Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 12- Barcelona to Cádiz, Spain

Today we had an early morning trying to get to the airport for our 11 am flight. Some of us had very little sleep so it was kind of a struggle. We grabbed some breakfast and headed out the door by 8:15. The metro station was really close so we took it to the central station and transferred to the train that goes to the airport. We checked in for our flight with a ton of other SAS kids and boarded the flight back to Cádiz. It’s only a little over an hour back but some girls were having a hard time because they were either still drunk or hungover from the night before. Sarah and I thought they were really dumb to get so drunk knowing they had a flight in the morning. The two girls spent most of the flight in the bathroom. Sarah and I just looked at the pretty Spanish men in the magazines.


I grabbed a cab from Jerez where the airport is to Cádiz with Brittney, Courtney (my roommate), and Lance (Courtney’s boyfriend). We returned to the port and got lunch at a place called San Francisco Uno. I had lentil soup, chicken and ham croquettas, and watermelon for dessert. It was a great last meal in Spain. Once we were done stuffing our faces we went back to the port and got on the ship. I put my stuff down and immediately took a shower. It was greatly needed. After unpacking I headed to dinner in the dining room. We were still in port so we got to watch the sun start to set over Spain for one last time. After dinner there were discussion groups from the beginning of the voyage that met to discuss our adventures in Spain. Our group had many interesting stories and different perspectives on what it was like traveling as a foreigner. I think our group was pretty successful compared to some other people. The group leader had to leave half way through the discussion because two girls got to the boat at 8:05 pm when we were supposed to be on by 6pm. They were more than two hours late which is about 24 hours of dock time in the next port. They are lucky they didn’t get left behind. The ship was supposed to leave at 8pm but a SAS trip was delayed by about 2 hours so the ship waited for them. I’m not sure what the girls’ punishment will be but I’m sure they will get in trouble.


I met up with Sam, Logan, Courtney (Logan’s roommate) Brooke, and Erik on deck 7 to try to camp out under the stars. We encountered security who told us we could stay but that someone comes to wash the deck at 4 am so we would have to move so we don’t get hosed. We decided not to sleep outside and just talked until we were too tired. We had some really soul-bearing conversations for just recently meeting each other but it was a really good experience. We stumbled into bed to face Global Studies at 9 am on a Sunday.


+ + +

I made it back safely from Barcelona without losing anything and with some truly amazing experiences.


- - -

Harry Harris got mugged the last night in Barcelona while he was walking back from dropping another SAS girl off at her hostel. He wasn’t hurt and they didn’t get his money, only his phone. Sad but it could have been so much worse. His phone was broken anyway.


Also, I wrote postcards to Andrew and Mama II and Big Daddy but the post office was closed. You will get them much later when I get home because foreign post offices are so hard to figure out!

Parc Guell


Parc Guell


Day 11- Barcelona, Spain

Our first full day in Barcelona started with breakfast at the hostel. Breakfast consisted of bread, butter, jam, muffins, cereal, ham, and cheese. There was also coffee, hot tea, and hot milk to make hot chocolate with. After breakfast we broke into two groups to do our site seeing for the day. My group started off with a brisk walk down the street to the Picasso Museum. Surprisingly we only got lost once on the way there! We took our time wandering through the exhibit (a little too much time due to an uninvited straggler) and saw a ton of interesting pieces of art. The really big and famous Picasso pieces that most people would recognize are not in the Museum but there are still plenty of drawings and paintings that really represent his variety of styles. I really enjoyed seeing his artwork since it is a big part of what we studied in high school Spanish class. We visited the gift shop where my credit card was denied again and the cashier still asks me for a PIN number…I’m pretty sure I don’t need one but for now I’ll just rely on the Euros. After the gift shop we sat in a little coffee shop while we waited for the straggler, Anne. When she finally finished looking at every single thing we headed to a place called Bar Restaurant Lisa for lunch. I ordered gazpacho, grilled chicken, and a coke. It was all amazing. There was a piece of chicken on my plate that I wasn’t sure what part of the body it came from. I asked Nhesty who is from the Philippines and he said it was the neck. I tried a tiny bite and it tastes like regular chicken but there is not much meat on that part.


After lunch we met back with Anne (she said couldn’t eat with us because they allowed smoking inside) and we caught the Barcela Turistica bus to La Sagrada Familia.  The tour bus costs 21 euros for a day pass and has routes all over the city. We can use our ticket on three different lines and get on and off at any stop. They have headphones that you listen to as you drive to hear about all the sites you are passing. Here are some things I learned:


-          Barcelona was originally a Roman colony

-          There was once a snow storm and people skied down the streets and used the metro as a ski lift back up the hill


