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Embarking The MV Explorer For The First Time

Living on a ship is a foreign experience to most of us. Each Semester at Sea voyage, a new group of students experience the (sometimes literal) ups and downs and new found challenges of studying, attending class, eating, exercising, walking down a hallway and everything else inherently different aboard a ship. It's a lifestyle that feels simultaneously familiar and incredibly different and unexpected. Rather than trying to explain this duality, we want to show you. Below, staff photographer Rafael Aguilera takes us through several hours in the life of a Short Term 2012 Semester at Sea student embarking for their first day aboard the MV Explorer. If you can recall your first day of college, this will be as surprising as it is familiar. -John Vieira

Students wait in line to go up the gang way and board their home for the next 26 days, the MV Explorer.
A group of students create new friendships while they wait in line to embark, from left to right: Megan Welsh - Washington State University, Zachary Raffa - Emmanulle College, Nicole Serra - University of Rhode Island, Lena Turkheimer - University of Virginia.
Excitement is in the air as students wait in line to go up the gang way and board the MV Explorer for the first time.
University of Miami student Matt Corrigan receives his Semester at Sea ID card--an essential shipboard tool that also works as a cabin key.
Excited to check in and explore his new home, Lifelong Learner Dave Harris waits to receive his ID card.
A crew member teaches University of Kansas student David Catt how to use his ID card to embark and disembark the ship.
Penn State student Sarah Gaffney travels between the fifth and sixth decks as she searches for her cabin and orients herself to her new floating home.
Gaffney uses her ID card to unlock her cabin for the first time.
City University of New York Lehman student Rachel Furr shares a moment of levity with her Resident Director Annalisa Peterson.
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science student Daniel Irkinas makes a new friend in George Mason University student Leah Maslov on the way to check in and receive cabin assignments.
Irkinas uses his ID card to unlock his cabin for the first time.
Irkinas studies the map that hangs in his cabin and anticipates the adventures he will have in each of the Short Term 2012 ports of call.
Everyone gathers in the student union union for the welcome orientation. The shipboard population will become an amazing community over the course of the voyage.
Executive Dean Luke Jones introduces himself and the voyage at the welcome orientation. This is the students' first chance to meet the faculty and staff that will be there with them every step of the way on the path to becoming global citizens.
Students enjoy their first meal on board during the final few hours before the voyage departs Costa Rica and officially begins.
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