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A Student’s Perspective: Sailing The Pacific

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Recently, while sailing along the Pacific Ocean, my computer, iPhone, camera, and biological clock all thought it was January 19th, mainly because the day before was January 18th.

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However, for some bizarre reason I have yet to understand, we simply skipped the 19th, and went straight to the 20th. Everyone on the MV Explorer who’s birthday fell on the 19th simply did not get to celebrate on their special day this year, as the ship crossed through the “international date line”. This is more commonly understood as an abstract, artificial boundary in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that dictates that we now miss an entire day of our lives. On the 18th, I was 7 hours behind my home in Panama. On the 20th, I was 17 hours ahead.

One can see why I feel like I’m living in a time-travel machine, sailing into the future. During the ship’s journey from Hawaii to Japan, participants had been going to bed almost every night with an extra hour of sleep, due to the fact that we kept gaining an hour as we sailed further along into the Pacific Ocean. With the never-ending sea everywhere I look, I feel as if I’m in this parallel universe with no internet, phone signal, nor almost any actual information from the outside world. Ellie Geller, from University of Michigan said it best when she stated, “I’m never sure whether my clock is telling me the truth about what time it is, because unlike home, here, people don’t just go to work and come back, but rather everyone is everywhere all the time. It’s a very dynamic community on the ship, where every person shares a vital role.”

I believe this is what has made the Semester at Sea experience so mind-blowing, as I have learned to break free from my time sensitive and internet-chained world. It has definitely been challenging at times, mainly as the reality-check hit me regarding how much I depended on Google for knowledge and cell phone plans to communicate, but I truly believe this is what has made living on the ship so much fun. We are now encouraged to actually talk to people face-to-face. Although we are sailing into the future, sometimes I feel like I’m living in the past, leaving people notes on whiteboards outside their cabins in order to meet somewhere, or chasing them down all over the vessel just to play board games. I suppose it’s like Mark Twain once said, “throw off the bowlines, and sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

And hey, looking at the bright side, at least we skipped a Monday!

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