Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Class Day

Sorry, loyal followers, but no pics today. First class day, and it was busy but good. I DO know how to provide classroom support to faculty, that's for sure! Guess that's why they hired me. I just have to figure out how to communicate better with the AV crewmember from the Ukraine, Anatoli. SWEET guy, but the language barrier! Sign language? I'm just not sure.

We've had bigger waves today, enough to throw unsecured things like glasses to the floor of our cabins. But I love watching the horizon appear and disappear from the big ring of windows in the Fac/Staff lounge. I also love the rocking feel in bed at night, but it doesn't help me sleep! Hard beds, getting older, and no David, it's a sleepless combination!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Official Day One from Nova Scotia

After some grueling experiences with the work side of this experience having to do with no real training being available and a disorganized work site (my ex-colleague Raoul would be APPALLED), I shrugged it all off this morning to enjoy a picturesque bus ride through Halifax to Point Pleasant Park. Clear blue skies, pleasant temperatures, clean salt waters with beautiful rocky shores - just what my tattered nerves needed. Walking back to the ship later, I found that the rest of the 510 students had been processed and boarded. It's a whole different ship! So now, we're really ready to do this together.
The ship left Halifax at 17:00 (ship-board time) in bright sun and a brisk Canadian wind. As soon as we left, I realized I'd forgotten to buy a mug - there are no cups available on the ship in between meals for coffee or tea! This is part of the "green" campaign, although I think it would make more sense not to wash my sheets every single day. I've smuggled one from the cafeteria now til I can get one of my own.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Class Consciousness

Semester at Sea is a set-up for focusing on contrasts, particularly when it comes to questions of class and privilege. Visiting cities in Africa, India, and Asia would have been different enough from my lower middle class American existance, but ever since stepping on board, I’ve been completely pampered and coddled, just to further the gap. I’m not allowed to carry my own food tray to the table – there’s always an extremely polite, sweet young man from another, invariably poorer, country there to whisk it away from me while I follow obediently behind. And my room is made up not ONCE a day, but TWICE! This picture shows how my bed has been “turned down” for me every evening. Yeesh! Make them stop! I can’t help but wonder how much they’re being paid (I would assume not nearly enough) to leave family and friends behind for months at a time to turn down the beds of spoiled Americans. Do they know this doesn’t happen to us in our normal lives?

Aside from that, our journey continues with good food, bad coffee, and somewhat infrequent laundry service, which may force me to do some dreaded shopping once we land in Halifax (tomorrow). Oh, and I get my four work-study students tomorrow as well. Looks like I’m going to need them!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sailing, sailing, over the ocean blue!

After a night's weary travel on a red-eye flight from Seattle, it woke me right up to actually see the ship for the first time. Quite impressive, if I do say so. As you can see, I managed to pack pretty light for my 3 1/2 month trip - we'll see if I forgot anything crucial. So far, so good.

Only faculty and staff boarded here in Norfolk. Big orientation meeting followed our check-in, and I connected on my own with the "other" on-board media guy, who is from the Ukraine with limited English skills, and has only been on the job for a month and a half! This could be more of a challenge than I thought. However, it really is a whole lot like my last job at Evergreen, with less sophisticated equipment. Today is more general orientation, and it looks like tomorrow is my only "real" day of hands-on training. Luckily for me, the last guy to have this position left a DVD - how considerate is that????

My state-room is great! 5th deck, big window, two beds, desk, bathroom, plenty of storage, mini-fridge. Pictures soon.

Friday, August 21, 2009


So far, with not quite 2 days left, I've just casually been tossing items into my bag - tomorrow I get serious, really! Lisa brought me the perfect travel skirt today - wrinkle free, ankle length, simple, light, cool. Although there's no chance of truly "blending in" with most of the populations we'll be visiting, my goal is not to offend too deeply, if I can help it. So, relative modesty, which honestly suits me fine.

I had a travel consultation with the Thurston County Health Dept. nurse a couple of days ago, which does make me feel a bit more prepared. Ended up with Hep-A shot in one arm, Typhus in the other, and both too sore to sleep on for one night. But peace of mind! And I go armed with malaria and dysentery medicine. On my friend Zena's recommendation, I also picked up grapefruit seed extract to help with my touchy intestinal system. Hard to enjoy traveling when you don't feel good, as my sister-in-law, Kwan Sook and I discovered some years ago in Thailand.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

3 days left

The most interesting thing about the Renton SAS get-together was the number of folks who have gone on more than one voyage - virtually all attending that reunion have. Hmmm..... there must be some experience there worth repeating, don't you think? However, a couple of women there managed to scare me a bit by saying that media techs had to stay on board in port (to repair equipment and such). BUT, I was told specifically that I was not "on duty" in port, so I have to assume that things have changed. Guess I'll find out! Apparently, the key word on the ship is flexibility.

I like to think I'm flexible.

Friday, August 14, 2009

10 days to go!

With extra pages in my passport for all those entry/exit stamps and visas for China, India, and Ghana (which cost a whopping $450 through a processing service recommended by the ISE folks), seems like I'm good to go. Oh, right, I've still got to pack! So, packing for a 3-month trip around the world, just where do you start? I'm wondering in particular about things like gifts to host families, small things to give to children in the poorer countries we'll be visiting (I read pens might be good) - any suggestions?

Tomorrow is a get-together in Renton for Semester at Sea folks, both past and current, so I should be able to get some ideas there. I'll be getting on the ship in Norfolk, VA on Aug. 24th, training for my new position while we're "under sail" to Nova Scotia, where the students will embark on the 28th. I'm very excited, but not feeling frantic or particularly stressed about it all (though you might get a different story from David!).