As I have mentioned in previous Semester at Sea (SAS) blogs, the departure is always a very emotional experience. We witnessed tears flowing down the faces of parents who said goodbye to their precious cargo as well as the tears of students with emotions ranging from unsettled anxiety to total bliss. While we have done this before, it's still a heart-beating, gut-checking, spine-tingling time when the horns blast and you realize that you are headed out into yet uncharted personal waters. While the success of our inner voyage is yet to be determined, our captain is currently successfully navigating the waters between two big storms as we make our way across the Atlantic. Last night most of us got less sleep than normal as we became adjusted to the rock and roll of voyage life. (wave heights up to 8 meters) Imagine your body being compressed down 4 inches into the mattress, and then, as if drawn back by heavenly forces, you lift up and seem to float in space momentarily, only to return back to a compressed state once again. Yea, I guess you could say that life at sea has its' ups and downs! (sorry) Cabin walls warp and the ship's hull groans as we batter the waves, yet we know all is just fine. We're in good hands, the MV Explorer is mighty, and last night we even had an interfaith ship blessing.
Beyond the weather, highlights so far include a big hug for each of our family members from Archbishop Tutu and his beautiful wife Leah (with whom we have had the honor of sailing with before). When the Archbishop was first received on the ship, he and Leah were gathered for a private affair with the deans and the captain, where when asked how were things so far, we're told he said "all was great and he was especially glad to be reconnected with Ryder." Ha! If that kid only knew!
Other highlights include meeting many of the bright-eyed yet over medicated students who will be in my classes (starting today) and getting to know an amazing group of international faculty colleagues. Next stop, Spain!