Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Me Encanta Espana - Cadiz, Sevilla, Cordoba, y Granada (part 1)

So I figured I should finish my Spain updates before we get to Italy (which is tomorrow!!!!).
My next trip was to Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada.  We got back the night before at about 11pm and by the time we got back on the ship and settled and I finished packing it was almost 2 when I get to sleep (normally fine but keep in mind I've been sleep deprived for a week.  I always set two alarms just in case (at home/ school I turn mine up louder but I can't control the sound on these so I set my alarm and my watch).  They both always go off and I wake up no problems.  Well on this morning I had to be in the union by 7:30 with my passport because we were leaving at 8am.  Turns out I had set my alarm but not turned it on and my watch alarm got set forward and hour.  I woke up at 7:22 (at least it wasn't later) and panicked.  Thankfully, I had packed the night before and picked out my clothes so I ran down 8 minutes later on the dot and got to the union where people we're signing in yet.  Oh, and I had realized that I put my tube top on inside out but I didn't have time to fix it so I had to go to the bathroom once I got to the union to change.  Then we started signing in and I realized I didn't have my passport.  So I ran downstairs, realized I needed my ship ID card, ran upstairs, ran back downstairs and stood in line to get my passport (the ship hold them for you.  Thankfully, dock time (if you are late you have to sit on the boat at the next port for a certain amount of time before you can get off - ex. one hour late = 12 hours of dock time) wasn't given out unless you were there after 8 when we were supposed to leave.  There were a few people who didn't make it at all (one got a bus and joined us in Sevilla).   Oh, btw, I looked like a zebra because I had been wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and a backpack and get lots of tan lines the day before.
So once I was all settled on the bus everything went well.  We took about a 2 hr bus ride to Sevilla.  Here we went in the Cathedral of Christendom with Christopher Columbus's tomb and we went in the Alcazar palace/ fort.  (Just as an fyi, I am reading this off of the itinerary because I honestly don't remember what we did where - labeling pictures is going to be fun haha - I labeled them Spain and don't know how to do more than that).  The buildings in Spain are AMAZING.  The cathedrals, mosques, palaces, etc. are all so incredible.  I took pictures and videos but you really can't even understand from looking at them.  The ceilings are all sooo sooo high and they have such intricate designs.  The walls are like that too.  Almost every space is covered in really detailed carvings tiles it is so cool.  We ate lunch at this place and just got lots and lots of tapas but they were really good.  I tried calamari (still not a big fan) but the tortilla espana was my favorite (like a soufflé with potatoes).  We also had olives and mushrooms and asparagus and prochuto (please excuse the horrible spelling - I don't have time to look it up) and chicken and pork and bread and wine and lots of good stuff.  Then we walked through Santa Cruz Quarter, the old Jewish area.  Then we drove around and saw more of the city. Apparently we saw the Torre del oro and walked around the Parque de Maria Luisa and Plaza de Espana.  Ok, if it says so - it kind of all blurs together.  We had a little free time to shop but only like 20 minutes.  Our trip was so jam packed that we would be on the tour and they would say ok you have 15 minutes.  One time we got 1 minute to take some pictures and one time we got 5 min.  Then we drive like another 2 hrs on the bus to Cordoba.  We did some shopping (got lots of cute clothes).  First we were trying to find a cell phone store so that we could figure out why our international phones weren't picking up a signal anywhere in Spain.  We went into this store called Orange and the lady was really nice.  I was doing okay with my Spanish but then there was one word that I didn't know and so she started typing on the computer.  She got to a translation website and typed in the Spanish sentences and translated it to English and showed us.  She basically said to call Verizon.  So later we went to get a bite to eat and a drink.  We went to this kind of coffee shop type thing with like 3 tables in it and got some pastries and beverages and relaxed.  The guy working there was really nice and was talking to us.  I don't know what I'm going to do now that the other countries don't speak Spanish.  We were reading the labels on the sodas and one thing was energia so we were asking what that was and he said energy which is what we thought so we were thinking maybe caffeine.  When we went to get up there was this guy at the other table who had been sitting there and he invited us to his discoteca.  He as the dj.  We were talking in Spanish and then he said "DJ" and I was like - I don't know what that word is.  Then one of my friends who doesn't speak Spanish was like - you mean a DJ like with music.  haha I was thinking so much in Spanish I got confused.  But he wrote down all the info.  We didn't end up going but it was still nice to talk with people who live there. Then we ate dinner, did some more shopping until the stores closed, and walked around a lot.  There were two guys working at the store (they stayed open way late for us :)) and I was trying to talk in Spanish about and one was having trouble.  Then the other guy asked me in English if we were looking for other stores (they were all pretty much closed by then).  Then we went outside and talked with this guy for a while.  He speaks Mandarin and English and Spanish so we could talk in English. 
Ok, time for lunch so I will talk about Cordoba later.
From the Mediterranean waters close to ITALY, Sharon

