Archive for December, 2005

December 30, 2005

December 28th, 2005

It’s amazing how time flies at home. I know winter break is going to be over before I know it. Too bad I had such high hopes for this winter break- I wanted to make an SAS movie and a scrapbook. Looks like that won’t be happening…oh well, I’ll try my best.

I guess I’m slowly readjusting to home but, surprisingly enough, the most frustrating thing I’ve come across is figuring out how to tell people about Semester at Sea. Well, more like WHAT to tell them.

“So, tell me about your trip!”
Me: ” Umm…it was great” but really thinking ” It was the most amazing 3 months of my life. I still can’t believe I did it. I met so many great people and saw things that I never knew existed. I went skydiving in South Africa, paragliding in Venezuela, planted coconut trees in Brazil, went to a crocodile reserve in Mauritius, visited an HIV/AIDS clinic in India, hiked up to the Golden Rock in Myanmar, went to a school for the blind in Vietnam, saw the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong, spent time with my host family in Japan, and SO much more.”

” What was your favorite country”
Me: ” I really can’t decide…they were all different.” but really thinking ” I can’t even tell you a favorite experience in each country, let alone a favorite overall country!” Glenn told me a good way to go about this question. He said say it was like high school superlatives- best nightlife, best food, best shopping, most hospitable people, etc.” That’s hard to decide as well!

Sometimes I just don’t feel like talking about it and I don’t know why. I feel like even though some people do want to hear I sound obnoxious as it’s coming out of my mouth. What did she say in Mean Girls? Oh yeah, word vomit. It’s not going to come out like that. I can’t just rattle off my experiences one after the other. They are going to come out slowly and randomly. I don’t know…it’s strange.

I miss the ship. I miss the people. I miss everything about it. It’s SO good to be home but that’s just what it is. HOME. Our trip to Atlantic City and New York was a lot of fun and it’s just what I needed to get back into the swing of things. I did just what I said I would- fell right back into it. I don’t mind though. I kind of feel like I’m leading two different lives. Oh well, we’ll see what happens. You know what…sometimes I feel like I’m the only one missing Semester at Sea. I know it’s not true but I feel like everyone has gone right back into their old lives and although I have too I still miss the ship and the people so much. I still want to call people and talk to them but I feel like I’m being annoying and intruding on their post-SAS lives. It seems like it was a dream. Glenn was right. I look at pictures and wonder if I was really there and actually seeing those things.

December 29th, 2005

I sit at my laptop for hours sorting through and selecting pictures for my SAS movie…all the while wondering if it really happened. Well, Ronak pretty much put it into perspective today when he asked me if anyone was really going to sit down and watch it. I don’t know if I really care though. Maybe I’m making it more for myself. Looking back at all those pictures (and looking at some for the first time because often times I would just upload them and in the hustle and bustle of shiplife I would completely forget to look at them) brings back SO many memories. Arite, back to it otherwise I’ll never finish.

December 19, 2005

I know this update is REALLY late but the last week was so crazy. I journaled sporadically before, during, and after Hawaii- so here it is. Some of it was handwritten so I had to type it up- sorry for the delay. I know it’s outdated now and I would just keep it on my computer but I want some type of backup as well. I’m putting the last few days first and then starting from Nov 25th.

December 11th, 2005

They said it would be like this. I didn’t believe it. They said nobody would understand. I thought they would. I thought at least I would understand. How can you explain to someone how you have changed when you can’t even explain it to yourself? I don’t want to tuck these 3 months away and write them off as my “semester abroad.” It meant so much more than that. But how? That’s the golden question that is always asked but never sufficiently answered. Is it such a subtle change that nobody notices it? It would be so easy just to fall right back into the old routine but that’s exactly what I don’t want to do. Funny thing is, in the back of my mind, I see that happening without a doubt. Is there any other way though? What did I expect to change? What was I expecting to do? Change my major? Drop out of school? Save the world? Change is the key word here but maybe I don’t know how to change or what to change. I say I don’t want to fall back into it but what else is there to do? Maybe I’ll be more aware of the world now. Whenever I hear anything about the countries we visited it will open a floodgate of memories. Whenever I hear that stupid techno song I will think of all the pub nights, dances, clubs we went to. hahah

Exhaustion. That’s the overriding feeling right now. Trying to catch up on 3 months worth of sleep. Not to mention emotional exhaustion. Too many memories. I wish they weren’t memories. I wish it was still happening. All I needed was to recharge and I could be back on the ship in a week. I don’t have any regrets but if I had to do it again there are indeed a few things I would do differently.

It’s good to hear that other SAS people are feeling the same nostalgia. I was so happy when Glenn called yesterday because I was debating calling SAS people. I thought I would let everyone settle in at home first. As I was scrolling down names in my cell phone I paused a little bit longer on SAS people. I think maybe because I’m not really HOME, it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m in purgatory- as Glenn would say. I was looking at my SAS pics yesterday and then I looked at pics from home. I don’t know if it’s just my imagination but I feel like I look different. Brandon sent me a facebook msg and he said that his mother thought I was pretty. Now that’s something I rarely ever heard before. Honestly. I came to the conclusion that maybe I look better when I’m happy. Not that I wasn’t happy at home but on SAS I was truly happy all the time and just excited about life. I took a great deal to stop me from smiling. I would often find myself grinning for no reason at all. It’s silly, I know. It’s really hard to think of yourself as pretty though. I don’t look in the mirror and see a pretty face, I see all my faults. There are certain people who are just gorgeous all the time without even trying.

You know what’s funny? How we try to find an equivalent for everything. Subconsciously we try to compare what we see to something we are used to. Even now I do it. “Oh this reminds me of that street in Hong Kong..” You know now I’m wondering if i’ve really changed at all. Maybe if I hadn’t traveled before it would be different. This was a trip of “firsts” for a lot of people. First time on an airplane, first time out of the country, first encounter with dire poverty, first time traveling alone, etc. etc. I think I’ve been desensitized to some things but I also think sometimes I don’t abandon myself fully and let myself revel in the experience.

