On Sunday, August 21, I boarded a plane to Boston, Massachusetts in order to move into my new home for the next four months. My new home boasts of ever-changing amazing views, is extremely mobile, and is 590 feet long! I moved into the MV Explorer as I am joining Semester At Sea for the Fall 2011 voyage as the Alumni & Development Coordinator. This awesome job opportunity will take me and approximately 700 others on a journey around the world.
Since Sunday, I have met and gotten to know my fellow faculty and staff members as we sailed from Boston to Montréal, Canada. Our ship, the MV Explorer, docked in Old Town Montréal, a picturesque port the blends green park space with an industrial backdrop. When I think of the brief time I spent in Montréal images of the cobblestone streets and adorable dessert shops flash into my mind. A portion of Old Town’s cobblestone streets are reserved for pedestrian traffic and this provided a great way to experience the culture. The shops and restaurants that lined the streets were as varied as the people. I ventured into Les Glaceurs for cupcakes and ice cream. Yes, I bought both. I had vanilla framboise (raspberry) ice cream immediately and saved my red velvet cupcake and my caramel cupcake for later. All wise choices.
I returned to the MV Explorer for a meeting and a reception for the family members of students sailing on this voyage. I would like to share an experience during the reception that may help you understand the significance that Semester At Sea has had on my life. I was preparing to take a group on a tour of the ship and I overheard someone say that she sailed two years prior and that her younger sister was now sailing. This young lady looked around and immediately started to tear up. I smiled as I witnessed the visible emotion on her face because I understood it. This experience is about traveling the world, but it is so much more than that. It is a transformative one, one that remains many years after walking off the gangway at the conclusion of each voyage. It is why I have remained connected and will continue to stay in touch with Semester At Sea. My life has forever changed course since I initially boarded in February 1999.
Following the reception, a small group of us ventured back out into Montréal for dinner. We started at a restaurant where two musicians were performing directly across from where were seated which added to the atmosphere. Following dinner, or what ended up being our first course, we discussed wanting to try a couple of Montréal specialties. We’d seen images of poutine, french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds, and saw advertisements for smoked meat. We found a restaurant with both poutine and smoken meat. It was a storefront, but as we continued to the seating area, we were outside again, in the rear of the building. I opted for the smoked meat pizza. I enjoyed it. Those who tried the poutine enjoyed that as well.
The next morning the students boarded the ship. There was nervous and excited energy everywhere. It was great to see the anticipation on the faces of so many. Having been in their shoes, I could identify with the myriad of emotions they were experiencing. It wasn’t until the ship’s engines started that familiar rumble–symbolizing that we were getting ready to set sail–that I realized I am also a part of this experience. While I am not sailing as a student, I am sailing and this journey around the world will have an impact on me. I put down the paperwork I’d been going over and headed outside to the deck. I wanted to be outside as we pulled away from the dock. I wanted to be outside as the students realized that the moment had arrived. I wanted to be outside with my community as I realized that the moment had arrived when this voyage, the one I’d been preparing for was here, was now.