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Me Encanta Espana - Cadiz, Sevilla, Cordoba, y Granada (part 1)

I can't possibly recount everything that I did the past few days but I will try my hardest and might make this into multiple blog entries as things come to mind.
So we started out docking the ship in Cadiz, Spain.  That day we woke up and walked around Cadiz until about 6pm.  We walked through town, went into a Cathedral that had this cool echo-y part underground, and walked along this beach and out this path to some tower thing that was locked.  Ok I just realized how very specific that sounds but we need to keep in mind that I have gotten the equivalent of one night's sleep in the past 4 days.  Also, we went to sooooooooo many places that it was really hard to keep track.  I took pictures and videos of everything though and while I can't post them now (they are too much data for the free email), I will attempt to put them all online when I get home.  So what I didn't realize was how hard it is to adjust to Spain's eating habits.  They do a lot of tapas (like a snack) and eat lunch and dinner way later than we do.  So we tried to eat lunch at like 1.  We walked all over trying to find somewhere to eat (there was this protest going on where they were just blowing horns and whistles so we needed to eat somewhere away from that).  When we finally found a place and they told us to sit in this other area which we're pretty sure turned out to be another restaurant (the seating was all outside so it was hard to tell).  Then we sat there for like 30 min waiting for someone to come over and we finally got drinks.  We found a menu and after and hour found out that we can't order from that menu because it was only tapas time not lunch time.  So we tried to order tapas but whenever we would say something to the waiter (in English or Spanish) he would say "si" and run away.  So Alex finally got food but there wasn't much that looked good and we couldn't figure out how to order so Melanie and I got hungry and bought ice cream from the stand next to us.  Then we paid (they tried to charge us for extra stuff) and went somewhere else (during the over 2 hrs we sat there an SAS teacher and his family walked by, ate lunch, and came back so they told us where to go).  This other place was really good and the lady was really nice.  She was spoke some English and we spoke some Spanish and it was very relaxing.  We got the menu del dia (menu of the day) and sangria and just sat in the middle of the town.  Then we walked around a little more and got some souvenirs.
That night we went to the flamenco and bull fight.  This was a bloodless bull fight because it was a baby bull in training.  IT WAS SOOOOO CUTE.  Ok everyone really needs to watch this video when I post it when I get home because it is so funny.  The bull walks in and heads straight to the other exit and stands in front of the door waiting.  Then the guy basically chases the bull around the ring.  Eventually the bull attempts to go through the curtain thing but almost every time it would get halfway under and then stop.  I'm laughing just remembering it because it was so funny.  You just half to see it - it was so cute.  We also had some flamenco dancing with horses (they danced - it was cool) before that.  Then we went and had tapas and sangria (non alcoholic but this one table didn't realize that and they were taking other people's drinks so they could have more and more) and saw more flamenco dancing.  Then there was a break and then we all did some dancing (including the Macarena).
Ok, so I am going to unpack and get some work done and sleep.  We only have 3 days until Italy so there is a lot of work to get done.  I have 3 more days to talk about from Spain but there is so much information that I need a break :).  So later I will update about our Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada trip.  But you should know that Spain is amazing and beautiful and everyone is so nice.
From Spain!!!!, Sharon

