Somewhere in the Pacific

The seas were a little rough yesterday. Making it hard for some to keep their stomachs under control. And the rest of us were getting pretty close to that point as well. Luckily, today has been pretty tame.

Classes have gotten off to a good start. I am taking Core which is a geography/cross-discipline course for the entire shipboard community – students, professors, adult passengers, and all. We cover the cultures, geography, political climate, economy, and other useful information about each country we will be visiting. A different professor gives the lecture each day in his/her area of expertise, which not only helps us get the best info from the most knowledgeable on the subject but it also offers a good variety of perspectives and voices on each country. My next class is Religious Ethics. Here we will be approaching various prominant social issues from the points of view of each of the multiple religions of each port. I am also taking a class that focuses on the arts of Asia – and will also touch on some Islamic art to fill the class time post-India. Finally, I am taking a class about nationalism. We will be in search of what that concept means for individuals of each country we visit. There is a lot of reading to be done, but no more than I’ve been accustomed to in years past. A large part of our coursework is done through journals and papers that are focused on our personal observations and interactions with the cultures, locations, and people we meet along the way. There really is no better way to do it.

Activities have begun as well. As of right now there have only been the preliminary meetings to see what interest there is and to provide an overview of the groups. I’m going to be working with the onboard website and, to some degree, with the religious/spiritual commuity. I’ll be finding out later in the week what role I’ll be playing with the website. I’m the lead photographer so be sure to check that site through www.semesteratsea.com as well. Also later this week we will be given our teams for the Vicarious Voyage program. This program will match us up with an elementary or high school class (in either NY or MA in my case) and we will periodically mail them pictures, letters, discriptions of the countries, menus and other objects with foreign writing, and other educational items so they can follow along with us and learn from what is beyond the textbook. Depending on where the school is, I may get the opportunity to visit and give a presentation once I return.

Aside from classes and organized groups, there is a lot to do onboard. Certainly happy hour at the end of the class day is popular. In the evenings there are generally movies playing in the theater or on our closed-circuit tv’s in our cabins. The selection isn’t great but we generally see films either with a theme or setting in the next port or one produced in those countries. Though, there have been exceptions. The Union which is basically the central meeting place on the ship and the location of our Core class is always full of people doing pretty much everything from playing cards to playing music to studying to just hanging out or passing through to something else. One of my favorite spots is the port side sitting area on the Promenade Deck (that’s the left side when looking at the front, or bow).It’s generally pretty quiet and you can sit and watch the water and listen to the waves for hours. I can’t get enough of it!

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