We got off the bus right across the street from La Sagrada Familia which is a church designed by Gaudi. The Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Familia was created in 1874 by the Spiritual Association of the Devotees of St. Joseph as a church dedicated to the Holy family. In 1882 the foundation stone of the crypt was laid under direction of the architect Fancisco de P. del Villar. A year and a half later Antoni Gaudi took over and devoted forty three years of his life to this work. Later, a generous donation was anonymously given and Gaudi changed the direction of the architecture. Construction still continues to this day. At present the church has two facades dedicated to the Birth of Jesus (on the front) and the Passion of the Christ (on the back) When it is finished the third will be the Glory of Jesus resurrected. There will be 18 towers, 12 dedicated to the apostles, four to the evangelists, one to the Virgin Mary, and another to Jesus which will rise to 170 meters. There are over 300 people who work on the project. The interior is planned to be completed in 2010 for services. The outside will be completed in 2030. All of the designs used in the church are related to nature and Gaudi’s deep interest in religion and mysticism. This is another location in Barcelona that I studied in depth in high school and it blows my mind to see it in person and see how massive it is. We took an elevator up to the top of a tower and saw not only a great view of the city but the tiny details that go from the ground all the way to the top of each tower. We took the spiral stairs down and peeked out all the windows to see what sculpture was next to us.


During this whole time we are worrying because Anne disappeared when we went through the ticket line and we cant get in contact with her. I wont relate the details because they are so frustrating but I think we all learned that some people are not prepared to travel in groups or without a chaperone.


After La Sagrada Familia we hopped back on the tour bus and went to Parc Guell. We walked about 10 minutes from the bus stop to the hill where the park is situated. The park was originally made as a neighborhood where people would actually live. It never really caught on so there are a couple of houses and just some interesting architecture on the plaza and surrounding areas. There is also a natural area to walk down dirt paths and people were jogging around for exercise. The whole place is covered with mosaic tiles. The walls, ceilings, pillars, benches, and sculptures are all unique and colorful and handmade. This was yet another place I had learned about in Spanish class and my favorite thing that I have seen so far.


We headed back to the hostel around 6:30 pm so we could get ready to get dinner and go out for the night. We stopped by the market to get a snack; I got some really juicy cherries that were awesome. We snacked and napped until it was dinner time around 9:30. We headed to a place next to the hostel called Brasil. Only half our group went and ate upstairs, the other half headed to another place outside. We got a special with 2 tapas, paella, and sangria. The tapas were really interesting because we didn’t get to choose them with the special. We tried octopus, seafood salad, artichoke, olives, meatballs, and chicken. They were all really good. Gelato was a perfect conclusion to our meal. I had a double cone with banana and pistachio. My two favorites that I don’t think a single other person likes!


Back at the hostel we met up with everyone and made some plans for the night. We wanted to hit up this karaoke place but we weren’t sure where it was. We knew it was near the beach so we took some people who had been to the beach the night before and armed with an iphone GPS we started out. We walked past the harbor/port and towards something like a highway. It started looking sketchy so (after much arguing) we decided to head to the beach instead. Well, when we got to the beach that was scary too so we headed back to the hostel. On the road by the hostel I had my first up close experience with a prostitute. They were all over the street just looking for men to grab. Literally they were grabbing any guy who walked by. I grabbed the arm of the guy closest to me and we walked arm and arm to the hostel to avoid either of us getting assaulted. We arrived safely and a group of us sat in the plaza and chatted till the street cleaners came by with a fire hose to wash down the plaza. That was a strange experience; in America the streets and public areas are not cleaned on a nightly basis, or at all usually.


In the morning we have to catch a flight back to Cádiz so hopefully our use of public transportation goes much more smoothly.


+ + +

Seeing the most breathtaking views and the most beautiful architecture was a once in a lifetime experience. I would absolutely live in Barcelona if I had the opportunity.


- - -

Our second night trying to party it up in Barcelona was also a bust. Interesting, but still a failure.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 10- Cádiz to Barcelona, Spain

Our group traveling to Barcelona met up at 6 am in Tymitz Square (on the 5th deck) to leave the ship and catch a cab to the airport in Jerez, which is about 45 minutes away. We pulled ourselves together at this early hour and made it to the airport with time to spare. We got some lovely airport food for breakfast and sat in the food court which had no air conditioning. I felt fine but Thomas was struggling and had to fan himself. He was also signing while fanning himself with his boarding pass so he reminded me of a big Baptist lady in church in the deep south. We finally got to check in and go through security about 40 minutes before our flight. Its really strange that you cant just check in when you get there, there is a certain time to begin checking in and a different time to go through security. Maybe because Jerez is such a small airport? The flight was fine, I tried to sleep most of the way.


Upon our arrival to Barcelona we made our way to the train station to attempt to navigate the public transportation system. We managed to follow some SAS kids who knew more Spanish than us so we made it on the train safely. It took a while but we finally made our transfers successfully and got off in the middle of the city in Plaza Catalunya. We walked down the famous street Las Ramblas, which is where our hostel is. There is a middle section with the street on either side where vendors, performers, and tons of shoppers and tourists crowd in together with the outdoor dining of the tapas bars that are so popular here. We took our time looking at everything on the street as we searched for Kabul Hostel in Plaza Real. We finally found it and checked in to our 10 person dorm room. There are 5 bunk beds in the room and each person gets a locker. All the doors and lockers are opened with a special magnetic key fob that we each got when we checked in. It even opens the front door to the hostel, much like a swipe card at usual hotels.