I just remembered how in summer i would sometimes just be really down. Not depressed but just sad. I forgot what it was like to be excited and happy about life. Maybe that’s what’s changed in me. I’ve realized that I have the capacity to not only be happy but to love. I think i was selfish with my love before.

Everybody has s story. I honestly do believe (well I want to believe) that people are inherently good. I heard stories about obnoxious people on SAS but I feel like I never met them. Actually, I think I maybe too optimistic about things like that, and it’s not necessarily a good thing. Ever since I got off the ship I’ve been feeling a little apathetic and distant from everyone. I’ve put up that wall again. I can’t remember what I was like before. That’s the hardest part. How do I digest the most amazing 3 months of my life? How do I take this wealth of experiences and apply it to life? Maybe I’m being pretentious…maybe I’d like to think that I’ve changed but I really haven’t.

December 12th, 2005

We’re on our way to LA now. I’m surprised at how I’ve so easily reverted back to this materialistic life. What does that say about me? I am definitely less inclined to buy expensive things or pay exorbitant prices for food but I was like that before. Actually, now that I think about it I was pretty stingy before. But this consumer culture of ours doesn’t bother me as much as I though it would.

I feel like everyone expects me to be the same person that left on August 30th. Only I know that I’m not. The worst part is that I can’t even explain how.

December 13th, 2005

Today we went to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. It was extremely well-done and probably one of the most heart-wrenching museums I’ve ever visited ( the Holocaust Museum in DC being the only other contender). They had an amazing exhibit on the Holocaust and at 3pm they had a speaker session with a survivor. My goodness, hearing her story was hard enough but when she pulled up her sleeve to show her tattoo from Auschwitz it really hit me. She was such a strong and wonderful woman… all I wanted to was give her a hug and thank her for having the strength to share her story. It’s such a shame that mankind doesn’t learn from its mistakes. Genocides have continued to occur all over the world and all we can do is shake our heads and say “what a shame…haven’t we learned anything?” But what are we supposed to do?

Sometimes I wonder if we realize how blessed we are to live such a priveleged life. If you are reading this then you obviously have access to a computer, and you most likely have a roof over your head while you are reading this, your stomach is probably full, and you probably have a cell phone on your person filled with the numbers of people you love and who love you. We lead a life of luxury, independence, and more importantly freedom.

December 14th, 2005

One of my biggest and most negatively influential vices is jealousy. I don’t know why I get so jealous but I do and it’s very difficult for me to block it out. Luckily, my jealousy usually never manifests itself into my daily acionts but it’s always in my thoughts. I don’t know what it is that makes me such a jealous person…low self-esteem maybe?

What’s wrong with me? Why am I being so introspective? Why did I start questioning myself all of a sudden? Maybe it would be better if I just let things be the way they are. That would certainly save me a lot of grief.

You know what else is weird? Sometiems I just don’t feel like talking about SAS. My stories come out sporadically when something trigger it but when people ask me about something specifically sometimes I just don’t feel like talking about it. I don’t even know why. I thought I would jump at any and every chance to share my experiences but right now I am content to keep them to myself. People tell me that they ” can’t wait to hear all about it” but where do I start?

I also think that I’m being too dramatic about some of this. If I had gone straight home from San Diego instead of having 10 days to moor over everything…I think I would be reacting a lot differently. I know as soon as I get home I’m going to throw myself back into it and now I’m kind of happy about it. I miss home, I miss normacly, I miss my friends. I miss playing antakshari in the car on the way to nowhere. I miss peppering my conversations with Gujerati that doesn’t even make sense…

December 19th, 2005

Home. I am finally HOME after 3 and a half months of being away and it is a strange feeling. Good, bad, I don’t know. It was weird sleeping in my own bed last night and instead of comforting it was a bit unsettling. I am SO excited to see everyone at CP today though. Enough for now. There is laundry to be done.

November 25th, 2005

So I’m sitting at the Open Mic right now ( except it’s really called the Turkey Coma Coffee House because today is Thanksgiving and everyone is so full and lethargic from dinner) I know I already posted for today but obviously the day isn’t over yet so I guess I’ll just add this on to my next update. Right now Brian and a girl are singing, they just finished singing Collide-Howie Day. Brian has such an amazing voice- I feel like he’s one of those people who is going to be famous one day. So yesterday Aparna, Jess, and I were talking about the different “cliques” that have popped up on this ship that I didn’t even notice until they mentioned it. There are the “frat-tastics” who are the stereotypical frat guys and sorority girls, “God-squad” which consists of the people in IMPACT the Christian fellowship group, the ‘”plastics” who spend money like water, Team Mexico which is pretty self-explanatory, and there were some others but I can’t remember. But you know what, it doesn’t really matter. Everyone is an individual before you can lump them together in a group. You shouldn’t be stereotyped because of who you hang out with.

So today was spent writing and writing and writing. I cranked out 3 papers in 2 days. Right now it’s quantity not quality…lol. I still have a huge film paper to write and a short Food paper.

I was just looking at some Dean’s Memo’s quotes so here are some of my favorites:

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page. – St. Augustine

The journey, not the arrival, matters. – T. S. Eliot

If you look like your passport photo, you’re too ill to travel. – Will Kommen

Wherever you go, you will receive impressions of the places you see and the people you meet. Do not forget that those people will receive impressions of you. – Broughton Waddy & Ralph Townley

Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own countrymen, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with traveled bodies, but untravelled minds. – Caleb

I still feel like if I’m sitting idle I’m wasting time. I’m sitting here writing this nonsense and I feel as if I should be out doing something; getting people to sign the thank you cards for salsa, finding Prof. Michalak to talk about my paper, getting people to write in my address book, I don’t know…just something. Well I have salsa in 20 minutes so I guess that’s something. You know what I feel like doing right now actually? Playing SNAKE. haha that’s right! I hope my new phone doesn’t have it though…it really was a distraction. I would play it whenever and wherever I got the chance. Oh yeah, heads up I have a new number because we switched providers and they wouldn’t port my number. So if you get a call from me in a few weeks it will be from an unknown number.