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Almost to Spain

Tomorrow we will be arriving in Cadiz, Spain.  I'm very excited, but I do have a lot to do before we get there.  I think I need to work on not trying to do everything because I'm already starting to get overbooked.  Story of my life.  All the extra things aren't mandatory and don't take up that much time, so it is not a big deal.  I'm working with the Students Of Service (SOS) on planning for the service visits that people can do in the countries we are going to.  I am also working with them on a workshop about community involvement as a student.  Also, the journalist lady on our ship knows some guy from the Hartford Current and he wants people from CT (esp that area) to send him stuff (I think for the blog that he does).  I don't know how much of a writer I am, but he is looking for pictures and videos and stuff too so I e-mailed him today and we'll see what happens with that.  I also met one of the parents on the ship today (cute little baby girl and an about 3 year old girl) and he said the children's stuff will start after Spain so I can't wait for that.  They are all so cute!
We had a dance the other night ("rock the boat dance").  It was pretty funny becuase it was in the Union at the front of the ship so it was hard enough to stand still at certain times. Plus they didn't even play "I'm on a boat" - probably because they get picky about it being a ship haha.
Here are the trips I am doing for Spain (SAS 2009 International Field Program):
Depart for a 30-minute ride by motorcoach to Chiclana and arrive to the bullfighting ring where the flamenco show takes place. Prior to the flamenco show, enjoy a welcome drink and view an exhibition of spear cow taming, an amateur bullfight with young bulls (bloodless), and a horse and flamenco spectacle. The first flamenco show is followed by a rest time for the dancers and then a second flamenco show with guests’ participation. (A welcome drink and appetizers are included.)
Day 1: Proceed by motorcoach to Sevilla (two hours) to visit the Cathedral of Christendom, which houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus, and the Alcázar. Built originally as a fort in 913, the Alcázar has been adapted and/or enlarged in almost every century since. Today it is more of a palace than a fort and is a beautiful and intriguing place. Walk through Santa Cruz Quarter, the old Jewish area of the city. Drive through the new, cosmopolitan section of the city and view the site of the Universal Exhibition Sevilla 92 and Torre del Oro, the great Tower of Gold landmark. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and some free time in Parque de Maria Luisa and Plaza de España. Proceed to Córdoba for dinner and overnight. (L, D; area hotel)
Day 2: An intensive morning excursion in Córdoba includes visits to Mezquita, a mosque intended to surpass all other mosques in grandeur; the Alcázar, constructed for the Catholic Monarchs in 1328; and Judería, Córdoba’s medieval Jewish Quarter. Drive to Granada for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D; area hotel)
Day 3: Morning sightseeing in Granada includes a visit to the famous Alhambra fortress-complex. Return to the hotel for lunch before departing for Cádiz. (B, L)"
Should be fun. Plus I have all of the first day to explore Cadiz until the flamenco trip.
Also, I need to give a shout out to Deena and Emily KJ for being the first 2 friends to e-mail me here.  Also - Danielle, I am paying attention to what is being posted in that facebook thread because I get the e-mail that tells me, but I can't go online to respond.  I wish I was with you so that I could here these stories in person.  And as always, hi to Mom, Dad, and Amy - love you!  I miss you all, but I am having a blast. Ok going to do work now, honest.
From the ocean close to Spain, Sharon

