About Me

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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 entrée 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


  1. Yeah for sea legs!! It sounds like you are having alot of new experiences. Sorry about the food. Love the image of watching the sun slip into the sea each night, and no cell phones... that has to be heaven on earth.
    We love you,

  2. Hi Emma -

    We enjoyed hearing about the beginning of your long journey! Dalton would like to know how far it is from Halifax to your first stop in Spain!?

    Your mom stopped by yesterday and brought us some pictures of you and Chester getting on the ship. You both looked very happy!

    We are worried about Chester. Did he fall out of bed during the storm? If so, is he ok?

    We hope you have a good time in Spain! How long will you be there?

    We hope to hear from you soon!

    Mrs. Howard's Level II class

  3. Hi everyone!

    To answer Dalton's question, it took 7 days to get from Halifax to Spain. It was a long time.

    Chester loves the ship! Everyone is very nice to him. :-) He did not fall out of bed during the storm, so he is doing OK!

    I am in Spain right now. Chester and I have been here for 3 days already and we still have 3 days left. Today, we are going on a long bus ride from Cadiz, Spain to Granada, Spain. Yesterday, Chester got to go to the beach!

    We're sending you a postcard from Spain. You should get it in a couple weeks!

    Emma and Chester