So tonight was the last pub night. I really wasn’t feeling it but I went up for a bit anyways just so see what was going on. It was fun I guess but I was in sweats and my RC shirt so I wasn’t really feeling cute enough to dance up a storm. Too bad when I went up there people thought I was drunk…for some reason people tend to think I’m drunk a lot. I think it’s because I feed off of other people’s energy perhaps. Now I’m back in the room bedazzling thank you cards and notes but I should really be studying for global studies. Oh yeah, bad news. My back started hurting again. It was seriously fine for this WHOLE trip (knock on wood) but now it started hurting again. I think I’m allergic to home. Whit came over today to write in my address book and me in hers and we both just got so emotional it was crazy. I really don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when I get home. I feel like I’m going to be lonely. Not that I don’t miss it but I am in my element here, I truly am. It’s hard to explain. I love it at home and I miss everyone and everything but there’s just something special about this that I’m going to miss terribly.

November 26th, 2005

Never again will I complain about daylight savings time. Losing 1 hour? Psssh. We will have lost 24 hours in the course of 3 months. (We have November 29th twice to make up for it). We had to set our clocks ahead last night and the night before so I don’t think I’m caught up yet…I definitely almost missed class this morning and I would have slept right through it if Mark didn’t call me and if Moriah didn’t remember my room number. Eeks. Luckily, Prof. O’Brien is really nice and didn’t mind me walking in 20 minutes late! For some reason he let us out 30 minutes early today so I had ample time to shower and get ready. If there’s one thing I strongly dislike (I’m really trying to phase the word hate out of my vocabulary…along with “shut up”) is not showering in the morning and being groggy.

You know what’s strange? I’ve been having flashbacks of home lately. It’s not that I’ve forgotten about it but small things pop into my head that I just haven’t thought about for a LONG time. It’s just things that cross my mind that haven’t for 3 months. Last night, for example, I was thinking about Columbia Mall and actually going into a mall where I could read all the signs, knew where things were, and didn’t need to bargain. Today I was thinking about Giant and lately I’ve been thinking about GARBA. IND Holi Garba- . I’m going through withdrawal since I missed Navratri. Oh man I remember last year though, we were so out of shape in the spring so we were all so SORE the next morning. All of a sudden shopping for SAS seems like such a LONG time ago. I remember going to Arundel Mills, and Columbia Mall and Target in a last ditch effort to get random last minute items and it honestly seems like years ago. Weird.

Man today was such a busy day. Film class ended at like 6:50 and I had salsa at 7 so I scarfed down some dinner and ran downstairs to get my heels and go to practice. Right at 8pm I had to go to the Global Nomads community college because they wanted us to say a few words about India. And to top it all of I have a bad cold now. I think it’s this drastic change in temperature we’ve been facing…hot, cold, hot, cold. Ugggh. Worst time to have a cold possible. aaah ok time to read for global studies.

“Rich people get HIV, poor people get AIDS” Isn’t that interesting? Chris (glomads) told us that today at community college. He said that it really stuck out in his mind when a girl said that to him in South Africa. Rich people can afford anti retro viral drugs and poor people can’t.

So it’s 1:30 am and I’m not tired but I know I should sleep. For some reason I’m not tired and I’m in a really strange mood. I think it’s one of those “I’m sick and I don’t feel like doing anything” moods. Ugh. I actually finished reading for Global Studies and then I ran around and got people to sign the cards because we’re performing in TWO DAYS. Aah! Then I got caught up talking to Brandon which was fun but we were both so tired and out of it…that always makes for interesting conversation. Ok it’s bedtime.

November 27th, 2005

Where does time go on this ship? Oh yeah, that’s right we lose an hour every day! However, when we cross the International Date Line we repeat November 29th to make up for all this lost time. A strange concept isn’t it? So I’m sitting here trying to write my film paper and I just can’t concentrate. I just keep getting emotional about leaving, and I have a terrible headache from this cold, the Ambassador’s Ball is tomorrow, and our salsa performance is the day after that, and then the day after that is our global studies exam. I HAVE to finish my film paper today otherwise I’m going to be super stressed out at the Ambassador’s Ball.

I’m starting to miss home now. I think I’m just missing normalcy though. It’s going to be so weird to go home and have winter break and NOTHING looming over my head. All year it was SAS stuff plus classes. In summer it was SAS and summer classes. And now what? I know I’ll come up with something…or maybe I’ll make a really nice scrapbook. haha we’ll see. Ok dinner, salsa, PAPER WRITING TIME forrreal.

I can’t decide if I should be stressed out or apathetic because I can’t really find any middle ground. I have an incredible amount of work to do but part of me just wants to chill out. Maybe after salsa is over I’ll be able to relax a little bit more. But it’s SO much fun! I wish you guys could see it. Don’t worry I’ll have video. Can you believe it? Me, doing salsa? Anyways, I really do miss home now. I keep reminiscing about random things that just seem so faraway and I wonder how it’s going to be to go back. I know it seems like I’ve been gone for such a short time but I’m so far removed from anything and everyone that I know I will face reverse culture shock. I can’t wait to see you all though! Some words of advice to those who are reading my journal- please refrain from asking the following questions:

1) How was your trip?
There is no way I can reduce this experience to just one word. However, my standard response to this question will take one of the following forms: amazing, phenomenal, life-changing, fabulous, incredible, unbelievable….haha just know that I’m compromising to give you this one word answer
2) What was your favorite country?
Please don’t make me choose. Each country was different in it’s own way and my experiences were so varied that it is hard to compare.

I only have 8 internet minutes left so I won’t be responding to many emails. Mom- if you have something important to tell me please send it in ONE email because opening up multiple ones takes up too much internet time. Also, just a reminder that you have to register for TWO THINGS. 1) Meeting the ship on the 7th (register you and dad) and 2) seeing the ship on the 8th ( register all 3 of us)

I’m sorry I will be out of contact for the next few weeks but I will be back home on December 18th, just in time for Christmas!