Sunday, June 21, 2009

More ocean

So we are officially in Europe waters.  Don't get me wrong - we're still in the middle of the ocean, but I like looking out all around and not being able to see anything but the ocean - it is calming.  Yesterday we passed between 2 mini islands.  They just basically looked like giant rocks.  We were trying to figure out if people lived there b/c it's really in the middle of nowhere (and we thought TY was bad lol).  There were all these lights that were on it last night and someone zoomed in his camera and thought he saw some houses but who knows.  Also we saw DOLPHINS!  There were a ton of them last night.  We were eating dinner and one girl realized everyone outside had gone to one part of the deck so we ran to the window (and then outside) and there were so many dolphins.  Like really a lot.  Either that or there were like 6 and they were just really really really really fast haha.  But there were small groups and big groups and a few of them came really close to the boat and some far away were jumping really high.  It was way cool, but I also thought it was funny how everyone came running over when people would find a new group.  Part of me kind of wanted to yell whale or something and see how many people ran over, but of course I wouldn't actually do that.
So yesterday we were celebrating Lauren's (sorry Lauren - you may not have found another Shazy but I found another Lauren.  Don't worry, she's from South Africa and we don't have a lab together so she can't replace you) birthday again.  Her b-day was 2 days ago and she ordered a cake for herself and all of us.  Then at dinner they brought a surprise cake her parents had ordered for her.  Then one of the staff was like - ok do  you want your other one now?  So he said we could have it the next night.  Both ice cream cakes were HUGE.  Her parents got the 8 person (it fed like 15) and she ordered the 14 person (it fed a lot - we had to give like half away to faculty {have to make friends somehow lol}).
The water has been better.  It still gets a little rocky and cold but it is not bad.  They opened the bars so people have been drinking but I was hysterical when one of my friends got some wine with dinner.  You get a drink card and you can only have a certain number a night and every hour.  Each drink is like 3 or 4 dollars I think.  There's wine or beer but they come in little juice glasses.  I mean little.  You know the size of your college ID - that's how tall the glass is - we measured.  Plus it is hard enough to walk sometime on this boat.  So I think I'll be sticking to water.
I got the rest of my trip confirmations.  I don't have the list with me now, but if I remember I will post it later and you can go online and see what I'm doing on each trip.  Either that or wait for me to share it here.  But I make no promises to remember all the details.
So we are getting in the habit of changing our clocks forward every night.  So it is hard to fall asleep but when you wake up you are not happy.  At least we can get some rest on the way back (also that means if I post things I'm not doing it at 5am my time - right now that's 10am here, but it will be later tomorrow, etc.).
I'm very glad I brought my cards because we play at 9 each night (the ship has uno, apples to apples, etc. but they're usually taken out already or we're too lazy to go check).  I have banana grams too but I don't know where we can play that because the table are small for the number of people we have (and just in general).  Don't laugh - we either play cards every night, study, go to bed and lie awake for a while, or - if it's open - go to the bar area and spend hundreds of dollars (each drink card is like $50 something).  So yeah, we play cards - you'd be surprised how many people get back into these games on the ship.  I've been going to an explorer seminar (optional info sessions every night 8-9ish: although we do sign in so I wonder if there is some kind of reward) each night.  There's things about Spain (the guy we met at Halifax is doing those - he's like super impressive - was the 1st UVA SAS dean, won these awards, wrote a ton of books, was knighted by Spain), and other leadership stuff.
By the way: I have friends from South Africa, Malaysia, Philippians, Germany, and somewhere else as well as all over the US - plus check out the SAS blog http://sas-summer2009.blogspot.com/ and see why the MV explorer should be UMass worthy on the MV explorer special post.
Rumor ranger update hehe -  I love this (SAS Dean's Memo, Fri June 19, 2009):

"Rumor: The ship changed its course because of an iceberg in our path.

Response: There is some truth to this rumor. The MV Explorer regularly receives comprehensive marine weather data. Leaving Halifax, this data indicated the possibility of some ice moving south in the currents. While the ice was still north of our charted course, the Captain altered our course slightly to travel even further south than originally anticipated as an extra measure of prevention.  Such minor altering of course happens frequently, more often to avoid weather disturbances and swells than to avoid ice flows.

Rumor: Sharks follow the follow the ship to eat leftover food thrown overboard.

Response: This is false (we think) Who really knows since we live above water! The fact is that leftover food is not thrown overboard--it is diluted into a watery paste and discharged into the ocean when appropriate. A lucky shark in the right place at the right time might get a nice puree of our food waste, but we suspect they don't regularly stalk us!

Rumor: The MV Explorer has slowed down its speed so we don’t get to Cadiz too early.

Response:  The passage from Halifax to Cadiz has seven scheduled days at sea at an average speed of 15.6 knots. While the Explorer could increase speed to allow for earlier arrival, the academic program must have a critical mass of class days (days at sea)—thus our expected arrival on June 24!"