After checking in a seeing all the amenities of the hostel we went out in search of our 2 pm lunch. Some of us headed to Casa Joan Restaurant. I shared chicken paella with Sarah C. who is from outside Dallas. It was great for my first or many authentic Spanish meals. After our leisurely lunch we walked through the open market and saw fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts, candies, and traditional meals. I saw so many items that I had never even seen or heard of before. Everything looked so good and it was hard not to buy some of everything. We did some shopping at the boutiques in the area and went to H&M even though they have that in every major city in the U.S. On the way back to the hostel, Harry, Katie and I ran into some SAS kids who invited us to the apartment they were renting down the street. We got some ice cream (which was amazing mint chocolate chip) and went to check out their place. The people across the way from them are growing weed that you can see from the window. Other than the possibility of drug dealing neighbors it seemed like a nice place! We chatted with them for a little then headed back to the hostel to get ready for dinner. We went to a place called Amatxu where I shared chicken paella with Tara. It was the same meal as my lunch but I really like paella and I like comparing the different flavors at different restaurants.


After dinner we had some drinks at happy hour at the hostel. We met some kids from Arkansas, Martin and Miles, who are just backpacking around Europe for the summer and played some card games with them. Marty is in the Air Force Reserve and just returned from a tour in Qitar. (sp?) The game was really entertaining and we were laughing louder than any other group in the room. That was about the time someone changed the tv channel so we could watch the news about Michael Jackson’s death. We didn’t believe it at first and a couple people were really upset. It seems so crazy because as strange as he is, he is such an icon and universally recognized. Also kind of strange is that Farrah Faucet died either the same day or the night before and she too was especially famous.


After we all paid tribute to the King of Pop we headed to the club called Razzmatazz. Its three stories tall with 10 different themed rooms. The hostel had worked out a deal that it would be free for the people staying there that night. We headed out about 1:45 am in cabs and found what was the sketchiest place I have seen so far. It was down a dark alley and there was only one bartender for about 150 hostel kids. We stayed for about 20 minutes and then caught a cab back to the hostel and went to sleep. It was neat to say I’ve been there but I don’t know if I would go back. On a regular night the cover charge is 25 euros which is more than my bed at the hostel with breakfast and dinner included! It was definitely an interesting experience but kind of a failure at the same time.


+ + +

The U.S. soccer team beat the Spanish soccer team 2-0 Wednesday night!


- - -

I didn’t know you needed to bring a towel to a hostel so I had to shake dry after my shower. Good thing to know before the next one in Rome!

Day 9- Cádiz, Spain

Today I woke up at 6:45 and went out on Deck 5 to see the sunrise and my first view of Europe. I got to spend an amazing thirty minutes watching the sky change colors and the huge sun rise above the rooftops of homes, churches, office buildings, and castles. I actually picked the best place on the ship to watch the arrival into port. The port authorities send in a pilot to our ship to help steer it into our berth. The pilot ship, as I think its called, pulled alongside our ship and without tying on or slowing down the pilot jumped across the water and into the open door on our ship. The pilot ship then sped off leaving us to navigate the rest of the way. It was pretty funny to look straight down to the 2nd deck and see a man jump from his boat to our ship while both were going about 17 mph (I think Dia told me it was mph but maybe she meant 17 knots? I don’t really know about that information)


The crew met for breakfast at 7:30 and got a good view of Cádiz from the aft deck. There is a huge cruise ship next to us that really makes our ship look tiny and boring with its many pools and balconies. We finally touched European/Spanish soil about 9:45 am. As soon as I stepped onto the ground I already felt wobbly. We all felt a little “land-sick” until we started walking down the narrow streets packed with shops of all kinds. We stopped at the ATM across from Lacoste on a side street made of cobble stones and lined with apartment balconies overflowing with flowers and laundry on clothes lines. Everything looks like something that is only seen in the movies, it’s all so quintessential. We headed to the train station for the kids who are going to Seville tomorrow on their own. The train station was packed with SASers trying to get their train tickets before exploring the city.


After an hour of waiting in the station we finally embarked on our adventure. We first walked down the street past a beach where we had our first photo shoot of the day. We saw tons of churches, cathedrals, and convents along the way. We made it to the large Cathedral, Santa y Apostólica Iglesia Catedral de Cádiz. We ran into David Geis outside and he recommended going to the Cathedral and the tower. We bought our 3 euro tickets to the Cathedral and took a look at all the statues, altars and paintings. We also went into the crypt and looked at a fake corpse in a glass box. At least I hope it was fake. Then we checked out some souvenir shops before climbing the bell tower to get an awesome view of the whole city.


