September 10th, 2005

I wish I had enough time to update every day. I had big plans to write in my journal every night before I went to bed and then pick and choose what to post on my livejournal. There goes that idea! Oh well…I’ll get over it. Something is better than nothing right?

So I definitely missed my 8am class yesterday. I didn’t sleep through it but somehow I managed to change the time incorrectly on my alarm clock. We had to put our clocks ahead 1 hour and my alarm clock is on military time because the ship is on military time. It was around midnight so it was 0:00….I think that’s what threw me off. Anyways, I woke up thinking it was 7:30 but no it was 8:30 and my class started at 8:00am. Great. I felt terrible. It’s not like I could pull the “I’m not a delinquent. I don’t usually skip class.” routine because none of my professors would believe it. I just went at the end of class, turned in my paper and left. My professor was talking to a bunch of people so I didn’t want to bother him. I left him a note in his mailbox later. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Ok so I guess that story wasn’t very interesting. Sorry!

What else is new? We watched Pixote in Philosophy and Film. It was a riveting movie but at times I felt like it was competing with itself to create the most shock value possible. I also believe a similar thing occurs in the third cinema industry. There is underlying competition between films from different countries to see which one can garner the most shock, pity, despair,etc. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing…but it’s interesting to think about. Every time you thought Pixote couldn’t get any worse, it did. I’m not saying that it wasn’t realistic but after awhile it becomes overkill in my opinion. The movie was about a young boy from the streets of Brazil named Pixote who was in a boy’s reformatory. He escaped with some of the other boys and the movie chronicles his adventures with crime after escaping. There are some truly horrific scenes that brought tears to my eyes. One of the worst was…well I won’t tell you just in case you end up watching it. The first movie we watched was Central Station. It was also about a young boy in Brazil whose mother is hit by a bus and is in search for his alcoholic father who abandoned him. It’s a gorgeous film. Amazing shots and script. I really liked it. I was never one for artsy movies but I’m really enjoying this class. The only bad thing is that our classroom is up near the front of the ship and that’s where you can feel the waves the most. I always have to have candy in my mouth during class because I feel so nauseous. It’s really hard to stare at a screen that’s shaking while the ship (and the contents of your stomach) itself is shaking. Ugh. We’ll see how that goes. My Travel Lit class is fun (the one that I missed yesterday). I just wrote a paper for it this afternoon. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written a paper. I wasn’t very satisfied with it but I wasn’t sure what direction the paper was supposed to take so we’ll see what my professor says. I really enjoyed writing it because we had to compare our experiences in Venezuela with Elizabeth Bishop’s poem (I posted bits of it in the post before Venezuela) Questions of Travel . It is definitely one of my new favorite poems. Anthropology of Food is also going well. Our readings are pretty interesting. One of our books is Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. It’s awesome and a pretty easy yet informative read. I really like our professor. He has such a wealth of knowledge and he’s hilarious.

Today was an insanely busy day. I had class until 12, worked on my paper for a couple hours, ran some errands ( haha I couldn’t think of any other way to put it…what I mean is that I ran around the ship and got stuff taken care of), and then had meetings all night. OH I forgot to mention this. I didn’t get most of the presale trips I signed up for. They all went to lottery and I wasn’t very lucky. The only ones I got were the Clean up the World-Itaparica (Brazil), Township Visit in South Africa, Making Movie Art (India) and Yoga Demonstration (India). I already had the Welcome Reception for Brazil and the Masai Mara Safari. The ones I didn’t get were Homestay (Japan), Operation Hunger (South Africa-service visit), Habitat for Humanity (South Africa- service visit using the money raised by past voyages…almost $8000 I believe?) and Angkor Wat/Phnom Penh. 😦 I was a little bummed out but not for long…it’s not like I’m going to be bored! I don’t want to be ungrateful either. This trip is such a blessing and each minute of it has been worth it so far. Just the opportunity to visit each country is enough. Besides, my balance is only $50 when it could have been over $1000 if I got those trips! Ok so in conclusion. I am not doing very many Semester at Sea trips which is fine with me but the only thing I wish I could do is more service visits. That’s something that might be a little harder to do indy but it’s worth a shot! Ok so first I went to the GLBT support group meeting (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender). After the Tunnel of Oppression (well before that too but that was kind of the turning point) I realized how much support the GLBT community needs not only in terms of moral support but government action as well. I strongly believe that everyone should be entitled to lead whatever type of lifestyle they choose. Nobody should be able to tell you how to life your life. Whatever makes you happy. At night I was talking to Jed and Shane about their “coming-out” experiences. I have so much respect and admiration for them. It was good to hear that they didn’t face too many negative reactions. I guess we’re finally taking a step in the right direction. There’s a fine line between tolerance and acceptance though.