Just thought I'd keep you updated.  Also, feel free to comment.  I'm not going on the internet at this time (saving $), but my mom is forwarding all comments to me.  Also SEND ME E-MAILS!!!! You can send them to my Umass email - it is being forwarded, or if you want to be special you can send them to: srhorenstein@semesteratsea.net There's a computer lab in the middle of the ship so I check my e-mail a lot when I pass it.  I have like an hour or two free in sections in the middle of the day during class time so I stop by a lot in the afternoon.  I'm curious how many people are actually reading this. Plus if you e-mail me, then I will respond (assuming I don't get really really busy in the next few days) and they you get messages from me from another country.  Way cool, right?  Ok so really I just want some mail, but it is pretty cool.  I keep thinking of doing shout outs here, but I would leave at least one person out by mistake and I don't want anyone to be left out so send me a personal message and you'll get one back (any maybe a shout out to).  Can you tell I'm trying to avoid homework?  There's nothing to clean in my tiny room so this is my procrastination technique (don't worry - it's only reading and not due for a few days). I actually made flash cards yesterday for my exam the day before we're in Italy (look it up - I did that way in advance: are you proud? because I am).  Also they have movies playing on our TVs.  There's 6 channels: 1 is the ship info (latitude, longitude, speed, date, time, etc.), 2 and 3 I think are foreign/ cultural films, 4 is the dean's memo info (announcements, b-days, rumor ranger, etc), 5 is children/ family movies (Harry Potter, Pooh, Cars, Ice Age - yes those are the ones I usually have on when I'm getting ready), and 6 is popular films.  I was annoyed this morning because I was watching something while I was getting ready and they turned it off because it was 15 minutes before global studies which everyone has to go to.  However, the ship is only so big so I still had 5 minutes (really like 10 b/c the room we were going to go to doesn't open until 5 min before b/c there's a class, but I wanted to get there early).  So I turned on the channel 1 for some noise.  They have cheesy music on there with the ship info.  Ok, time to go.  I think I'll make some more flash cards (way more interactive than reading a text book.  I am reading Dream in Color because Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is coming and she wrote it.  That one is pretty good, but I hate reading text books so flash cards it is.  Okay, stay posted - there will be more info to come.

From the Atlantic Ocean by Europe, Sharon

Friday, June 19, 2009

MV Explorer

I'm on the ship (ship - not boat: very important).  The weather has been kind of cold and the ship was really rocky especially the first few days.  They said one of the crew has been sailing for 11 years and was seasick for the first time.  I finally took off by seasickness bracelets last night and I'm not using the ship's meds anymore (they say non-drowsy but I'm not convinced).  My room is (of course) right at the front of the boat - Room 4003.  This means I have a mini roller coaster ride.  I'm not bothered by it when I'm sleeping, but my roommate has spent the last 2 nights in her friend's room in the middle of the boat so she can sleep. 
I'm taking 3 classes.  Everyone on the ship (including all faculty and life long learners: aka non-college students) takes global studies.  I thought this class would be more about learning about each of the places we're visiting but it is a little more historical.  Plus the teacher wants to go in order of historical stuff so we are learning about Spain last.  That would be fine except Spain is our first stop.  Oh well.  This class at 9:20 but breakfast ends at 8:30 so I'm still figuring out what the best way to do this is.  Lunch is at 11:30 so if I miss breakfast that's the next time I can eat.  So far I've been eating and then getting ready (what else can I do for an hour?).  Today I saw girls wearing their pjs to breakfast so I might do that too eventually.  Ok so then at 1:35 I have my social work in the global world class.  This one seems really interesting.  The teacher was a student on SAS so she's really understanding about everything.  I'm so excited for our field work because it is going to visit orphanages.  My next class is right after in the same room and it is beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors.  This class seems good, too.  There are no exams - just papers so that's nice. 
A word out to UMass - I have friends from south Africa, and 2 other countries I can't remember.  So when you tell students they can't do SAS because there isn't enough interaction with non-USA students, talk to me and then talk to people who go on your programs and only socialize with other students on that program and then compare.  I win aka SAS wins aka let people do this voyage!!!!
Anyways....  I got some cute SAS clothes.  They started selling out of stuff after the first day so one of my friends and I sat in line for over an hour and did work while waiting for the store to reopen (the sign said reopen at 4 - it was like 5 when the lady got out of the CPR training and back to the store).  I know that sounds desperate, but we're in the middle of the ocean - there's not that much else to do.  It's nice though because after dinner we studied outside on one of the decks by the pool.  It is still a little chilly so I can't wait for it to be really nice so I can work on my tan (with plenty of sunscreen of course - no worries).
Ok so I have a huge range of people reading this (family, friends, teachers, etc.) so I'm not formatting it to anyone.  Think of when you're really overtired and getting a little cabin fever and that's how I'm writing this (I thought I was doing okay until I told one of my friends that his compass probably doesn't work anymore because the cabins are made of magnets.  Another friend agreed until he pointed out that they are not magnets - they are just metal.  Oops, I knew that, really.  Plus on our lunch announcements yesterday the asst. dean or whoever said it was Wednesday.  It was Thursday.  We think.  It's very confusing.  This is what happens when we lose an hour of sleep every night.  Yup every night we push our clocks forward again and again.)   Please excuse the rambling but it is whatever comes to mind. 
I'm signing up for the rest of my trips today - hopefully I will get the ones I want.  I also signed up to work with the kids on board (yeah yeah no surprise).  They need to go through all the forms but I hope that works out, too.  Ok time for lunch, I'll post more later.  Check out my more exact location (although some tours of the bridge (captain's area) were cancelled yesterday because of navigation issues - comforting, right? I'm assuming they worked that out) and eventually slide shows from my voyage online at the link from my first post.  Ooh also, they have a Dean's Memo everyday for info about stuff on e-mail, TVs, and paper.  There's a quote of the day just like at TY, but one of my favorite parts is the rumor ranger.  This lists rumors going around the ship and if they are not true. Yesterday's rumor:
           "Today’s Rumors: The ship is currently traveling through an Atlantic storm that is expected to grow in intensity later tonight, complete with hurricane force winds and 50’ waves.

