Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Semester at Sea

Posted on September 21, 2015 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

By Joie Grandbois

Our ship set sail at 5:00pm on Sunday, three hours ahead of the anticipated departure due to an approaching storm. Though we are ahead of it we are still feeling the impact with swells of 16 to 20 feet and winds at 35 knots. Today, our orientation day was a lesson in what to expect during our semester onboard as well as how to gain our sea legs. Unlike many of those aboard, I have been lucky enough to not have experienced sea sickness. I am immensely grateful for this.

Being far from shore, in the midst of stormy seas has been a bit trying.   We do not have access to the outer decks which has left me feeling a bit claustrophobic.  Quiet spaces are difficult to come by.  I am writing this on the floor of the balcony of the main hall where a presentation is going on below.  Most of the other common rooms are filled with groups playing games and socializing.

Despite the weather and the rolling of the boat, I have begun to make the acquaintance of my fellow students.  Most, after asking my name, proceed to ask me, “What class do you teach?”  Their perception of my age brings with it the assumption that I must be a professor and not a student.  It is a question I have never been asked at USM with its large non-traditional student population.  Non-traditional students such as I are definitely an anomaly here.

Though it has been a bit of a rough start, I still awaken each morning feeling a sense of bewilderment that this journey has begun.  It was only five days ago that I was packing and repacking my bags, checking things off my numerous lists and doing my best to not forget something.  Three air plane flights, one Atlantic crossing, a bus ride and three days at sea later here I am, a world away, on the adventure of a life time.  When I return I will have gained far more than just my sea-legs.


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