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Students' Perspectives: A Day at Sea
Follow as students Jessica DePeppo and Sarah Pitts chronicle a typical day in the life of a Semester at Sea student aboard the MV Explorer by sharing their personal experiences along the way.
07:45: The seventh deck of the MV Explorer is already warm and humid, but still quiet in the early morning. We are just off the coast of Africa, but we are far enough into the Atlantic that the ocean is the only horizon. Yoga mats hang from a handrail on the port side and they are already warm from the morning sun. It’s just perfect for stretching before a work out in the gym. This is the view from the elliptical I had this morning.
08:30: I snagged a table on the sixth deck outside of the Garden lounge for a quick orange juice. This morning they had corn beef hash, potatoes, mushroom and tomato omelets, fruit, yogurt and cereal. People are studying for midterms and crowding tables with their notebooks. It’s a quick meal, post-workout, before I hit the shower and get ready for class.
09:15:With fresh coffee in hand, I head to the computer lab for some last minute preparations for my lecture class. It’s a good place to print out essays, or upload them to Moodle. Moodle is our online classroom tool on the ship. The computer lab is right next to the union, where the lecture for world literature is held, so it’s a convenient stop before class.
11:30: Mid-morning free time is life saving. It’s a perfect time to head to my cozy cabin for some quiet studying or a quick nap. I’ve started making my bed with some fabric I found in Barcelona, Spain and I think it goes nicely with all the maps I’ve collected from the voyage so far. Adding a dream catcher and some photos, my cabin feels very homey.
12:30: Lunchtime. There’s always a salad bar, soup, sandwiches and fruit. The hot food bar changes from day to day, and today we had pasta, potatoes, barbecue chicken, steamed vegetables and vegetarian tamale. Lunch is a nice social time of the day to catch up with friends. Even though we all live on the same ship, it can feel like we haven’t seen people in days. Especially with everyone’s busy schedules while on board.
14:25: My second class is my travel writing class. Most of the classes on the ship are smaller classes, which makes for more intimate class discussions. Even our professor holds conferences with each of us to talk about our growth as writers. We have closer relationships with our professors, getting to live with them and their families on the ship.
16:30: It’s a hot sunny day and makes for a great opportunity to study outside and get some Vitamin D. Hot days like these, when everyone flocks to the sun, remind me of the cold during our first trek to Russia. We all wanted to be outside and look out on the Bering Sea, but would have to bundle up as the north started to chill down in late August. Now we are getting closer and closer to the equator and I love the heat.
17:15: Sunset yoga is held on the seventh deck every night that the ship is at sea. The gentle rocking makes balancing positions challenging, but it is still relaxing just to focus on breathing the ocean air and unwind from the day. I don’t do yoga everyday, but it’s easy to hop in on any class. We have a couple student instructors who lead the class. I’m not a pro-yogi, so they help me to make sure I’m aligned correctly.
18:00: Dinner on the sixth deck and in the Garden lounge marks the time when all classes are over for the day. Everyone is relaxed and enjoying the night air that finally started to cool down. I meet friends coming either from class, studying, working out, or napping to share a meal together. It’s nice to take advantage of the view of the Atlantic. We will try to sit outside until we see the sunset.
19:00: World Cafés are opportunities for students and staff to teach something to the shipboard community. Tonight, our resident director Andrew gave a presentation on how to travel for free. He suggested tips on how to get free miles to help cover the cost of international travel. It was really helpful because I definitely have the travel bug now.
20:30: The piano lounge is a relaxed study environment. It’s a good time for me to work on group projects, read or answer emails. There is casual conversation as people work and some people make their way to the snack bar for some hot chocolate. It’s a bit of an after dinner, pre-snack lull. This makes it open for conversation and a convenient meeting place.
21:30: It’s pretty common for us to sit out in our halls to connect to Internet and study. The halls are divided into different “seas” each with a different resident director. I’m in the Bering Sea! As we start to prepare for sea Olympics, we have all gotten really close with each other. I know it’s the same for all of the other seas as well.
22:00: Late night snack time in the Garden Lounge is a very social time. The second you walk in you’re hit with a surge of energy from the crowd that has gathered. Everyone takes a break from their studies and heads in for sandwiches, cake or, my personal favorite, peanut butter and jelly. We all sit around the large round tables to talk before hitting the books with a second wind.
22:30: Games are the perfect way to wind down the night with friends. Cards Against Humanity, Poker and Rumikub are all popular. Out in the middle of the ocean our entertainment options are limited, which encourages us to have more personal connections. It’s a joke on the ship that we are real friends before being Facebook friends. I usually teeter out pretty early and head to bed. The rocking of the ship makes it hard to ever stay awake too late.