            Response: False! The Captain advises the swells that we are experiencing are not uncommon for an Atlantic crossing. To give a sense of perspective, he rates these swells as a “5” on a 10 point scale (essentially, “moderate”). Further, the Captain advises we should expect a few more days of this type of swell and—fortunately-- conditions are not expected to worsen." (Dean's Memo, Semester at Sea, 6/17/09) (see look - no plagiarism: I gave the source)

Ok it's really lunch time.  Ooh afternoon announcements are on (she got the date right today :)).  Note to self (you know because I have so much internet to check my blog lol. Ok I should probably get some extra sleep and maybe go outside because I found that way funnier than you probably all will): set clocks back an hour tonight.

From the Atlantic ocean, Sharon

Monday, June 15, 2009

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I arrived in Halifax last night with my mom. There's a ton of SAS people staying at our hotel. It's cool because anywhere you go - elevator, lobby, dock by the boat, etc. - people are like "are you on SAS?" Everyone seems nice so I'm getting more excited. My mom was awake before me this morning (no surprise haha) so she actually met a bunch of people before I did. Today we got everything finalized and we went to go see the boat - it's big lol!
Tonight I'm going to meet up with some people for dinner and my mom's going to a parent's event on the boat so she can look around. P.S. my dad and I switched phones for the summer b/c his is international capable so when you text me, you are actually texting him. Email me if you want to say something please.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


So I am officially packed and ready to leave for Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada
tomorrow. Packing 9 weeks of stuff into 2.5 bags wasn't easy, but I think we
got it to all fit. I'll miss everyone so much but I'm very excited. I hope
everyone has a great summer, and plan on seeing many many many many pictures
and videos when I come home. :)
I told people I would do one of these myself, but until then, here's a tour of
the ship if you want to see where I'll be living when on the water. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Getting ready!

I'm leaving on the 14th to Halifax, Nova Scotia for Semester at Sea and I'm so excited! Throughout the summer I will be posting about what I am doing on board the ship and in the countries we are visiting. I have some great classes and trips planned so it should be a lot of fun.
Here is the link to the website. It will take you to the information on mailing letters to me, but if you look around you can find more info about SAS (Semester at Sea) and my trip.