Oh yeah, I meant to mention earlier that I’ve been having Raas Chaos deja vu lately. This whole salsa performance reminds me of Raas Chaos because I’m rushing from class to meals to practice back to my room to grab my heels and then back to practice. You get the picture. But just the run-around, exhaustion, and impending work load reminds me so much of RC. Oh yeah, and the FUN. I was sitting up in the piano lounge tonight and whenever anyone from the salsa team would walk by we’d smile at each other with the “Oh my goodness, I’m so exhausted but I have so much work to catch up on so I’m going to be up forever” look. It’s great. haha

November 28th, 2005

So I woke up this morning (well I kind of went to sleep this morning….at 4:30am) and my back, stomach, and arms are sore. Also, I have bruises on my upper arms from our last salsa move. Wow I just fell fast asleep for over an hour in Global Studies. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I also had the strangest dream. In my dream, we were on the ship and it was our first day in some port ( I couldn’t figure out where it was…Narnia perhaps?). I was looking of one of the big windows and Mark comes up behind me ( he’s this kid in my Lit class and I think he was in my dream because I saw him this morning) and we see these HUGE turtles and I got really excited. The turtles were seriously like 5 times the size of a normal person and they are just chillin on the rocks near the ocean. Then I had a dream that Jess sat on my computer, it broke, and I lost all my pictures. I was FREAKING out in my dream and I honestly woke up almost crying. Lunch was gross today so I just ate PBJ and now I’m sitting in Grover’s room and we’re watching Tokyo Story for our film class. I finished my film paper last night and I embellished on my Food Paper today because I don’t have enough internet minutes to do any research on noni juice. I just talked more about obentos and made up some stuff. Oh well. It feels so good to get work done. Now I just have to finalize the papers and study hard-core for Global Studies. I need a 100% on the final to get an A in the class but I can get as low as a 50% to maintain a B. I think I’ll just aim for the B. Grades don’t transfer- just credits.

So- did anyone get a chance to check out that MTVU thing? It was supposed to air on Nov 28th at noon on MTVU and it’s going to be streaming online. If you can’t find it- google Global Nomads, India, MTVU, HIV/AIDS. Something like that? I honestly have NO idea what it looks like so if it looks stupid don’t tell me! haha

Guess what! We’re getting to Hawaii a day earlier which means we have a night and a whole day there instead of just 12 hours. I’m excited but I know it just means 1 extra night for everyone to get drunk. I’m kind of glad the drinking age is 21 in Hawaii…maybe that’ll help a little bit. The Ambassador’s Ball is tonight and so many people snuck alcohol on the ship from Japan so I know there will be a LOT of drunk people. I’ve heard so many people say that they ” can’t possibly go to this kind of thing sober”. I swear I’m not trying to sound obnoxious but why can’t people have sober fun? It boggles my mind. Social drinking and drinking in moderation is one thing. But drinking to get drunk and thinking you need to drink to have fun is another. Ok I promised I wouldn’t do this again. Sorry Sorry. If you haven’t noticed, these past few journal entries are complete streams of consciousness. There’s no rhyme or reason to what I’m writing. Whenever I pick up my laptop and feel like writing something I do. haha

The Ambassador’s Ball was SO much fun. I got ready with Aparna and Mara after film class and we basically lazed around for a little bit until we realized that we didn’t have that much time left to get ready! Aparna Chi’d my hair and put it up but it didn’t stay like that for too long. We shared jewelry and make up and actually got ready pretty fast. I went up to the union at 6pm because there was a slide show and preview of the voyage DVD. I wasn’t in much of the DVD- only in the background but there were a couple pictures of me. Two from the talent show- one with the guys and one ALL BY MYSELF. Eeks! There were two pictures from Lantau Island and one of them was awesome- it was me burning incense and looking through this window type thing. Chris is a really good photographer. The other picture was a group picture from the night we left Hong Kong. They were all pretty good actually. I think I might want to buy some of them! Anyways, after all that we had a little bit of time to take pictures and such before dinner. It seriously felt like prom/hc/spring banquet. haha everyone was dressed up SO nicely and since a lot of guys got suits made in Vietnam they were happy to show off their new stuff! I was such a charity case…I wore Rachel’s dress and Mara’s earrings but the dress fit me well. Dinner was good but I’ll write more tomorrow. All in all SUCH a fun night. I won’t post pictures now but once I get home I will. Arite I have to finish up my papers and go to sleep!

Hark, your hair is dark

“America should be part of Mexico. We used to own you guys.” -Alberto, Team Mexico

November 29th, 2005 ( the first one)

I had plans to sleep pretty early last night but when I went up to the computer lab to print my paper I saw Alberto and decided to hang out with him and Mishca instead. I went down to Alberto’s room to steal some of his pictures and ended up staying there till 4:30am watching Elf and talking about who knows what. It was fun but I was so exhausted. Sleep is overrated though, especially when we have limited time on the ship to hang out with people. Ok so let me finish writing about last night. At our dinner table it was Me, Mandee, Carri, Amy, Shane, and Lyn. We got a 5 course meal and a glass of champagne. The first course was a shrimp cocktail (yummm?) but later they brought out this artichoke thing for me that was pretty good. The next course was French Onion Soup which I also couldn’t eat because as far as I know French Onion Soup is always made with beef/chicken broth. The next course was Caesar Salad and caeser dressing has anchovies so I asked them if I could have another dressing. He brought some out for me so that was nice. My main entree was lasagna ( the choice was between chicken, steak, and lasagna) and it was ok, not that great. Sony walked by later and told us that the vegetarian entree for regular dinner was the same lasagna. Great. haha They came around and poured us champagne for a toast. I had a sip or two and then gave it to Shane. Dinner was fun but it was more fun running around taking pictures/video of everyone. Oh yeah, it was Amy’s birthday so we made everyone sing! What a great day to have your birthday. The only day that’s better is November 29th because you get to celebrate it twice legitimately! Ok so after dinner we took more pictures and then headed up to the dance which was in the Union. It was SO crowded. They moved the first row of chairs out but it was still a small space for so many people. Not to mention that the ship was rocking like crazy last night so we were all trying to dance but we were falling all over ourselves and each other. It was fun though. The music they played was pretty good- too many slow songs though! Ooh yeah so later there was a dessert bar which was probably the fanciest most elaborate display of dessert I’ve ever seen. They had all kinds of cake, chocolate, pastries, tarts, mmm. They also made these amazing sculptures from fruits, chocolate, and some other ingredients. The line for dessert was way too long though so I just grabbed an orange and some ice water because I was so dehydrated. I just went up and down the line talking to people…I REALLY don’t need dessert. In all honesty, I think I’ve gained about 10 pounds on this trip. I look at pictures from before the voyage and pictures of me now and my face has um filled out quite nicely. Yeah, I guess that’s what I get for eating starchy foods and not working out on the ship. Oh well, whatever. 🙂 Life is good.

