“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Mark Twain

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hilo, HI day 1

We arrived in Hilo, HI on Monday morning around 5:30am and I was awoken to an announcement over the ships PA system. This was my wake up call to then proceed to knock on all of my residents’ doors and then head up to start the debarkation process. Since we arrived from Mexico we had to have customs agents check the passports. After I reported to duty we called the students up by their seas (so for example the 75 students that are on my ‘floor’ are part of the Mediterranean Sea. So when we arrive to each of our ports everyone will need to clear customs before anyone can get off of the ship and this is what we got to experience very early!!

After all was cleared I left the ship with a few people and we headed to downtown Hilo. It was quite nice to be off the ship and after spending some time getting my sea legs it was now time to find my land legs again. We walked about the 2 miles downtown, stopped in a Natural food store and ended our walk at a Coffee, tea and Kava bar. Kava is a natural relaxant which I originally tasted when I was in Fiji. “Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity “(Wikipedia). It is illegal in some countries and very hard to find in the US but apparently found in Hilo, HI. We were all given samples, drank our coffee and then went on our way. We took a taxi back to the ship and low and behold a UMass student of mine, who I forgot was studying for the semester at the University of Hawai'i Hilo was taking a tour of our ship, so we got to see each other for about 5 minutes before she headed on her way , but it was nice to see a familiar face. 

I will say that it took a while to realize that we were in Hawai’i. This part of the Big Island is not what I typically think of when I think of Hawai’i.  It was much less tropical then I anticipated. Cindy rented a car which made it really easy to get around and I took on the role of driver for our 2 days in Hilo. Midhun, Emily, Debbie, Cindy and I were on our adventure around Hilo; first stop Akaka Falls (now I am seeing tropics!). I thought it would be something we would be able to venture into but it ended up being only something we could view from afar. It was quite beautiful though and we took a nice walk around. I kept commenting that it was like we were in a Botanical Garden without anything labeled because there were so many different types of plants as we walked around to see the falls.

After the falls we headed to Volcano National Park where we saw large craters of steaming hot magma. Ok maybe it wasn’t magma but it was dangerous sulphur dioxide gas and if the wind had been blowing in a different direction we would not have been allowed where we were. It is really hard to put into words and the pictures do not do justice to what we saw. There was Vog(volcano fog) in the distance which is what we saw on the drive to the Park as well.

The evening ended at a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant though when we found the restaurant on someone’s iphone it said it was Korean and we figured since we were visiting neither North nor South Korea then Korean food would be great. Since we were quite hungry by the time we reached there we decided to stay the food was disappointing yet decent though there were many overtired laughs had!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life on the Ship

What we were spending time preparing for final happened! The students arrived and were soooo excited to be here. The day they arrived is the day we headed on our way to Hawaii. They started their evening with an Orientation meeting and though we (Student Life Staff) were all supposed to be there we spent a good portion of the meeting running water, crackers and vomit bags to students who were gettng very sick. With in the matter of an hour I witnessed at least 10 students heading to the bathroom (some not making it) to be sick. Needless to say there were quite a few students who were questioning their motives for comng. We tried to reassure them that 10 years from now they would not remember there first night of vomiting but all of the great memories to come. I am not sure everyone bought it! Especially since Thursday night was probably the worst seas I have experienced. I am pretty sure no one slept more then a couple hours total. Things were falling all around me, drawers were slamming all night, my chair flew across the room a couple of times and though I had felt quezzy a couple of times this was the 1st time I really thought I was going to get sick. I did not, thank goodness!!! After getting through that night the seas have certainly started to calm down.
Here is a picture of the rough seas from my window:

Things move at warp speed on the ship a day is like a week. So the students have been on the ship for one week today, we have had an involvement fair which resulted in about a dozen new organizations and I have already met with my programming board who has produced 2 amazing programs. We had speed meeting where about 150 students showed up to really participate in one large ice breaker. (For those of you who are my higher ed friends you should feel a little envious now) Everything is cool here, it is kind of amazing, on a land campus trying to get students to come to a program like this (even freshman) would be challenging but there is this want to connect that is felt throughout the community. Last night we had our first Coffee House program and again about 150 students showed up...there is so much talent on this ship!!! Let me also note that both of these programs happened at the same time that alcohol service began and the drinking age is 18 on the ship!

So far it has been some sort of idealistic campus life environment, everyone (with the exception of a small handful) is respectful, participatory and really wants to be here. We still have not arrived to our first destination and I am having a wonderful time. I am working pretty hard but I think I would rather be working hard here then anywhere else.  Cindy (my supervisor and friend) says that your worst day on the ship is better then your best day at land.  I am not sure that I am total agreement yet, but I am coming close!

We arrive to Hilo, Hawai'i tomorrow and I am pretty planless.  I think some of us will go to Volcano National Park and also try to hit up a Target to to pick up some things that we all realized that we forgot.  For example I never realized how dependent I was on Fabreeze!

OK so I was able to add a few pictures to my previous entry.  At some point I will add a photo albulm but that may take some time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This ship is in Mexico! (Well it was anyway)

I never had a chance to post this when we were in Ensenada, so pretend it was a few days ago:
Here is what we saw from the ship:

It was good to have few days to relax before heading to the ship because since we have arrived we have been training and meeting each other.  I did decide that this environment could quite possibly be an introverts nightmare.  Even me being the extreme extrvert that I am needs to take a time out every now and then to reharge.  When I arrived on the ship I settled in but could not do any unpacking until the evening because it took sometime for my luggage to make it to my room.  So I took the time between getting on the ship and starting our evening familiarizing myself with the ship and getting to meet some of the other saff and faculty.  We started our time together with a meeting where everyone was introduced.  Thank goodness for nametags because I retained almost nothing.  After that we had a welcome recption where everyone got to mix and mingle.  The Student Life staff ended the meeting with a meeting that of course consisted of an ice breaker!  This meeting was a great opportunity for us to start to get to know each other.  It seems like we are really going to be a great staff.

