Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Sea Sick"

When I accepted this job many people asked me how I would fare on a ship, whether or not I would get sea sick. Some even followed this up with recommendations of how to handle sea sickness if I were to get sick. Though I lived in the Ocean State almost all of my life, my access to traveling by ship was minimal, reserved to traveling to Block Island on the Block Island Ferry, and an occasional Boat Ride, like on the Spirit of Boston or Spirit of Baltimore. However because I did not know how I would react to the motion of the ship, I prepared myself. I bought several motion sickness remedies (pills and bands). What I did not anticipate was that prior to embarking on my voyage I would actually come down with something. So as a tickle in my throat grew to a full out cough by Tuesday morning complete with chills and a slight fever, I found myself in bed for the better part of the day on my first day at sea. By the time I felt well enough to join my new colleagues for dinner, I had missed most of day one of training. I discovered that I was not the only one that was not feeling well. Several of my colleagues were sea sick and much like myself spent some or all of their day indisposed, though in a slightly different manner. While it seems that my body has adjusted to the motion of the ship, I still remain with this cold and a nagging cough which I was told by the ship’s doctor will probably get worse before it gets better. He recommended I rest and drink plenty of fluids. Which I have been trying to do.

Tomorrow we port in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we will welcome 600+ students aboard and begin our journey around the world, I am so excited yet wonder what type of sickness they may get or bring aboard with them.

Hoping for better health and calm seas


Monday, August 24, 2009

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Confucius

My journey began about a year ago when I decided that I would not continue in my position at the University of Rhode Island. I announced in a staff meeting that it would most likely be my last year in that position. With no real job prospects and a job market that was becoming increasingly hard, I was not only stepping out on a limb, I was using that fragile limb as a trampoline. Fast forward a year and here I am about to embark on the job (trip) of a lifetime. In a whirlwind of events that are a story unto itself, I was offered a position with Semester At Sea. I would be one of 10 Living Learning Coordinators aboard the 100th tour of this academic program, and we would be sailing around the world. It was as if I had written the script, and hired myself to play the leading role. The job at Semester at Sea was designed for me. However I first had to get to Virginia, where in less than 12 hours, I am to board the ship that will be my new home for the next 4 months.

One of the first people I told of my new position was an old acquaintance, Kevin, he and I have known each other since high school. We have many friends in common and share social circles, however he and I were never more than acquaintances, but I knew of his travels and his great sense of adventure. So I called him and told him about my new job as well as the countries I would be visiting. I shared with him the opportunities I would be given to travel within these countries. He was elated for me and a little jealous too. But then he said something that took me a back a bit, “let me know if you need me to drive you down to VA, I would be glad to”. Again, he and I were just social acquaintances, I couldn’t tell you anything about Kevin, other than his directory information.

Fast forward another 3 months and here we are the eve prior to our departure, I received a text from Kevin about 5pm asking what route we would be taking to get to Norfolk, VA, and responded that we would be taking the route which would have us go over and through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel System, to which he responded that he was not pleased, bridges and tunnels made him nervous. I laughed almost to tears, when I read his response, and he knew I was laughing, you see; when I first called Kevin to inform him of the opportunities I would be given to travel, he tried to convince me that I should go diving in a cage while in South Africa to see the Great White Shark in their natural habitat (he has yet to convince me) an activity he had already done, he convinced me that I should go on camel back while in Morocco, and told me of his Safari experience at Kreuger National Park in South Africa. This man, who had been cliff diving without knowing how to swim, went backpacking in Peru, and had a hyena enter his tent and sniff his face was afraid of bridges and tunnels. This gave me great ammunition as we embarked on our road trip and I teased him well and he took it like a great sport. I even took pictures of him as we crossed the bridge and as he nervously ate my “pirate’s booty”. During the trip we talked and became friends. I teased Kevin because I too was scared of crossing that bridge and going through that tunnel, because I knew that once I did there was no turning back. unbeknownst to Kevin he taught me a great lesson on this road trip, and that was that all of us are capable of great things, we challenge ourselves and at times take things to the limit. Our greatest growth however comes when we challenge ourselves to face the things that cause us our greatest fear, something like crossing a bridge or a tunnel; or leaving home. You see, as I embark on this journey, I at age 38, I am leaving home for the first time, I am leaving all my friends, family, and supports and doing this alone. I have to thank Kevin for allowing me to use. him to deflect a lot of nervous energy that I had during that trip and for making me laugh so hard (though most of the time it was at him).