Torre de Poniente gives a 360 view of Cádiz with narration of all the landmarks that can be seen from its balconies. This was the location of photo shoot two for the day. After our climb back down we found a place for our late Spanish lunch called Bar Cafetería cada 2 por 3. We lunched on ham (really more like prosciutto)  and tomato (really a tomato spread) sandwiches and sangria. We ended up chatting with the British waiter and he brought us some potato chips for free. The other waiter later gave us all a free shot of what was supposedly caramel vodka. After we were stuffed we continued our walk to Parque Gevenes where we met some local high school kids in the cave by the waterfall. We finished our loop around the city in time to grab dinner on the ship. We must have gotten fresh produce because the lettuce was green again and there were some great plums. We quickly showered and headed down to the pier to see if we could squeeze on the flamenco trip that the rest of the group was going on. Since I sold my flamenco ticket for tomorrow I decided this would be a good alternative. We got on the bus and made our way to a small town outside Cádiz where we spent the evening.


We were greeted with a small glass of wine as we got off the bus in what resembled a ranch. The wine was not what anyone expected and we later learned it was sherry wine. We packed into a stadium of sorts to see the bull fighting. Unfortunately it was less than impressive because it was actually a cow, and a baby one at that. The bull fighting was preceded and followed by two flamenco dancers and a man with a horse that he trained to move like it was dancing with the women. This was fairly entertaining as I had never seen a horse do tricks like that before. After the show outside, we migrated into the “salon” where we were given more sherry and some appetizers. There was cured ham, bread, cheese, and oddly enough, corn nuts. We also tried their sangria which we suspect was non-alcoholic. There was another flamenco show inside with a guitar player, a singer, three female dancers, and one male dancer. As we watched I thought of all the things that we had talked about is music class and tried to count the beats of the music. It was a lot harder than I thought.


When we got back to the ship I went back to the room and packed for Barcelona while everyone else went out on the town. Should be interesting to see what fun they get into tonight!


+ + +

It took me 21 years, but I finally made it to Europe!


- - -

I have to wake up at 5 am and it is currently 1 am!


“Welcome to Spain, eat a frickin churro”- direct quote from Gina, regarding what she expected people to say as we disembark


on that note, I had a churro. It was good but not like what they have at amusement parks.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 8- At Sea, Pre-port Spain

I woke up a little late and as I didn’t sign up to work out last night I went to breakfast before showering. Breakfast ends at 8:30 am but my class isn’t till 9:20 am so I have some extra time in between. However, I would rather sleep till 8:30 and get breakfast right before class so I’m not starving by lunch time at noon. Meal times on the ship are so strange so when we get to Spain we will be thrown off by their 10 pm dinner time. (We usually eat at 5:30 pm)


Ethnomusicology was the most exciting class today because we watched videos of flamenco (flaming-o as Prof. Jones’ son calls it) dancing and singing. He sang and imitated the female dancers for us. It was much more stimulating than whatever we talked about in Social Justice and Educational Theories today. (obviously because I can’t even remember what the topic was…maybe something about schools raising children to be socially responsible instead of the parents?) Erik was psyched about the fish sticks at lunch today. They were pretty good and the lima beans were great. I might have been the only one who actually really likes lima beans. I ate lunch with Matt who just graduated from Bentley right outside Boston and a professor named Jamie (?) who teaches Religion. She asked us so many questions about ourselves but very detailed ones which required me to pull up a bunch of audiology information that I learned almost two years ago when she asked me why people lose their hearing as they get older. It was a struggle but I think I gave a good explanation of how the different parts of the ear work and how different things can go wrong to cause hearing loss. It was kind of funny because I wanted to answer the question but at the same time I was thinking about why or if she even cared!


In our logistical Pre-port lecture we learned all about the do’s and don’ts of going into Spain. We learned all the emergency numbers, what constitutes an emergency, when to get on and off the ship etc. etc. It was all good information and got everyone REALLY excited for our first port. We spent the rest of the evening playing Rummy (I’m currently in second place of our running game) and talking about what we want to do in Cádiz tomorrow. We are probably going to explore the city before we all part ways on Thursday to see different parts of the country. The plan is to see the sunrise in the morning as the ship comes into the port and get our first sight of real land and Europe!


+ + +

We are going to be in Spain in less than 10 hours probably!


- - -

I realized today that I didn’t bring a nail clipper. HUGE mistake there!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 7- At Sea

This morning I tried my hand (feet? legs?) at the Stairmaster. I must be doing it wrong because I didn’t break a sweat or feel any muscles working. I don’t think I will be signing up for that machine again anytime soon. I met Sam(antha) and Erik at breakfast but had to leave quickly because I was grossed out by Erik mixing his eggs, ketchup, and sausage (that looked and smelled like hotdogs) together.  