Oh man, I’m sitting in Global Studies right now trying to pay attention to Prof. Jacobs but the ship is rocking and it gives me such a bad headache in addition to nausea. I guess I should put my seasickness bands back on. I was doing so well without them though! Ugh.

Aaah! Salsa tonight was AWESOME. We were the intermission act of the Improv Show which was actually really really funny. I think we looked pretty good. Too bad I was in front and I honestly have the worst balance EVER. Thank goodness Adrian is an amazing dance partner and he’s really steady and on beat all the time. I felt a little not myself today because I had to borrow Alicia’s yellow shirt and it was ummm a bit small on me! It’s almost 4:30am because we had to set our clocks forward an hour AGAIN. Uggh I’m exhausted but I’m wondering what the point is to go to sleep because I just have to wake up for breakfast at 7:00am! Eeks. Ooh but tomorrow is the day that the people who won the “decide the menu” from the SOS auction got to pick the menu. I’m hoping for waffles, tater tots, chocolate chip pancakes, chocolate milk, really just any of the above. Ok I have to read for Lit and then go to “sleep” which really means watch Sex and the City with the girls.

November 29th (the second one), 2005

Uggggggggh. I’m so MAD at myself right now. Somehow I slept through my 8am class and Global Studies this morning! I really thought I set the alarm for 7am but I set it for 7pm. Mark and Moriah tried to call me but our phone is broken because Pete ripped the cord out of the wall by the mistake. Liz and Rachel knocked on the door but Jess and I were so fast asleep that we didn’t hear. The forces were against me today. I’m so angry because today was the last A day of classes and I MISSED it. Ok I really have to get over it, what’s done is done. People skip class every day…ok I’m over it. Time to study for global studies. I think I might be preoccupied with looking for whales because the voice told us to be on the lookout for them.

We watched a great movie today in Film Class (finally!). It was called Tampopo and it was hilarious. I definitely suggest it to everyone. After class we went to dinner and it was like Thanksgiving dinner all over again because it was me, Kyle, Daniel, Shane, and Lyn. Today was Taco Day so we were probably equally as full afterward (added bonus: BRIE!). Dinner was a lot of fun…I love those boys so much. They are so much fun to be around and our conversations are always interesting. Granted I usually don’t have much to contribute but I feel like I learn so much just by listening. We sat around at dinner for awhile (entirely too long for people who have an exam tomorrow) and then we headed over to Pre-Port for Hawaii. They just talked about basic logistics and stuff. The Bering Sea is getting off the ship 6th- randomly picked out of a hat. Haha oh well it doesn’t even matter! After pre-port I went to Jed’s Community College on leading alternative lifestyles but I’ll write about that later. We had global studies exam review after that and it was pretty helpful but I’m not even going to aim for the A anymore because I need a 100% to get an A and that’s honestly not happening. I didn’t really start studying until about half an hour ago and it’s now 2am. I was down in Daniel and Ben’s room for awhile because Daniel needed some notes so while we were figuring that out we were just talking and he had some more riddles for me. 🙂 I FINALLY came back up to my room and then went next door to study a bit with them. That was actually helpful because Glenn cleared up the globalization and anti-gobalization stuff for me( in the Swedish accent of course). I just downloaded all the lectures off the public folder and while I was waiting for them to download I was browsing around the public folder and found a list of possible convocation speakers. Much to my surprise I had one vote! Who on earth would vote for me? The most non-eloquent, flustered public speaker ever. I really honestly and truly was surprised. There were only 26 students out of 680 some and I was one of them? Strange. I’m not going to get it because I only had vote and Emanuel had something like 8 lol. Ok I really need to be studying right now. Hawaii tomorrow!

“Aparna- you’re an undercover a$$hole” -Brandon

December 1st, 2005

So yesterday was…interesting. I don’t know if I would call it fun. Me, Lindsay, Natalie, Carri, Drea, and Roy got off the ship around 8:30- about an hour after the ship cleared. We took a taxi to Waikiki and just wandered around for a good long time. We went to the ABC store to get some provisions (which for me meant gummy bears). It’s interesting because this is the first country where the drinking age is 21. It’s interesting. Natalie and I were the only ones who were under 21 (because Lindsay just had her birthday a few days ago). We went to Coldstone to get some ice cream but I wasn’t feeling it. Drea and just wanted some cheese fries or something equally greasy. We didn’t find anything but it’s probably better that way! After that we just kind of walked aimlessly and ended up meeting a guy who was in the Army and stationed in Oahu. I don’t know how we always manage to find these military people. He was nice I guess, actually no he was kind of obnoxious and strange. Honestly, I kind of wish we hadn’t met him. Oh well. We walked to the beach and just sat around for a good long time which was nice. Carri, Drea, and I were talking about the end of the voyage and its implications. Drea said something that was really interesting – she said that it was easy to distinguish between the soph/junior and senior crowd on the ship because the younger people are all about meeting as many people as possible and the older would rather have a few life-long friend. I wish I could have the best of both worlds! I guess that’s true though. I honestly LOVE meeting and getting to know new people. It doesn’t matter if we don’t hang out all the time everyone has something interesting about them to contribute and I think whenever you meet new people you inevitably learn something about yourself whether it is how you deal with people or what personality traits really appeal to you or tick you off. I don’t know, to some if may seem I’m playing the “numbers” game to see how many people I can acquaint myself with but that’s really not it all. I don’t know how I can explain it any differently. Carri said to me yesterday that I should be glad that I met so many people but is it true that my chance for lifelong friends suffers as a result? Is it bad to be restless in friendships as well as life? There’s something I need to re-examine about myself.

