...independence day...

The sun is just now setting over the unusually calm waters… it’s quite late at night but only the second sunset we’ve seen since Iceland (somehow I got used to it being light out all night). It has been such a weird day that has felt surreal up to this point of me putting it in words.

All of the students on the ship had our first Global Perspectives exam today, so everyone was up last night in all parts of the ship trying to cram and study. Meanwhile, Amy and I were calm until about midnight when we realized that we didn’t know where the hell Malta was, let alone that it was part of the European Union. Sooo we got on top of that, which was quite interesting finally figuring out exactly where all the teeny countries are and who governed them. (Did you know Luxembourg’s capital is also called Luxembourg? I think that’s cheating on their part!) So this morning we all split up into different classrooms for the exam which I dare say we overstudied for (though I would hardly say we spent much time studying, especially compared to everyone else). But of course there were a lot of curveball questions, so I’m not sure - we’ll see how I do.

Following the exam, classes went on as they normally do (not that going to class on a boat is normal, of course). I made another familiar visit to the health clinic because I’ve still been feeling unwell, and found out there is still some sort of infection hanging out in my body… not the best news, but they put me on Cipro and I should think would kill anything that the past month and a half of antibiotics hasn’t yet!

Because it is the 4th of July, the crew was serving dinner as a barbeque out on the seventh deck by the pool (which as of today has been filled with water)! It was really cute because they had decorated the ship for us and all the kids were running around with their faces painted… plus the food was a feast! The ship food has been good, but it’s pretty much variations on the same thing day after day. Today, however, there were pork ribs, grilled chicken, piles of fresh fruit, and even a dessert buffet. The only drawback was that the put the pig heads on the buffet tables, nicely garnished right next to the rest of the food… made me feel like I was at a Viking feast like we’ve been talking about in class. It also strikes me as a bit funny how we were throwing a bash to celebrate our nation’s independence from Europe… as we are sailing through it.

So now we are two days from Russia, which means that tonight we had to have cultural pre-port, an all-ship meeting in the union where we talk about what to expect culturally. It was pretty amusing as usual, with an interport Russian professor and two interport Russian students… then in the middle of the meeting, there was an announcement regarding a “code blue” (medical emergency – we could only tell because the entire medical staff ran out). Despite the brief interruption, the meeting concluded normally…

Everyone went back to their cabins and a lot of people were getting ready for the 4th of July dance that was in the union right after pre-port (one of the few instances in which alcohol is served aboard the ship – though the lines to buy drink tickets are too long to bother with). Amy and I were just hanging out in our cabin studying and such when there was another announcement calling an immediate meeting, regarding the medical emergency, in the union (where the dance was being held) which everyone had to attend. Everyone gathered there remarkably fast and the mood of the entire room was eerie. Some students were sill dressed up from the dance, sitting and sipping drinks while the rest of us nervously found seats. As soon as the medical staff (joined by some of the crew officers) walked to the front of the room, it became absolutely silent. It remained that way for quite awhile until one of the deans approached the podium and began to speak. He shared with us that the captain had suffered a massive heart attack, and though the medical team spent substantial amounts of time trying to revive him, he passed away… I don’t think any of us could have been prepared for that; it was completely unexpected. They assured us that another officer is taking over who is very qualified, that our safety is in no danger, and that all services will resume normally… though I just can’t get past the shock of losing our captain. The shipboard community has been really somber with students, faculty, staff, and families comforting each other all over the ship. But I really feel for his crew, who was very close to him and have sailed with him for years. Furthermore, I can’t imagine how hard it will be for his family – my thoughts are definitely with them.

It’s quite surreal to reflect upon just how much has happened on this independence day.

who knew our crew was so crafty with melon?

impromptu drum circle

zoom zoom zoom!

very fancy looking tower of fruit

elaborate and delicious buffet

our lovely staff at the pool bistro

all the flags are up and the pool is filled!



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