In Ethnomusicology the teacher had a demonstration of how to learn music aurally and orally by asking volunteers to play two different instruments. One was a cowbell type instrument and one was a gourd with beads on the outside. The cowbell thing was played with a drumstick so the teacher demonstrated a rhythm and asked the student to repeat it. It was a complicated rhythm with long and shorts that I couldn’t follow at all. The first kid got it pretty easily and the girl played the gourd pretty well. Then Mr. Bean volunteered to play the cowbell. I laughed so hard and Andrew and I decided that there should be a new video called Mr. Bean Learns Music. The teacher said he would give Mr. Bean some candy tomorrow for participating. I happened to have some with me so I gave him a piece. About five minutes later Mr. Bean raised his hand, I thought to make a comment on the discussion, and told the teacher that the teacher now owed me a piece of candy. Well that was awkward and the teacher asked if I had any favorites that he could bring! I said no thank you. Additionally, I couldn’t stop laughing all class because we were singing a song the teacher made up that goes:


(to the tune of the Spanish National Anthem)

Andalucía, Iberian Peninsula, we sail to thee to learn your ways

Bull fights and street life, tapas and wine

…and it goes on, clearly I didn’t learn aurally very well.


Well, Mr. Bean was sitting next to me and he sang…bull fights and street fights. I laughed and told him it was street life and he was so confused and I laughed so loud the teacher asked what happened. It was a fairly lively class.


I sat outside for lunch with Jay, the Vandy guy, because it was nice and sunny again. They had ice cream sundaes for dessert which was quite a treat. We took our school photo after dinner and they are going to send it to The Hustler supposedly. I don’t know what Vandy will do with it because it is the summer and they aren’t printing the newspaper right now.


I went to the Sign Language Seminar tonight and met a bunch of people interested in or learning sign language. I went in thinking that I would just pretend like I didn’t know anything because I wasn’t sure what the other people would be like and how much they would know. Several of the girls were overly confident, saying they used to be fluent and now because they work with severely disabled children they have lost their signs because the children don’t use very many signs. (I didn’t believe this girl) Other people said they were fluent but then took about 5 minutes to formulate one sentence. The LLC (Living Learning Coordinator) Lissa talked about some ASL basics, some history, and some grammar. I had trouble keeping my mouth shut when their history was not correct but I just kept thinking that these people are not really here to learn ASL, they are just doing it for fun so it doesn’t really matter if they know the accurate history. I didn’t really learn any new signs because we went over the alphabet, numbers, and common phrases. It was nice to see who was interested so I can sign with them to practice. We are going to have a silent lunch on the 30th so we can practice conversing in sign.


After the Seminar I met up with my friends and we went out on deck 7. Once again I forgot to get a drink voucher so I didn’t get a drink. Sam was generous and gave me a sip of hers. I made a point to go talk to strangers because I don’t like that I see new people every day when we are in such a small place. I met Justin and Tyler who I are from California I believe. Then I talked to Michael and his two friends. Michael is from NYC and goes to Stanford, his friend and frat brother is from southern California, and the other friend is from Chicago and goes to Purdue. They were pretty typical fraternity boys. Shane introduced me to PJ who is from Boston and is majoring in psychology. He wants to start a microbrewery after he goes to business school. I also met Ian who is in my ethnomusicology class. He is from Philadelphia but goes to Pitt.  He was the kid who was actually good at playing the cowbell thing.


We changed our clocks for the last time before Spain tonight so I got to bed a little later than usual. Hopefully we won’t be losing many more hours any time soon.


+ + +

I found some new friends to sign with and commiserated with Courtney about the annoying girl we met at the ASL Seminar.


- - -

I looked like an idiot when I met a kid named Ki because Harry tried to pick me up for a picture and I almost fell on my head.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 6- At Sea, Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day!

I’m fairly used to being away from home on this day as I’ve only been home once since I was 10 years old. Hope you are enjoying your sports book Dad! Today was Day 4 of classes which is super strange since its Sunday. Classes were the usual, nothing exciting happened during the day. I worked out in the afternoon on the bike again. There was a little more activity in the afternoon compared to the morning. I met up with the usual crew for dinner. Pineapple upside cake was tasty for dessert. I did some reading for homework after dinner and signed up to work out again tomorrow.


I went to the multi-faith service at 7 tonight. I wasn’t sure what it would be like but I figured it would be good to check out. We started with a moment of silence to gather our thoughts and then two girls shared their personal stories of when faith had been really important to them. One of the girls talked about working in Romania and seeing a girl in the hospital with severe deformities. She said she was scared to be with her but then her friend put the girl in her lap and all of a sudden she didn’t see the girl’s disabilities anymore and just saw a regular pretty little girl. I thought that was a great story and thought about the kids I work with at school. I never had a moment like that when it just changed, I think I always looked past the physical part with the kids I volunteered with. Now that I work with them almost every day it just seems natural that they are normal people to me. But it also made me think of some of my friends who are nervous and feel weird around people with disabilities. I think if they were in close contact and took the time to look closer they would realize that people with disabilities aren’t scary, they are totally normal people who just look and do things differently.