So we finally got up and Brad drove us around for awhile. We ended up finding SASers at this bar called Tsunami’s. The guy said he would let me in if I promised I wouldn’t drink. Not a problem. The problem is that he wanted to keep my ID with him just in case. I wasn’t too comfortable with that but I wanted to find Lindsay and Roy so I went in for like 5 minutes. they weren’t inside so we came out and someone told us that Shane was really drunk in the bar next door so Carri and I went to look for him. Indeed he was ridiculously drunk so we got a cab and took him home. Getting him into bed was such a chore and I was so worried about him. I took his ID and checked up on him before I went to sleep. Ugh. I’m honestly so sick of it but it’s nobody’s fault but my own. I have conflicting interests. I like going out and going clubbing, dancing, etc. but that usually goes hand in hand with drinking and I guess I have to choose the lesser of two evils. That’s one reason I have so much respect for people like Daniel, Emanuel, Brandon, Pete, Melissa, Angelo etc.- I dont think I’ve ever seen them drinking or even intoxicated in the least bit and they still have just as much fun (maybe more lol) as everyone else. Brandon was in my room the other day and I realized that he is probably one of my favorite people on the ship. It’s funny how you just click with some people and it’s unfortunate when you don’t realize that earlier. Oh well, no regrets. He had an interesting theory that some people just have “wholesome” faces and that I am one of those people. lol

Oh yeah, I forgot to write about this Tanya Storch drama. In a nutshell, she was slightly intoxicated at the Ambassador’s ball and danced around in only a skimpy bikini top and pants.( I could post pictures but I really don’t want to). She was dirty dancing and allegedly made out with 2 male students and 2 female student. She grabbed a student innapropriately and had to be escorted off the dance floor. Repercussions? Either she would have to leave in Hawaii or be on lockdown until San Diego she chose to leave the ship in Hawaii. Some people think that SAS is being too strict but I fully support them in their actions. What she did was over the line, completely uncalled for and not at all proper conduct for a professor regardless of the situation. Imagine if it was a male professor who did the same thing- he would probably be thrown overbpard in the middle pf the ocean! Don’t get me wrong, Tanya Storch is a cool lady (reminds me SO much of Prof. Trelawney from Harry Potter) but there are boundaries and no matter what “spiritual state” you claim to be in you are still required to adhere to some standards. Ok enough of that.

I woke up this morning at 8:30am and ran up to breakfast. I had tentative plans with Jimmy and Moriah to go to Pearl Harbor and I left them notes on their doors lat night but when I woke up this morning the notes were still there so I don’t think they came back to their rooms or they just didn’t read them. I decided to go to the beach with Glenn, Kim, and Sarah instead. I need a relaxing day before this stressful stretch. I do want to see Pearl Harbor but I’m not going to stress about it. I”m perfectly fine with sitting on the beach all day- reading and writing my goodbye notes. It is so weird being back in the states. It’s kind of like Mauritius being diet-India, this is diet-US. We were driving to Waikiki yesterday and saw all these stores that we hadn’t seen in such a long time- CompUsa, Office Max, Macy’s, Sears, etc. It was weird but not in a good way for some reason. I don’t want to go back. Everyone started getting cell phone reception in the middle of the day and that’s basically what everyone did for the rest of the day- even during dinner! I forgot how socially debilitating cell phones can be. Anyways, yesterday at dinner we celebrated Melissa’s birthday- it was great! Shoshana and Janny decorated a corner of the dining room with streamers and stuff. We sang happy birthday to her in a couple languages ( English, Spanish, Arabic). It was fun. Right now I’m sitting on the beach in Waikiki with Kim and Glenn and we just finished playing volleyball with some random people lol. The weather is GORGEOUS.

Today was our last time swiping on the boat…and now begins the chapter of “lasts”…

December 7th, 2005

We are home? We docked in San Diego this morning and it was bittersweet to say the least. These past couple days have been some of the most emotionally and physically draining days of my life. The first day after Hawaii was study day. I meant to wake up at 8am but I ended up sleeping until noon and then studying hard core the rest of the day. I didn’t really journal all this week so I don’t remember details lol. What I DO remember however was our Travel Lit study session with me, Moriah, Mark, Martina, David, and Katie. It was probably one of the funnest nights I’ve had on the ship. We had to memorize 35 some authors, their works and it’s significance. Oh man we made up some insane memory devices. ( It paid off because I got an A in Travel Lit). For example, Worsworth wrote “At Rome” and it was about travel expectations and disappointments…so was it “worth it?”. Fermor wrote ” A Time of Gifts” which was about a guy who all of a sudden has an epiphany and wants to go backpacking…so you wear a backpack on your rear end which is firm (“ferm” like “Fermor”). Byron wrote Road to Oxiana because X comes before Y which is the second letter in the words. Freya Stark wrote “valley of the assassins”…she was stark naked in a valley. VS Naipaul wrote something about alcohol because they rhymes. Mark Twain wrote “Innocents Abroad” so if you were innocent and abroad you wouldn’t know that Samuel Clemens was his real name. Moriah Montague likes bath houses. Caminha “come in here” little boys. I don’t remember the rest but believe me they were hilarious. We seriously went through all 35 and made up things for each. Mark and I studied for awhile afterward forreal and then it was snack time. Snack time today was a full breakfast because it was study day so they expected people to be up late. It was actually really good but the line was SO long. We took our books and studied in line. I finally went to sleep around 2am after writing my goodbye notes.

So my Lit Final went really well. The next day I studied for Anthro. of Food all dayyy- writing my papers and studying for ID’s. I ended up getting an A in Food too- thank goodness. Oh, and I got an A- in Film. I don’t know how that worked out but whatever. So all A’s and a B in Global Studies. I’m happy. 🙂 Actually, I think I was happier to be DONE with classes. Best feeling in the world.