We had a Vicarious Voyage meeting at 7pm today. Vicarious Voyage is a program set up by SAS and a school in your area. You exchange letters, emails, etc. with them throughout the course of the voyage. Me, Amanda, and Courtney are in a group and our school is is Holy Cross School in Garrett Park, MD. We’re meeting tomorrow to talk about what our theme should be with the class.

After that meeting I tried to study for a little bit but it’s so easy to get distracted when you’re sitting in the piano bar area. Even with my headphones on I was still getting distracted. I eventually gave up at 9 and went to Encore with Ashish, Glenn, Doug, and Jack. Encore is basically the equivalent of a discussion for Global Studies. It’s not mandatory so anyone can come either to be a silent observer or to debate with the professor or other students. I was content just to sit and listen. First they were talking about whether the US or other first world countries should monitor the spending of the loans they give out to developing countries or leave it to the countries own discretion. My ignorant opinion right now is that if we’re lending them money we should be able to allocate it as we see fit. I can understand the argument of “who are we to tell them what to do?” We don’t know what their country needs? We don’t know what it’s like to live there so who do we think we are stepping in and telling them what and what not to spend their money on. The reason I think we do have a right to do it is because it is our money after all. If they don’t agree with how it should be spent then they shouldn’t accept the loan. We should definitely consult with as many sources as possible in order to allocate the money most effectively. Another reason for monitoring the money carefully is the rampant corruption that undeniably pervades most third world countries government and economies. Honestly though, I don’t know nearly enough about all of this to have a strong opinion. The next topic we talked about was Hugo Chavez and his rule in Venezuela. Natalie and I only heard half of this because we had to leave early for our Intercultural Ambassador’s Meeting. I’m really excited to be an Ambassador because it’s a great opportunity to meet interport students, US Embassy officials and other guests. I think the interport student from Brazil thinks I’m a stalker. I know where they live now because they have 1 empty room on the ship reserved for interport students and it just happens to be down the hall from me ( I only know because Cristian was staying there). I left him a welcome note on his door. Haha I’m a big nerd…I know. Anyways, Natalie and I signed up to meet and greet the interport student from South Africa. It takes up some of our port time but whatever. The bad thing about this is that there are about 20 Ambassadors ( I think), so once you get your chance to meet an interport student or embassy official- you’re done. You’re still an ambassador but you don’t really get one on one time with any of the other people. We’re all desperately hoping that they’ll be able to set something up with Desmond Tutu for us…we’ll see. How amazing would that be!

Ok so after that Natalie and I went upstairs to get a snack and we found Glenn and Jack still talking about what happened at Encore. Apparently it got kind of volatile after we left. We hung out there for a little bit and walked towards the union to go find a place to study. I completely forgot that there were impromptu salsa lessons tonight so I got pulled into that and Natalie went to go email her mom. I was just going to watch for a few minutes but somehow I got onto the dance floor and started learning. It was sooo much fun. I’m definitely not good at salsa or meringue but I’m trying my best to get the basics down before the welcome reception in Brazil! Whatever, I don’t care if I’m bad, it was fun! You know what made it more fun? Today was the WORST day on the ship in terms of waves. It was so bad last night that I actually woke up a few times. Usually there’s just enough rocking to put me to sleep but last night was terrible. I could feel my stomach moving up and down along with the ship. It’s like being on a roller coaster all the time. Everything on the walls is shaking and walking around the ship is near impossible. You can literally feel the ship ride the waves. One moment you have to struggle to walk because it feels like you’re walking uphill and then the next minute you feel like you’re running downhill and can’t control yourself. I’m surprised I haven’t fallen down yet.

OH! How could I forget? WE CROSSED THE EQUATOR TODAY!!! Dean Tymitz (oh I mean King Neptune) and the Voice came on around 5:30 to let us know that we crossed. Ok so back to the rough waves. They’re pretty rough. It also made salsa dancing extra difficult. Dinner was crazy too. They had a big BBQ to celebrate the equator crossing ( the real celebration will be on Sept. 20th) and they had delicious garden burgers. They decorated the dessert table really nicely with fruits and food sculptures (like at the Folk Life Festival). The worst part was that we tried to eat out on deck and our food was flying everywhere (peas and French fries mostly) as well as ourselves. Quite an experience.Well that was my day. Jed, Shane, and Jess are in the room and we’re doing Shane’s nails. 🙂 Right I’m supposed to be studying. Will write later.

