of promises and dreams. You inspire me.”
                                                        Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I am testing how to email my posts to my blog.
Unfortunately, internet on the ship is extremely
expensive, so I won't be using it much. However, email is
free...so, I can keep updating my blog! :-)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eight Days and Counting. . .

Eight days from right now I’ll be attempting to sleep in the Hi-Hostel Halifax, which is directly across from the harbor where the MV Explorer will be docked; eight days from right now I’ll be eight hours away from boarding the MV Explorer; and eight days from right now, I’ll be excited. But right now? I’m just scared. After all, it is a pretty big deal to sail around the entire world. I realize that I’m going to see, touch, taste, and experience more than I ever have before and that’s scary and kind of exhausting to think about. But that is, after all, what I wanted. I want my comfort bubble to be popped and to experience everything that the world has to offer. Hopefully you won’t recognize me when I come back . . . I just want my heart to be broken for the world, to find a direction for my life, and to make so many friends in so many countries. It’s just a little unnerving when I start to think about everything that could possibly go wrong. For example, have you thought of pirates? What if they hi-jack our ship? What if the ship capsizes? What if I don’t ever get over my seasickness? What if I run out of money? So many worries…good thing I have a pretty powerful God watching over the whole situation for me. ☺

However, in spite of my roller coaster of emotions, exciting things have been happening at my house. . .

I got my passport back with my visas in it! The red ink fiasco ended just fine! I’m going to post pictures of them. I got one for Ghana, one for China, and one for India. They are so pretty and wonderful. My China visa was even featured in the local newspaper—The Louisburg Journal. I feel like they should have featured the India visa since I went through a lot more to obtain it. You can read the article here.

Semester at Sea announced which trips we were assigned to. A few weeks ago I had to choose all overnight trips and all day-trips for the first three ports. If too many people sign up for a certain trip, then there is a lottery to decide who gets to go. I fortunately, managed to get into all of my trips but one. So, here it goes:

CAD04 Cadiz City Orientation
CAS02 Marrakech & Nomad Camp with Camel Trek
TAK03 Sekondi and Takoradi: Twin City Orientation
TAK14 Castles and Slave Dungeons on the coast of Ghana
CAS18 Service Visit: SOS Children's Village
CAP21 Township Homestay
CAP42 Inverdoorn Game Reserve
CHE24 Taj Mahal & Varanasi
HKG13 Beijing & The Great Wall (4 Days/3 Nights)

I bought all of my toiletries! New toiletries are one of my most favorite things. I will have to ration them carefully though or else I’ll run out before China. I have bought as much non-aerosol bug spray with as much deet as possible as I could possibly buy (well, that’s not true, but I do have six little bottles), a travel alarm clock, a bunch of batteries, and snacks. Apparently, the ship food is disgusting after the first week because they can’t necessarily get a lot of nice, fresh food in every port. So, we eat fifty kinds of potatoes during the trip. I like potatoes though. ☺

I also have another God story. I have been freaking out over this supposed $401 I need to pay in order to get on the ship. I woke up this morning to an email saying that they were giving me a $500 credit to my account, so I still have a $99 credit that I can use to purchase Semester at Sea trips, things in the campus store, do laundry, buy snacks, etc. Whenever I start to worry about something, God just makes it all fit into place. I’m always reminded of Romans 8:28, “All things work together for the good of those who love Him.”

I have had a busy, busy weekend. Saturday from eleven to two, my amazing family and friends all came together to help me with a huge fundraiser at Louisburg Sonic. Thanks to all of them, I raised about $600 for the service portion of my trip. I am eternally grateful to all them—my family, Ashley, Anna, Kylie, Charity, Ashton, Emily, Katee Jo, Bailey, Christine, Pat, David, Kyler, andJay. Between my dad doing balloons and Sophia face painting, we made $140. The rest of my friends (a lot of them are Sophia’s friends—so, thank you, Sister. ☺) acted as volunteer carhops. And the actual carhops that day—Ashley, Anna, and Kylie—donated all of their tips from the entire day, not just from eleven to two—a gesture that made me tear up. Bill and Gina Shaw, from Specialty Sportswear, designed T-shirts for us. They were perfect! Thanks Bill and Gina!

I love these girls! :-)

On Sunday, I spoke briefly at both church services about my upcoming trip. One of the sweetest deacons at our church pressed a one hundred dollar bill and a thin cross into my hand and told me that the money was only to go towards doing something fun and just for me on the trip. That night we had a church-wide backyard barbeque, where I spoke for about twenty-five minutes about my trip, and then a love offering was taken. They even had a cake for me. I love my church family!

My cake!

Then, today, my family celebrated my birthday since I will be in St. Louis this Saturday. I got the cutest luggage tags, a coin purse, a new wallet, annnnd an envelope filled with about $30 for each of the countries I am going to. ☺ Sophia made me the best present though. She took all of the old magnets off of our fridge, covered them in cardstock, and then decorated them. The walls of my room on the ship are metal and tape is prohibited, so we have to hang pictures up with magnets. She wrote me little notes, drew pictures of our family, and wrote out inspirational quotes. I love them so much. Timothy even drew on one for me—it’s a crying flower that says “Il’e miss you!” It made me cry.

Remember when I started practice packing? Yeah, well tonight we started packing. For real. I’m pretty sure that my bags are already overweight, so I’m finding ways to cut down. For example, taking bars of soap rather than big things of body wash. Lame, I know, but you do what you have to in order to make it around the world.

That’s all for now, folks. I will be updating again soon!

“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