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 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: 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

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