September 11, 2005

Only time for a quick update today. We have our first Global Studies exam tomorrow and I’m already terribly behind in my reading. Lots of studying to do today in addition to preport lecture and a review session. Anyways, hopefully we will have a moment of silence today to remember those lives affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Since we’re kind of living in our own little world it’s easy to forget what’s going on back at home. Jed and I didn’t even realize it was September 11th until we were sitting in Global Studies this morning. I can’t believe it’s been 4 years. It definitely doesn’t seem that long ago. I can still remember that day so vividly. Sitting in Mr. Stein’s AP Stat class when Mrs. Dixon’s voice came over the PA and told us that two planes had crashed into the twin towers. At first I thought it was just an accident and we didn’t understand the extent of the situation until the next class period. Mr.Normyle let us kept the TV on all period and we were just sitting there in disbelief watching the rest of the events unfold. They suspected a plane was going to hit the Capitol building and that was when I started getting really scared (right Jilna?’). Ugh. Ok well there’s no point in reliving the events because I’m sure everyone has their own story. It’s time to move forward. Hope all is well at home.

So we had 3 minutes of silence today during pre-port tonight. The captain and crew joined us so that was nice.

September 12, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! I’ll try and call tomorrow from Brazil. Mom- don’t forget to give him the card when he gets back from New Orleans.

We had our first Global Studies exam this morning. It wasn’t too bad but there were a few tricky questions. I’m just glad it’s over. We just got back from laying out on the top deck because the weather was gorgeous outside. It was just warm enough to sit outside but it started getting really breezy and none of us could read our books so we came inside. Jed, Pete, and Tessa are playing slapjack in my room now…lol.(Vineet- Tessa goes to Stanford and she says she knows you. She said she has some friends on Basmati Raas.)

I’m so excited for Brazil tomorrow! The excitement doesn’t really hit hard until the first cultural pre-port. I don’t really have any plans for Brazil- just the Welcome Reception tomorrow night and Clean up the World-Itaparica on the last day. Other than that I just want to explore the city. Natalie and I have to stay on the ship for a little bit longer tomorrow to meet and greet the South African interport lecturer and student. I want to read up about South Africa tonight because I’m not going to pretend like I’m an authority on the country when in fact I know almost nothing about it except for apartheid, Nelson Mandella, etc. Oh, and that there are A LOT of Indian people in South Africa! Our Port-to-Port reader is actually a really good resource for that. We tried to make a welcome sign for the interport student but it didn’t work out so well….we’re going to try again tonight. haha thank goodness for the magnetic poster board that Natalie brought! Ok well I have to go cash some TC, stop by the field office, and then go for a bridge tour! Will write after the tour and hopefully post tonight.

The bridge tour was awesome. They showed us all the controls and explained a lot of stuff about the ship that we didn’t know. We also learned that we are going to be going through pirate waters! I thought it was just a joke but the captain said it was actually an issue that they carefully consider. It’s not really a big problem for us though because of the size and capacity of our ship. Yeah so the bridge tour was really informative. I have most of it on my video camera and I’m too tired right now to remember everything. 🙂 Right now we’re sitting near the piano bar and watching the Capoeira lessons. It’s amazing. Our interport lecturer Clovis has been conducting lessons the past couple evenings. I keep thinking of how Josh made our GEMS100 go outside in front North Campus diner and do the same thing.

Just came back from more salsa/samba/meringue lessons! It was soo much fun. The ship was still rocking alot today so it was quite an adventure. I’m so excited for the welcome reception tomorrow! Before the pre-port lecture today we were playing cards in my room (me, Ashish, Carri, Amy, Jason, and Amo (short for Amritesh) and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Carri taught us how to play Pit – “Cattle on the Corner!!!” “How can you have cattle when I have 4 of them” Oh man. I’m going to laugh about that for the next 3 months. Ok well me, Lyn, Shane, Jess, Jed, and Pete are about to watch Mean Girls. Good times. I want to wake up to watch the sunset tomorrow morning.

Ha-ha I forgot to mention the Pepto Bismol group. At pre-port some of the people from the health clinic made up a song for us about how to avoid diarrhea among other things. Apparently, after Venezuela “s**t hit the fan”- in the words of our doctor. Tons of people were sick and on one trip 24 out of 28 people came to the clinic. I guess our stomachs just aren’t used to some of the food.

We’re almost in Brazil! I can see Salvador out of my window but we had to anchor the ship before port because they have to do a medical inspection of the whole ship (since we’re coming from Venezuela which is an endemic area). We probably won’t get off the ship until this afternoon- they have to do personal passport checks- meaning they want to match everyone’s face to their picture. There are 700 some people on board…it’s going to be awhile. We also have our embassy briefing and all that. Aah! So excited!!!

I’m staying on the ship in Salvador so I’ll be able to post at least once.

P.S. Sorry for the spelling mistakes. For some reason my spell check in Semgaic isn’t working. 😦

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