After the multi-faith service I played some Apples to Apples with my friends and then Courtney, Shane, Mishal (pronounced Michelle, but he is a boy) and I hit up the "Rock the Ship" dance party in the Union. We tried to teach Mishal, who is from Saudi Arabia, how to dance, but we weren’t very successful. The dancing got kind of lame after a while. They should have chosen me as the DJ instead of DJ Billy. I would have been much more entertaining. We went outside for Pub Night but ended up just sitting around talking. It wasn’t really an eventful night.


+ + +

Courtney and I were supposedly on the tv’s in the rooms while they were filming the dance party. Emma said the camera caught us dancing so potentially 700 other people saw it too!...not sure if that’s really a plus though…


- - -

Shane “farkeled” (the new term for screwing up) tonight by pulling on the railing of a balcony inside on the 6th deck and pulled it off right as a crew member was walking by. The crew guy took his id number in case he has to pay for repairs.

Day 5- At Sea

I woke up early to work out on the recumbent bike this morning. My thirty minutes of cycling was fantastic and I think I can attempt the elliptical or the treadmill sometime. I stopped by the dining hall to get some yogurt on my way to shower before class. Dan informed me that he submitted a note to the Rumor Channel on the televisions in our cabins. He asked if it was true that the ship was going slow on purpose. The response on tv was that yes, it is going slow because we have to have a certain amount of class days before our first port so we are getting there in twice as long as we could possibly take. I think everyone is frustrated with that but there isn’t much we can do about it, we are here for classes right?


I got a seat behind a pole in Global Studies so I had to lean one way to see the teacher then lean the other way to see the slides on the screen to write down the notes. It was quite the abdominal workout. I almost fell asleep in my education class until we got to do some group work. It is so different having big classes here. Most of my classes have about 15 or more people (Global Studies is about 800). I am used to having my small class of 6 where I know everyone very well and the teacher lets us have a discussion instead of presenting a lecture. It is hard for me to focus without any interaction with the teacher or the other students. Luckily I didn’t fall all the way asleep, that could have been embarrassing.


I finally got around to reading the notes written on the back of the painting in our room. They were pretty much the same: the food gets bad after a while, travel independently not with SAS, take advantage of every opportunity, etc. The most interesting thing was that a girl I went to camp with (or at least someone with the same name, from Austin, TX) was in the same cabin as I am and left a long message. I can’t wait to figure out if it’s the same girl, I’m almost positive it is. Also, I finally talked to Rachel last night. I know her from camp and haven’t seen her since. Apparently she was a counselor the year before I was.


After dinner tonight I went to hear David Geis speak about Spain. He told us a little history, some culture, and some things that are popular to do in various cities. It was good information and he is giving two more talks on the topic so we will get plenty information to plan our activities in Barcelona. After the speaker a bunch of us hung out and talked but I ended up going to sleep fairly early.


We saw two islands on either side of the ship this evening. I forget the name but they appear to be smack in between North America and Europe. And the crazy thing is people actually live there! Everyone went wild seeing land for the first time in a while.


+ + +

I finally exercised for the first time in a long time.


- - -

Julie almost burned the ship down by putting cheese on her toast in the toaster trying to make a grilled cheese. A man searched her out and yelled at her for it!


“You cannot find yourself; You can only become yourself.” Anonymous

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 4- At Sea

I made it to Global Studies just in time for a seat in the back of the Union this morning. Most of the class was spent drawing a map of the Mediterranean area and labeling the different regions, bodies of water, and land forms. This was all new to me because I never took geography in high school. So now that I know exactly where we are headed I will be much more prepared for my upcoming travels. My education class had an interesting conversation about need based and rights based aid to people. It took us a while to catch on to what the teacher was looking for but just to brag a little…I got it right on the money and explained it very well to the class. I had lunch with Jess, Julie, Tim (who is going on an excursion with me in Egypt) and Spencer. Lunch was not what you would expect. It was more like dinner items, such as pork chops, roasted pumpkin and rice pudding. I think everyone will be hungry tonight.


We had to go observe people out in the halls during Ethnomusicology today. I filled out my observation form in the computer lab. Everyone was looking at us like we were creeps because we were staring at people trying to check their email and making notes. This class is similar to my anthropology class from last semester at this point. I think it will be really interesting but more difficult to interview people in other countries because of the language barrier.


