Friday, August 31, 2012

Galway, Ireland

I'm in Ireland! On the morning we arrived, looking at the world map above the bed in my cabin, I was in awe to see the distance we traveled and to know that I would step off the ship in Ireland. My first step was actually on to a lifeboat since we tendered into Galway from our anchored ship. I started the day with an Irish breakfast, went into the cathedral, wandered the streets listening to street musicians, had lunch in a pub, and picked up our rental car. I can probably say that driving on the left side of the road, sitting in the driver's seat on the right side of our Fluence, on a narrow road with a 100km speed limit and winding curves, giving me slight panic attacks when speeding locals and buses passed by, was a perfect way to begin the first of many new, wild, eye-opening, and exciting adventures. The Irish are friendly and charming, and as future posts will illustrate, the countryside is beautiful. I'm grateful to have three new friends with me on this road trip through Ireland. The decision to slowly drive across the country from Galway to Dublin is proving to be a brilliant decision as we drive through small towns to see various sights. I'll share more soon!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Atlantic Crossing

For all those who may be jealous of my Semester at Sea voyage, this post should ease and diminish your jealousy. When we left Canada for Ireland, I wasn’t immediately affected by the week-long departure from land. Six days in, however, I am most definitely feeling like I haven’t seen land in a week. I’ve been a little dizzy and nauseous for the past 3 days, even with sea sickness medicine. Our ship has encountered heavy seas that hit us with 16-foot waves. Many of the decks have been closed. I haven’t walked in a straight line for longer than 5 seconds in the past 6 days. Dishes crash and break in the dining hall, people bump into walls, some fall out of chairs, and others are resigned to their cabin with sea sickness. I wake up from my amusement park ride of a bed (tonight, the 5th time-change and loss of an hour) to find things to wedge in between a swiveling television, opening and closing drawers, and sliding counter top accessories. I haven’t bumped into too many people because if the person walking next to me suddenly drifts 3-feet to the starboard-side, I did the same. Fortunately, I haven’t been sick, so I’ve been out and about and working in the library, but my days rarely involve trips to the outside decks since it’s windy and cold outside. With all due respect to the hardworking and dedicated crew on the ship, after this voyage I probably won’t eat potatoes for another decade, as they consistently arrive at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Arriving in Ireland is going to be exciting, to say the least. To see the sight of land, step on solid ground, and eat something different, is going to be euphoric. The photograph here was taken three days ago, about halfway across the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean is vast, deep, and powerful. I'm definitely in awe of the many stories out here, significant history, and the mysterious world underneath the water. From this long Atlantic crossing, I relearned that the ocean, and this world, is much larger and powerful than me. I spent many hours staring out at the ocean, and soon I can say that I sailed across. Well, technically Captain Roman did, in a motor vessel, but saying I sailed across the Atlantic is more likely the version of the story I will tell.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Our first stop before making the Atlantic crossing to Ireland was a stop in Halifax to pick up 500 excited students. My time here was short, but fun, filled with a walk along the waterfront boardwalk, a stop in a cathedral on the hill, which I peeked in to find a mass in progress, decadent fries from a food truck, a walk through the botanical gardens in the middle of the city, a stop at the Citadel (pictured here), looking over Halifax, and a beaver tail dessert of fried wonderfulness with chocolate, peanut butter, and Reese's, which was far superior to the local Canadian Poutine. I'm meeting awesome people and enjoying these new friendships. The shipboard life is a close community and makes for a promising and fulfilling voyage. I said goodbye to the sight of land for a week, as we cross the Atlantic. Stepping foot on Ireland soil will be a good feeling after a long crossing! My next update will be about life at sea, which is quickly shaping into a unique experience, to say the least. Until then ...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Boston

I'm in Boston today and the ship is about to leave for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Although I'm sad to say goodbye to my family and friends, I'm undoubtedly excited about the journey ahead of me. I'm grateful to have a loving family and I thank God for their presence in my life. We had a great tour of the ship together as they sent me off on this amazing adventure. I think I'll go out on the deck now and say goodbye to the United States as we sail away. It's time to open my eyes, my mind, and my heart to the world around me. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bon Voyage!

In two weeks I will begin a four-month voyage around the world! I will be one of the two librarians on the Fall 2012 Semester at Sea voyage. I am fully aware of what a blessing this opportunity is. I am not placing any expectations on the trip, but I would be surprised if this wasn't a life changing experience. I am going to 14 countries and even more cities, all of which I have never seen before. The shipboard life, a college campus on a ship, is incredibly unique. I am excited about the adventures ahead of me. I may be more than slightly anxious, but who wouldn't be with a once in a lifetime experience only days away. Pretty soon my daily routine is going to be shockingly altered, as I will find myself on a canal ride through Amsterdam, on a camel in the Sahara desert on my way to sleep in a nomad tent, sitting around a fire in Ghana listening to African drumming and folktales, and on a riverboat deep in the Amazon jungle. I look forward to sharing my experiences and giving thanks to God for the trip of a lifetime. Talk to you soon, and please keep Barack Obama in the White House for when I return, otherwise I may decide to stay in Belgium and eat chocolate and drink coffee all day. Peace!