The next day we had salsa practice because we performed again after pre-port. We also had our last sea meeting and Michael got a cake for us that said “Awoo!! The Bearing Sea. I love it. I love it. I love it. Awoo!! Eating baby seals and putting the “Bear” in “Bearing Sea” since August 2005″ Afterwards we had the “Last Chance Dance” which was actually a LOT of fun. There weren’t that many people up there because it wasn’t a pub night but whatever. We did the electric slide so my night was made. 🙂 Me, Glenn, Daniel, David, Kim, Tyler, and Katie played Trivial Pursuit tonight and we lost terribly but it was fun. I love playing TP because I feel like I absorb information. Granted, the game makes me feel so stupid because I honestly don’t know anything but I feel like I’m learning. I’m just there for moral support. lol. These guys have such a wealth of information tucked away somewhere and they serisouly know every question or can reason it out. I think Daniel and I just had bad luck with rolling the dice and getting random random questions. After TP we went down to the Dafni suite and watched ” Do the Right Thing” – a Spike Lee movie that was really good but I fell asleep at the end so I want to go home and watch it again. After the movie we just sat around and talked and all of a sudden it was 7am ( it didn’t help that we had to advance an hour that night). We just went up to breakfast and half watched the sunrise. After breakfast we all went to sleep and I didn’t wake up until noon ( it was Taco Day!) I’m getting my days mixed up but in the remaining days I packed, we played another game of Trivial Pursuit that we WON, performed salsa again because a lot of people didn’t get to see it the first time, and had convocation. Convocation was for people who were graduating from college and this was their last semester. The speakers at convocation were EXCELLENT. They were Yas ( RD), Willie ( adult passenger), Prof. Penn ( staff), Emanuel and Ashley Boone. I’ve never heard such a succession of excellent speeches. I was floored. The a capella group performed too and they were really good. After convocation I just wandered around being nostalgic and getting people’s information. I was debating whether I should go to sleep or not and I decided against it so Aparna and I just stayed up all night and talked. We went outside at 6am to see the sunrise and it was probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We got there early so we were just standing at the front of the ship listening to random music on her ipod ( Landslide, Sweetest Goodbye, Anytime You Need a Friend, and of course the aarti). We were being pretty sappy but it’s just what I needed. I hadn’t really cried until that afternoon when she gave me a letter that she wrote and then it sunk in. After that I was basically on the verge of tears until I got off the ship the next day. lol So after sunrise we got a quick breakfast and then showered and got ready for the looong day ahead of us. I ran out on deck to see the ship pull into port and saw mom right away because she was wearing her bright pink shirt. I wouldn’t have started crying but I could see she was crying so that was the end for me. It was SO exciting to see all these parents jumping up and down with signs and balloons and flowers…wow. It was frustrating though because we knew we couldn’t get off the ship yet. The Bering Sea was 7th off the ship so I had LONG time to wait. I went downstairs and took a quick nap because I was about to fall asleep standing up. It was a much-needed power nap. I woke up when the voice came on to say that the Agean Sea could disembark. I think that’s when it honestly and truly hit me. Before I would say bye to people and then run into them at breakfast or just in the hallway or something. Now people were actually getting off the ship and I knew I would never see any of them again. I ran up to Purser’s Square to say my final goodbyes and that seriously became like the danger zone for me. I couldn’t help but cry. Oh man I shouldn’t start this again- I’ll start crying now! They kept calling seas to leave and it just kept getting harder and harder. When they called the Arabian Sea and I had to say goodbye to Shane and David- that was terrible. It was FINALLY time for the Bering Sea to get off…but you know what I really didn’t want to. As excited as I was to see my parents and to be home, I never realized how much I loved the ship and its ambiance. I think I made it easier for myself by saying that I would be coming back the next day for a tour with my parents. So we walked down the gangway for the last time as passengers (tomorrow we would be registered guests), found our luggage in all of the mess, and just walked out to our parents. No customs officials, no baggage check, nothing. The end. Saying goodbye to Jess wasn’t that bad because I knew she was going to be in DC in the spring. Ok so it was kind of chaotic because of all the parents, kids, luggage, etc. so we just left and went to the hotel. I dropped my suitcases, we got a quick dinner and then i went to sleep at 7pm. I was SO incredibly exhausted I was about to fall asleep at dinner. I’m not going to journal my California trip because I don’t really want to…lol. I’m just writing my reflections on the trip and being back in the states so here goes (I’m typing up what I journaled from the car):

December 10, 2005

Natalie’s poem

This is a beautiful poem my friend Natalie wrote. It brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.
Natalie- hope you don’t mind me posting your poem. I’m trying to make you famous. Love you and miss you SO much!

By Natalie Lou Ritter

Forgive me, Mom, I’m Not the Same
I think you knew that I would change
I couldn’t stay so long at sea
And not come home a different me.

I’ve been to the Mekong; the Amazon, too
The things that I’ve done: if only you knew.
I’ve paraglided in the Andes Mountains
Said a prayer at Hiroshima fountains
I’ve jumped off of cliffs down river gorges
And from the Ganges saw burning corpses
I’ve seen the Taj; Climbed the Great Wall
I’ve Jumped Out of Planes; I’ve done it All
Climbed to the Golden Rock in Myanmar
I Don’t think I ever have climbed that far.
Monasteries, Pagodas, Temples and Shrines
Horseback riding in Stellenbosch; sampling wines
I dove with sharks and jumped off a bridge
I Forced Myself to Really Live.

Sure, All these things can be relayed
In the photo albums that’ll be displayed
But to convey all this will be demanding—
Experience is Nothing Without Understanding.

So Forgive me, Mom, if I Start To Cry
For all of the things I really can’t describe:
Walking next to dead bodies in the road
Not reaching out to a child’s hand to hold.
The people in poverty and those afraid to speak
For fear if they do, they’ll be in jail the next week
Because their government has such a watchful eye.
All the people with AIDs , getting ready to die.
The beggars in India who walk on their hands
Because they’re diseased and unable to stand
And the people in shacks who sleep inches apart
Offer only a smile and it rips out my heart

I’ve seen beauty and devastation
I’ve felt sorrow; I’ve felt elation
I’ve seen birth and I’ve felt death;
Forgive me, Mom, but what is left?

So if you could, Mom, just give me time
When I come home, let me unwind
I need a moment to just. Stand. Still.
Please understand (I’m sure you will)

I couldn’t stay so long at sea
And not come home a different me
So long as I change, the world changes, too
But be proud, Mom, because I came from you.

