floating outside antwerp

Well we are just now settling into port in Antwerp, Belgium… quite a bit earlier than anticipated. Our original arrival time was tomorrow at 8:00, but was moved to 23:00 today due to traffic or tides or some sea-related stuff I don’t really understand! It’s a bit taunting because we’re all sitting here looking out on the lights of the city but we aren’t allowed to disembark until morning when customs has cleared us and we’ve had our diplomatic briefing. Ah well, I’ll survive – I need to catch up on sleep and might get ahead on schoolwork, as we’re going to be quite busy while we’re here!

We’re planning to leave for Amsterdam tomorrow and spend two nights at a hostel there and we’ve got loads planned already for our stay (no worries mum, we didn’t overplan). Then we’ll still have a day in Antwerp after we get back, during which I may visit the medieval town of Ghent as well.

Shiplife is getting better, maybe. I’m meeting more people bit by bit and my teachers seem to be tuning into some of the social cliques, and how to encourage students to branch outside of them. Overall, it’s been a busy couple of days… I had a midterm yesterday, another midterm today, and a paper due today – maybe it’s good that I’m already used to the fast pace of the quarter system! Everyone has been in a panic all day because we had a really brutal Global Perspectives exam this morning, plus they apparently did some “random” drug testing today (one guy tested positive, I believe. I’m not rightly sure what they do about that!)

A highlight of my day was going on a bridge tour, where I got to see all of the fancy navigational equipment and setup – it was so impressive! We had the 2nd officer, Ricardo, explain a lot of the engineering features of the ship like our water supply (all comes from the ocean), how we propel all this weight, etc. It was also funny to hear about ship-to-ship communication over the radio. Apparently they always attempt first to communicate in English, but sometimes it doesn’t work out because of accents (or inability to speak English), so they have to find creative ways of conveying information. I also asked about all the noise from the ship’s horn that I heard a week or so ago in the morning during classes, and the officer said “Oh that was just greetings between ships!” Some loud and longwinded greetings, indeed! Overall it was impressive to see all the buttons, nautical maps, and electronic equipment – plus they had giant windshield wipers on the front windows of the ship that were awesome (although Ricardo told us they are very inefficient and not often needed).

Other than that, the past couple of days have been full of alternating class and meetings, though at least logistical preport was entertaining tonight. To start, our executive dean, Les, got up and started talking about how bad it smelled today when he was outside on the side of the ship. He asked everyone what on earth the smell was and some student shouts out “POOP!” So he goes on to talk about how he walked to the other side of the ship and it smelled fine and “how come one side of the ocean smells fine and the other one smells like poop?!” Finally, he said that a crew member told him (upon inquiry) that another ship came up close to us and basically pooped indeed, dropping some sort of stinky load I suppose.

After preport Amy and I proceeded to raid the campus store, since there was rumor that they are running low on hoodies/t-shirts and “there is no helicopter coming to resupply the store”. It was depressing because up until tonight we’ve both had credit in our shipboard accounts from trips we tried to get on that were full already… and now we’re going to actually have to start paying bills (like the rest of the student body has been!)

So finally we are relaxing, watching Bridget Jones’ Diary (the second one). It’s a treat because although there are often movies on, they are often very strange, outdated, class-related, or aimed very much at kids (we love some of the childrens movies, but not Barney and Barbie!) I love approaching port because there is no homework due the next day, no class to wake up for… so I’m going to go pass out, because even without class we do have to get up for our diplomatic briefing bright and early!

the bridge in all its glory

emergency light system

jumbo windshield wipers!

flags for every country

crazy nautical navigational maps


Post a Comment

<< Home