Dinner was funny chicken that tasted a whole lot better than it looked. It made our clothes smell like the food though, just from sitting in the dining hall for a couple of hours. I had dinner with Dan who is from NYU. He is a film major, so we talked about all his favorite movies. Most of them are from the 70s or foreign so I didn’t recognize any of them. After dinner I went to listen to the inter-port student talk about Spain. She just answered students questions about good places to go, mostly in Barcelona because that is where she goes to University. She gave us some sites to see and restaurants to visit. I made a list of things that sounded good so I can make sure I get to see them when we are in Barcelona next week. After the speaker I met up with a large group of people to play games. We couldn’t find a place to check out Trivial Pursuit so I convinced everyone to play Farkel. We had about 13 people playing, none of which had played before. At the end of three rounds only about 6 of them had earned points. We put the game on hold till tomorrow so some people could go have a drink at pub night. I went back to the room and watched the end of Harry Potter with my roommate. I signed up to work out for the first time at 7 am tomorrow morning which is pretty early considering my first class isn’t until 9:20. It will be interesting to see how using the machines works with the rocking of the ship. I heard its best not to look out the window.


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There is a genius kid in my ethnomusicology class that is EXACTLY like Mr. Bean.


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I didn’t get any points in an hour’s worth of playing Farkel last night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 3- At Sea

After breakfast with some girls I met last night, I went to Global Studies with Julie in the Union. We left and went to a satellite room because the rocking and weird fabric patterns in the Union don’t make you feel too good. It was strange watching the lecture on a tv and hearing people repeat the names he asked us to pronounce when the teacher wasn’t even in the room. The teacher went pretty fast and covered a lot of information which would have been ok if the power point slides had come through the video clearly. It was hard to figure out what some of the foreign names were. After Global Studies I went to Social Justice and Education Theories. I like the topics we are going to talk about such as education as a right or a privilege. I don’t know nearly as much on this topic as some people in my class but I think I will start to develop opinions as the class goes on. I met Julie for lunch with Shane and a new girl we met named Kimberly. My peanut butter and jelly on toast was excellent. I headed to Ethnomusicology after lunch and met up with Erik.  We had two groups clapping to different beats and then went around the room and introduced ourselves while keeping the rhythm and meter (or something like that) of our clapping. It was not as easy as it looks/sounds.


I had dinner (spaghetti) on the back deck since there was a little bit of sunshine today. Then a group of us sat around and talked about which activities we wanted to do together in different countries. We chose a few to sign up for but it is a lottery so hopefully we can all go together. After dinner we decided to hit up pub night and see how tipsy everyone could get from their maximum three drinks. I didn’t buy a drink ticket so I was just a spectator. The wine came in little juice cups and takes about three sips to finish. It was funny watching people see the drinks like they hadn’t ever had one before. I bought some popcorn and thought it was a much better investment than a $50 drink ticket. We sat around and talked till late in the evening before heading to our beds after turning the clocks back another hour.


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No feelings of sea sickness today at all! Maybe because I remembered to take the medicine right when I woke up!


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I dropped my card behind the bed and had to search in the dark to find it.


Day 2- At Sea

I got up this morning and took my first shipboard shower. I managed not to lose my footing and I didn’t have to run in and out of the shower with the rocking of the ship. I slept through the night and hardly felt any motion. I went to breakfast and sat with some Life Long Learners and a girl named Audrey who I am going to Barcelona with. The Life Long Learners have a ton of interesting stories and there isn’t a single country in the whole world that at least one of them hasn’t visited. After breakfast everyone met in the Union to discuss the book that we were supposed to read before our voyage. I got through about 20 mins of the discussion before I had to go lay down because I was feeling the fatigue part of sea sickness pretty strongly. I slept until the next session at 11 and then returned to the Union. I unfortunately had to leave again to experience the other symptoms of sea sickness and then slept for 4 hours. I think I have recovered for today but I hope I can acclimate soon because I don’t like sleeping through the whole day like I’ve done today.


The Union is not a great place to be stationed when you aren’t feeling good because it is up higher on the ship and towards the front. It experiences more rocking than the other areas on the ship. Additionally, the water is rougher because we are crossing the Atlantic. I have heard mixed opinions about how rough it is. Originally I heard it is a 5/10 for how rough it could be. I also heard that today was unusually rough. It looks pretty dreary outside so I hope it improves in the next few days. I made it back to the Union for the health and safety talk and a chance to meet our professors. Both of my professors seem interesting and enthusiastic about their subjects. Classes start tomorrow morning so we will see how they compare to the classes that I have taken before.


I had dinner with Courtney and her boyfriend to kind of celebrate her birthday. There were no alcoholic drinks served so she couldn’t really celebrate being 21 quite yet. I met up with some other people after dinner to play cards. We played cards, shifted to a classroom to play Pictionary and ended up playing charades until almost midnight. There was a boy, Mishal, from Saudi Arabia who made everything so much funnier. For example, he suggested chicken curry as one of the things we gave the other team to act out. I was proud when I guess three in a row correct for my team! We had to turn our clocks forward tonight as one of the first of four time changes before we reach Spain. I’m glad I remembered so I don’t sleep through the short breakfast there is before Global Studies.


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I cannot remember laughing harder playing Pictionary or charades than I did tonight.


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I slept through lunch, however that’s not really a minus because I’m sure it was the same choices we had at dinner time.

