a few final thoughts

It’s my last night on the ship… there’s a dance-turned-toga-party happening two decks above us in the union, but I’m not there and that’s okay with me. While everyone else is energetically storming the halls of the ship and running amuck everytime we catch a glimpse of land (we’re passing the Bahamas at the moment), I just need time to myself. Thinking about earlier today, my last day here, part of me feels stupid for reading and napping most of the day away, but then again, coming home is a lot to process!

People are saying all kinds of things about this voyage… some people are claiming it’s the highpoint of their lives (a bit sad, if you ask me, to cap it at this) while others are labeling it merely a glorified shopping expedition. I guess I fall in between, as probably most people on the ship do. Some of the final words we’ve heard from shipboard community members have been quite dramatic about this whole Semester at Sea “voyage of discovery” theme, and sometimes I get sick of hearing it. But I also don’t feel like this was, by any means, just a cruise or vacation for me.

My classes weren’t as hard or enriching as they tend to be at my home uni (except for global perspectives which I did love), but this is still a truly unique experience regardless – and we are all really fortunate to be able to be a part of it. In every country we’ve visited, people have been awed by the wild concept of the program and wish they had such a thing where they live. Meeting these sorts of people reminded me not to take this experience for granted, as some students seem to (especially those whose parents have been funding their shopping expeditions).

I’ve been away from home for about as long as I am during the school year (a quarter/ten weeks at a time). But somehow this is different. Partially, of course, because I’ve been communicating with everyone I know via my lagging blog, sporadic e-mails, or short phone calls (in the case of my parents). Time passes at home when I’m at school, and I develop as a person away from home – but this summer I think has exaggerated those things. It feels like no time has passed. It feels like when I get home my brother will still be living in Michigan, and my dog Sam will run to greet me at the door. But in reality, time at home didn’t freeze when I joined the voyage… and returning home, and then to Santa Cruz, I know a lot will have happened that I haven’t heard about. Plus Sean will be living close to home (which is awesome!)… but meanwhile, Sam has passed away, though we’ll have a new little puppy in the fall.

There’s also this whole idea of us having changed as people. Again, over dramatized in certain speeches and farewells… and totally dismissed by others. While some people may have totally revamped their personalities and others believe they haven’t changed a bit, I suppose, again, I fall somewhere in between. Today I thought about it and realized that yes, this has changed me, far more than a quarter in Santa Cruz at school. The reasons I’m sure are somewhat obvious, but it’s significant for me to accept since so many people on the ship are insisting this was just a frivolous adventure… for me, it wasn’t. There are things I wish I could have done, would have planned, and risks I wish I’d taken… but despite all of that, I still sought out many things from the perspective of a student – even if half the places I went to were “tourist” spots. With how much we’ve been cramming into our heads in global perspectives, it’s impossible not to consider the history and circumstances behind everywhere that we visit, and consequently impossible to totally feel like a tourist (despite making ditsy tourist goofs at times).

So coming out of this, I’m pleased. I didn’t let it get me down that things were different than I expected. I didn’t let my body dictate how much fun I could have, despite having physical restrictions. I didn’t let it ruin my trip that I lost a loved one. I even eventually got over it when we “accidentally” woke up in France instead of England.

Instead, I now have a better understanding of things… through textbooks, yes. But also through having met students and professors from all over the world, from being taught by them, and by experiencing the places they teach about. I also feel like I have learned about myself… my likes and dislikes, what I think about politics and the world, about the US and where we stand. Plus, performing for a couple of hundred people… and surviving despite fumbling for chords, that was a pretty empowering experience!

So I leave this voyage with a yearning to return to so many places, to see what I didn’t see the first time around – and to venture to other places I’ve never been before. As my mum said, the beautiful thing about not making it everywhere I wanted to go is that now I still have dreams. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be back on another Semester at Sea voyage in a different role. Time will tell!


grand tour

It's taken me forever, but I finally have pictures of my cabin! Hopefully I'll have pictures of the rest of the ship up soon...

front part of our cabin

how to put on your life jacket
and run to your lifeboat!

our beds (mine is on the left)...
and the weird minimalist art (right wall) we're stuck with

i fell asleep with my palm pilot one night, so my
steward entrusted my monkey, java, with it when he made my bed

stash of foreign munchies!

binary light switch?

hard to photograph our teeny (but nice) bathroom

another trial...

who throws bottles into their toilet?!