Embarkation | Day 1 | Entry 1
Location: Nassau, Bahamas
“Wherever you go, you will receive impressions of the places you see and the people you meet. Do not forget that those people will receive impressions of you.”
-Broughton Waddy and Ralph Townley
Note: This post is the first in our ongoing blog series, Perceptions.
As I sit here writing to you from a miniature desk in our cabin, it’s my first night on the MV Explorer! Truth be told, it’s my first time ever being on a ship this large! It’s hard to believe this will be home for the next four months. To think I am about to travel around the world is mind-blowing; it truly is a weird feeling. I pose you, the reader, to imagine for a brief second that you’re sitting in a small cabin on a ship in the Bahamas; about to embark on a global adventure that takes you to 12 countries along with 600 other strangers. This dream is a reality called Semester at Sea.
Embarkation was quite the process; I arrived at the Nassau Port a little after 9:00am, delayed by the Bahamian traffic rush. If you’ve ever ridden public transit here then you understand that fold-down aisle seats make it quite interesting when somebody sitting in the back needs to get off; it’s basically a cruel game of musical chairs – add luggage to the equation and it becomes a logistical nightmare. The next step was to make it through port security, basically the same as airport security apart from moist heat and excessively bulky baggage. The long process went by quickly as I met a number of my new fellow students.
It’s quite comical getting to know everyone because we all struggle with names, especially me, but over time I feel it will only get easier. This whole process became less stressful as I ran into Bridget, a friend I had met the night before at Señor Frogs, one of the “local” Bahamian bars. The next step was to turn in our yellow fever cards in exchange for a SAS student ID card (granted access to everything onboard: room, ship, and food). Lastly, after going through another security checkpoint, metal detector and bag scan, I made it up the gangway and onto the ship!
I was led to my cabin through a maze of hallways and upon arrival, Nick, my roommate for the next four months, opened the door as I attempted to slide my card through the lock. It was a rather awkward introduction as we both tried to open the heavy undersized door in opposing directions. When we noticed what was happening we made our introductions around the door with one foot in but he seems like a good guy so far! Our third-floor outside cabin, number 3008, is small and simple with two beds, a bathroom with a shower, and one window. After unpacking a few things I headed to the “Union” for check-in: This is where we picked up our nametag, health insurance card, doctor info, etc.
Next was lunch, which was surprisingly tasty! Its served buffet style…just the way I like it. Back in the cabin, the announcement speaker, which is conveniently located directly above our beds, blared “MANDATORY MEETING IN THE UNION IN 30 MINUTES.” Nick and I decided that we should think of a proper nickname for the speaker; I have a feeling that it will be obnoxious and unpleasantly wake us many mornings. At the meeting, all 700 students attempted to squeeze in a room built for maybe 400. We listened to a powerful speech from the crew and the vice president of the Institute for Shipboard Education, both of which kick-started our young minds to think deeper and stay curious on the journey ahead.
Ten minutes after the meeting we had lifeboat drills, which were exciting until I realized that they only consisted of throwing on life vests, running up a staircase, and then standing 45 minutes waiting for your name to be called. The next meeting is not till 8:30pm and the ship is planned to leave port at 8:00pm, so I will be able to say good-bye to my parents and the Bahamas from the deck!