Day 1- Departure

I arrived in Halifax early (1 am) Sunday morning after a disastrous time in the Newark airport. We went straight to sleep but I had to battle all night with some snoring and the talking of kids exploring the Halifax nightlife outside my window. I woke up early to finish my alcohol awareness course on the computer while the parents slept in. (I passed with flying colors) I met a couple SAS kids downstairs in the lobby. I met people from the Philipines, South Africa, and Germany as well as New Jersey, California, South Carolina, and Massachusetts. We got lunch at a place called Stayners and had a "Boss" brunch with eggs, bacon, potatoes and great bread. We then visited the Maritime Museum and learned about all different types of military ships, the explosion that blew up most of Halifax, and the role Halifax played in rescuing Titanic survivors. Next we went did a tour on what I call a duck boat (amphibious vehicle) and toured the city. We saw the Citadel, the Public Gardens, and various landmarks. We spent the late afternoon at Red Stag Pub which is a part of Alexander Keith's brewery. I tried a Strongbow which is a cider. It was...different. There are numerous pubs, bars, and breweries in Halifax. It seems like there is a alcohol related place on every corner. We had dinner at a place recommended by Logan and her mom called Little Fish. I tried lobster stuffed haddock which was pretty good. We went to sleep after a long day of touring with slightly less noise from the street.


Monday we slept in again and had a late brunch at Coras. I had a panini-crepe with peanut butter, bananas, and bacon. It was surprisingly great. We took a tour of the Citadel and learned all about how it was constructed for the War of 1812 but wasnt finished till the 1850's. We walked through the Public Gardens and ended up at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax. We ended up getting a tour from the principal of the high school. It was interesting to see all the similarities and differences between that school, my school, and the other Sacred Heart schools I’ve been to. We took a walk to see the ship and got a little lost but finally got a pretty up close view of the place where I’m going to be for the next 67 days. It seems like the only other cruise ship I’ve been on, only smaller. After going to the dock we stopped off at Garrison Brewing Company and sampled their beers. I met a few new SAS kids there, of course I don’t remember their names though. We went back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. The parents were invited to a reception on the ship while the kids were left to fend for themselves. Logan and I met up with about 100 other SASers at a place called The Argyle Bar and Grill for dinner. Then we all migrated to the next street over to a place called Coconut Grove that had opened just for us. The drink specials were less than special and they were short staffed for the throng of thirsty college kids that arrived but I met a lot of neat people that I hopefully will be able to find again on the ship.


Today I boarded the M.V. Explorer in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. I got to the port about an hour and forty minutes early because Mom and Dad wanted to drop me off on the way to the airport. That ended up working to my advantage as those who were checking in around 11:45 had to wait while the union workers loading bags took their lunch break. I turned in my passport, got my student I.D., checked my bags, and said goodbye to the parents. I went through the metal detector successfully (unlike the several times in the Newark airport) and boarded the ship. [We got a lecture tonight about how it is a SHIP, not a BOAT] [and Dad taught me that M.V. means motor vessel.] I did all the usual standing in line to make sure I had all the appropriate paperwork and then went to find my room and my new roommate. I am on the fourth deck in an outside double so I have a pretty clear view of whatever we pass, which is not much at this point. My roommate happens to be the only other girl from Vanderbilt, Courtney. She is from Kansas City and knows from people I went to camp with in Colorado. Additionally, her birthday is tomorrow! We also discovered that there is another Vanderbilt student here who I finally met tonight. His name Jay and he is a junior from Denver. I explored the ship with a rather large group of people from various places. We spent all day together and at one point had almost 30 people gathered around us on the back deck this afternoon. It appears that we are pretty popular and we have only been on the ship for less than 12 hours! Hopefully our popularity continues to grow because there are 721 students on the ship and I plan on meeting all of them at some point. Another statistic I learned tonight was that there are 300 different universities represented here. We are also the first voyage that has ever been enrolled to full capacity which is super unusual for a summer voyage. This is SAS's 99th voyage. We met all the faculty/staff, captain and officers and they all seem really interesting. The captain is actually from Dubrovnik, Croatia and is fairly serious. I heard he wrote up a girl for laughing during our life boat drill! Besides exploring, I ate two meals on the ship today. We had tacos for lunch where I was the only one adventurous to try the meat. I survived so it can't be too bad. At dinner time we had fish, potatoes, salad, and chocolate something for dessert. Not bad so far but I hope it doesn't get to be too boring. Tomorrow we have all day orientation and we lose an hour tomorrow night. Should be a full day of the rolling of the ship so I hope I get used to it quickly. I think everyone is beyond excited for this voyage and everything should be an adventure.


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Finding tons of awesome new people to hang out with today will make the next few days at sea much more interesting. I now have a big group of friends to eat my meals with.


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Burning my tongue on hot coffee tonight wasn't exactly pleasant but watching the sun set off the back deck was nice.