December 9, 2005

A quick update:
Here are some new pictures and I have been typing a journal entry but it’s not edited/finished yet so I am going to cop out and just paste my “final reflection” essay for my Lit class. It’s really not good but it’s better than nothing I guess. Yes, I know some of the pictures are ridiculously tiny but I resized them incorrectly and I will fix them tomorrow.
Love to all- hoping you guys get a snow day tomorrow!!
Can’t wait to be HOME!

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An old picture from Ho Chi Minh City of me and Jess on motorcycles…a little bit frightened as you can see.

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The Captain and I at the Ambassador’s Ball (kind of like prom/homecoming)

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Me and the SS boys at the ball (too bad Brandon’s eyes are closed)

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Jess, Pete, Melissa, and I at the ball

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SALSA Practice- our ending position

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Salsa- the night of the performance

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Natalie, me, Carri

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SALSA Team!!! or Jimmie’s Team as we like to call it

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Last Chance Dance- me and Aparna

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first night in hawaii- Carri,Natalie, Drea, me, Lindsay and Roy

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Waikiki Beach

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Tranquil Water from my porthole

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Dean Tymitz and I on the last day

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me and Roy at our last dinner (before they put cake on Nicole!)

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Luggage. Need I say more.

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Brian- keep in mind the gangway was on 5. It was HILARIOUS to see people with all of their bags trying to walk off the ship.

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I really was that sad.

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Sunrise on our last day. I watched it with Aparna- listening to random songs like Sweetest Goodbye, Landslide, and the aarti. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

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MY PARENTS!! waiting for me in san diego- what a day.

Aparna Kothary
Literature of Travel
One Final Reflection

As Theroux heads home after four months of travel he arrives at some perceptive conclusions about both himself and the travel writing genre. Similarly, as our voyage comes to its end we are faced with the same questions we asked ourselves in the beginning except now we expect to have arrived at an answer. What is my purpose in life? What is my calling? Where is my place in the grandeur of this world? What can I do to better serve humanity? We began this voyage with such introspective questions in hopes of coming across the answers somewhere along the voyage. Unfortunately, it did not cross our minds that perhaps we would not be able to be as reflective as we had hoped. After all, we still had classes, exams, papers, friends, and extracurricular activities to worry about. We also had to digest our travel experiences; an act which left us both mentally and physically exhausted.
A voyage of discovery they call it and I would have to disagree. It is more a taste of discovery. Although each country we traveled to offered such rich culture, tradition, and customs we barely had enough time to experience them fully. We wanted to leave with a good impression of the country, so whether it was subconsciously or consciously we chose to subject ourselves to the best that each country had to offer. At times, we were afraid to delve deeper into what we thought might mar our image of the country. Visiting a country for only five days is already limiting our exposure, but visiting a country for five days and only seeing the tourist sites is unfortunately inevitable and at the same time detrimental. When you are consumed with a desire to see all of the major sights it is easy to ignore the sights that are less popular, poorly advertised, and usually phenomenal. However, I strongly believe that you must be a tourist first and a traveler later. Although you can be both, you are undoubtedly compromising one or the other.
“Travelling over a long distance becomes, after three months, like tasting wine or picking at a global buffet. A place is approached, sampled, and given a mark. A visit, pausing before the next train pulls out, forbids gourmandizing, but a return is possible. So from every length itinerary a simpler one emerges…Kyoto was like a wine bottle whose label you memorize to assure some future happiness. (page 328)” This passage sums up perfectly the underlying theme of this voyage; a taste of discovery.
Chronicling our journey has also proved to be much more difficult than we imagined. How do you put in to words the emotion you felt when the HIV positive patient in India writhed and yelled out in pain when you were standing next to her bed? How can you write about the boy in the school for the blind who caressed your face with his fingers to see if you were smiling? It is equally as difficult to write about our experiences without sounding pretentious. Theroux accurately observes “that the difference between travel writing and fiction is the difference between recording what the eye sees and discovering what the imagination knows. (page 379)” The recurring theme of discovery appears again except this time referring to the discovery of the true meaning of your observations according to your own personal beliefs.
Theroux wishes that he could “reinvent the trip as fiction.” At times I wish I could embellish on my experiences to make them sound as unbelievable as people expect them to be. I have realized that the tone of travel writing greatly depends on the intended audience. The difference between a personal journal and a widely read travel journal is evident in not only the sensitivity of the divulged information but the writing style as well.
“All travel is circular…after all, the grand tour is just the inspired man’s way of heading home, (page 379)” says Theroux. Looking back on this journey I understand when he says “all journeys are return journeys. The farther one traveled, the nakeder one got, until, towards the end, ceasing to be animated by any scene, one was most oneself…(page 332)” Once the novelty of the voyage wore off, we slowly let our guard down in hopes of absorbing as much of this experience as possible. I sat down one day and read my journal from beginning to end starting with Day 1 and I was amazed to see how much I had changed and how evident the change was in my writing. Theroux says “But he does not know – how could he? – that the scenes changing in the train window from Victoria Station to Tokyo Central are nothing compared to the change in himself; and travel writing, which cannot but be droll at the outset, moves from journalism to fiction…(page 332)” We do indeed get so caught up in observing the sights that we forget to observe ourselves. Hopefully by the end of the voyage we have arrived at some realizations about ourselves that will allow us to assimilate back into the world we once knew with a newfound sense of identity, individuality, and integrity. The most monumental comparison to be made is not between countries but between the individual who embarked on this voyage three months ago and the individual who is disembarking with a new view of the world and himself.

December 1, 2005

hello from hawaii!

Hi! I’ll be home on Dec. 18th. Can’t wait to see you all. The trip is winding down with crazy finals, convocation, packing, and worst of all…saying your goodbyes.

Missing you all! but not missing the cold weather seeing as how it’s 80 degrees here in Hawaii! We are leaving tonight…back at sea for 6 days. Yay!

Love to all.

CHECK THAT OUT! Where it says ” Watch Video” – Semester at sea students..

i’m in some of it!