Though the ride was pretty choppy I did not really experience motion sickness on our way to Mexico but that may because I was wearing a patch that is supposed to help.  Today, Thursday consisted of more training and activities that have allowed me to meet some more new people.  And though the day was long it really did seem to fly by quickly.   I also very quickly realized that faculty and staff are really made to be equals on this ship.  We all have our roles but are also all seen as experts in what we do.

I had an opportunity to get off the ship this evening for dinner (Thursday), so I did with about 7 other people and we ate divey tacos which were wonderful and polished off a peach margarita.  We walked around a little bit then headed back to the ship for our 8pm meeting!

Friday evening the entire Student Life staff and their families headed out to dinner together in Ensenada and we took over the restaurant!  It was nice to take some time together before the students arrive!
Fresh tortillas being made:

Here is what the sunset looked like the night we left Ensenada, I think it is a good sign!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stay Classy San Diego

I can certainly retire in San Diego; what a great city!!!  When I arrived on Monday night we headed out to a great dinner at C level overlooking the San Diego Harbor to celebrate my first night in San Diego and DJ's birthday.  I of course ate fish tacos because I think that is what you have to do your first night in San Diego.

I woke up at 6am Tuesday even though I stayed up late enough to help my body adjust to the west coast.  Brian and I had coffee at home and then headed out for our day of touring.  We started with a great brunch at the Brockton Villa Restaurant overlooking the La Jolla Cove where I experienced the most delicious French Toast (Coast Toast as they called it) I have ever eaten. I am pretty sure it was soaked in a vat of custard before being pan-fried - amazing!!! After we ate we walked around and got to see the seals basking in the sun...ahh to be a seal in San Diego! 

Then we were on our way to Coronado taking the scenic route of course, driving through different communities and ohhing and ahhing at the houses we passed by!  As we crossed the bridge to Coronado there was a sign for a suicide hotline; sadly I think this means the rate of suicide on this bridge is high.  I will tell you that this sparked many conversations throughout the day as we paid close attention to all of the bridges we crossed.  We went to the famous Del Coronado Hotel.  This is where the Wizard of Oz was written; though there were many interesting facts about the hotel shared this is the most exciting fact that I retained.  Brian and I enjoyed an adult beverage together on the deck of the hotel as we basked in the sun...ahh to be a seal in San Diego!!! 

Here is a pic of Brian and I on the beach in Coronado:

Then it was off to pinkberry.  If you have not experienced the pinkberry phenomenon I would encourage you to get to your nearest city and try some.  It is fat free deliciousness!!! Next stop - Balboa Park this is where many of San Diego's finest museums are.  We decided to just walk around the grounds and enjoy the beautiful day instead of venturing in to the museums which was OK by me.  I have a feeling there will be some museums in my near future.  Note: the Balboa this park refers to is the explorer not Rocky Balboa though I did spent our time there searching for a Rocky Balboa statue (much to Brian's dismay).

We returned home and did some research on Taco Shops.  The requirement was good but cheap!  And we found this at El Cuervo Taco Shop in Hillside.  We ended our evening at Extraordinary desserts..this was an appropriate name!! I had the Blood Orange Ricotta Torte which I finished this morning for breakfast!

I hope that I do not lose my momentum to blog as the semester goes on and I hope that those who decide to follow do not get bored with my rambling.  I will report for duty in a few hours and get to meet the other faculty and staff who I will be spending the next few months with...very exciting!!  We set sail tonight for Ensenada, Mexico where we will spend a few days training until the students arrive on January 17.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Lao-tzu

I am sitting in the Bradley Airport in Hartford, CT and am waiting to start my travels west.  What is great is that I am hanging out with my friend Shiloh who visited for the weekend and is on the first leg of my flight with me!!  I can not believe that after talking about this experience for many months today is the day it all begins.  It has been a week full of mixed emotions.  Saying goodbyes which are really see you laters and also trying to wrap my head around what I am about to experience.  I am so grateful for all of the people in my life who have been so supportive in my decision to leave my little piece of the world to take on the entire world!!!

Tonight I will arrive in San Diego and get to spend some time with friends, Brian and DJ, who I have not seen for many years.  I am excited to be able to catch up on the last 10 years and also get to see San Diego (a city I have not been to yet).   California Here I Come!!!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Get ready cause here I come!!!!

I have decided to try out this thing they call a blog. That way if you would like to follow my Semester at Sea voyage you can subscribe to or bookmark this site and look at your leisure and I will not clutter your email. Also then I can put pics on here.

On Monday, January 11, I start my adventure in San Diego, CA. I will be staying a couple of nights with an old friend and then will go to the ship for faculty and staff training on Wednesday. The role I will be serving in is a Living-Learning Coordinator for Student Activities and Recreational Sports as part of the Student Life Team. I am getting very excited and also am a little anxious but that is to be expected!

To view the Spring 2010 itinerary on the Semester at Sea site just go here: http://www.semesteratsea.org/voyages/spring-2010/spring-2010-intinerary/calendar.php

This will be my home for 109 days; the MV Explorer: