Monday, January 19, 2009

A Tight Ship

Some people think I am going around the world on a pleasure cruise. Au contraire! It's definitely been a lot of work, especially today. We boarded 725 some students in a span of about 5 hours this morning. I felt much like my best friend from high school (JoAnn) who is a flight attendant. Putting on my best face, standing at the top of the stairs on my deck and cheerfully greeting each student "Welcome aboard!"

At 1400 we had a lifeboat drill. I am the designated person to call out the names at my Muster Station. Imagine the voices of 725 anxious and excited college students in bright orange life vests, meeting new friends for the first time. Imagine them all talking at once. Imagine them all squished onto one deck of the ship. Now imagine me trying to shout out everyone's name and highlight them on a big maaster list. I have about 90 people at my Muster Station. The crew was very helpful in screaming out the names with me, but I have a feeling I'm not going to have much of a voice after this! Fortunately the Captain runs a tight ship (good lord, there are so many nautical puns here) and quieted them down quickly. He is also quite strict about attire. Everyone has to be dressed in long sleeves, long pants, close-toed shoes, and a hat or head-cover along with the orange life-vests. Unfortunately we are not allowed to take cameras with us when we have these drills, because it is a very serious procedure and there is to be no horseplay. The Captain means business. Above and below are pictures of the "Bridge". During faculty/staff orientation we got a tour. It is very high-tech and I am certain that our navigations system is top of the mark.

So we got through the life boat drill and one hour later we sailed off into the sunset. It was nostalgic and students were waving tearful goodbyes to their parents as they stood on the dock and held up signs for their students. I was glad I wore my sunglasses, just in case I cried. Ray Ban should seriously consider being an official sponsor of Semester At Sea. Here are all the parents waving goodbye:

But I had already said goodbye to my parents and my grandma yesterday, who had flown down and met up with me in Nassau for a few short hours. They did get to come on board and see my cabin and see parts of the ship. We didn't cry as we parted ways, but I'll miss them. The funny thing is- I don't see them all that often as it is, so I don't know why this voyage is any different. If I were in NYC still, I probably would go the same span of time without seeing them. I guess this is more emotional since I'm sailing literally around the whole world. Here is Me, my Ma, My Grandma, and My Dad at their hotel in Nassau. (Yes, I did get off the ship to stretch my legs for a bit yesterday and today.)

I'm kinda tired now after the past several busy days.

Oh but wait...I can't be tired just now- I'm not done working yet. We still are holding a big group orientation and then an individual "sea meeting". Each section of each deck is divided into a sea and mine is known as the Yellow Sea.

And now we cross the Atlantic. Before I left I started reading "Angela's Ashes" and I am thinking about how long and how choppy the voyage trans-Atlantic was for her family. Fortunately it wil only take us 8 days and the ship should not be so wobbly. (Although, I must admit two nights ago as we sailed from our anchoring outside of Miami to Nassau, I was feeling a bit dizzy!)

I got the report from Dara back in NYC who is taking good care of my cat, Isaac (mostly known as "Kitty") Looks like he is doing well, wouldn't you say? I like to call Dara's house Disney World for Kitty. He might as well be on a four month pleasure cruise. Either that or he's dead. But I think he's just sleeping. He lies like that from time-to-time. And often times, he's right in the middle of the bed, like-so and he gets distraught when I shift positions. He's content sleeping, eating, and playing with his gray mouse for most of the day. And you guys are envious of MY life?

I guess I understand. It is pretty amazing here. I actually love meeting students, and I was reminded of my days working in Residential Life when students would check in. There were always lots of questions and lots of excitement and I enjoyed being a resource for them, as I was today. I also found out that I will be supervising 8 Work-Study students and I am pretty excited about that too. I haven't supervised students for a couple years now. My role is more private at my "land job" and because of confidentiality in my position I do not have student assistants.

So in addition to the academic atmosphere, there is an excitement and buzz about the ports of call. In eight days we will be in Cadiz (pronounced "Cadeeth") Spain.

There are mirrors throughout the entire ship. The sun spread its last few ribbons of daylight across the water. And I reflected on my voyage: how I got here, where I'll go, and what I'll learn. And off we sailed with the sunset at our helm.


Mendy said...

Aww, lookit Isaac. haha. Looks like he's doing just fine. :)

Sounds like you really are in for quite an adventure. They're lucky to have you aboard.

Have fun and stay safe, you. xoxo

Dara said...

Let it be known, that my papers that Isaac is laying on were neat and in order before he set up shop there...