We are currently refueling near the Rock of Gibraltar. Such a tease, because we’re not moving - AND we can’t get off the ship.
Getting REALLY excited, because after six long days of class, we will be in Casablanca, Morocco tomorrow.
My travel plans:
Day 1, August 1st: Stay in Casablanca. My group of friends will be doing the SAS “Berber Villages” trip, so they will be leaving on Day 1. Hopefully, I can find some girls who are on my camel trek to travel with on this first day. I do want to see Casablanca’s main mosque, and do some shopping. We’ve all been told that Casablanca isn’t that exciting, and more than anything else, it’s just the starting point for travelers who visit Morocco.
Day 2, August 2nd: 8AM, meet my group outside of the ship. From there, we will be transferred to Marrakech. At 2PM, we will take a walking tour of the medina. The rest of the day sounds like free time in Marrakech - I am dying to check out the souks. My three-star hotel sounds pretty nice and provides both breakfast and dinner.
Day 3, August 3rd: 8AM, day trip to Essaouira (about three hours away), where we will ride camels on the beach (!!). We have the rest of the day to check out this “friendly coastal town with a medina, ramparts, and fishing harbor.”
Day 4, August 4th: Picked up from our hotel at 9AM and then, we’re visiting the Majorelle Gardens (these look cool on Wikipedia). Head back to the ship to make ship time.
This will be my first port where everything is really planned out for me. It will also be the first time that I won’t be traveling with Katie, Emily, Elsie, and Paige. Stoked to meet new people and not have to Wikitravel an itinerary for once! :)
// Edit: So we ended up not refueling, because the line at the station was too long. I’ll let you know when we’re hitchhiking our way to Morocco.
Semester at Sea is a true college campus. We take classes, write papers the night before they’re due, and overdose on lattes from our sixth deck coffee shop. In addition to all of these idiosyncrasies, student activities have a huge impact on our shipboard community. There are clubs of all types - Interfaith, Prism (LGBTQ), Dance, Psychology Majors, Yoga Enthusiasts, etc.
On Sunday night, I attended an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, put on by our ship’s student-run Oxfam organization. I have heard of these events before, but I’ve never attended one before. Here’s the concept: through one dinner, bring awareness about our planet’s food inequality problem. We were reminded that while this experience would be just one meal for us, this is the reality for people worldwide… every day. When I arrived to the Deck 5 dining room, I was asked to sign in. In order to prepare the meals and work with the Dining Staff, we were asked to RSVP days in advance. After signing in, I learned my fate. By picking out a piece of paper out of a bucket, I learned how I would be eating for the night. 15% would pull a “High Income” ticket, 35% a “Middle Income” ticket, and “50%” would be considered “Low Income. No shocker here, my dark purple piece of paper directed me to the “Low Income” section of the dining hall. My friend Katie headed to the “Middle Income” section, and Emily pulled out the golden ticket, “High Income.” Each ticket has your new name and identity. I was Liang for the evening, a Vietnamese farmer who makes less than $200 a year. I don’t own land, so I work as a day laborer. My family has barely enough to eat, and I am able to provide only a rudimentary education for my son. I need my daughter to help me out at home.
From there, we sat. I was allowed water, but I could not eat until after a few speakers. Four students and an RD (Resident Director… think RA) spoke, telling us about the history of Oxfam, statistics on world hunger, and stories about people from around the globe - the challenges they face as they provide for themselves and their families. For me, one of the most eye-opening parts of the night was when a popular member of the crew, Mizraim, talked to my table about what it’s really like to live off of a “Low Income.” This wasn’t just a story told during the Hunger Banquet. It was the man who was pouring me my glass of water. Mizraim, who hales from Jamaica and walks with a distinct limp, felt comfortable sharing with us his life story. How his parents split when he was only five. That the only person who looked out for him was his grandfather. And how he’s always worked hard for everything, even for his job here on the MV Explorer. All snide comments about pulling a “Low Income” ticket ceased.
After the few speeches, one of the student leaders reminded us that in life, you don’t just pull a ticket. Nothing is permanent, and this includes your social class. Then, a few members of the “Middle Income” group received new chapters to their stories. They had lost their jobs and could no longer bring dinner home every night. They joined me in the “Low Income” section. In the same manner, members from my section learned that NGOs had provided aid in their communities, which allowed them to change their fates, find jobs, and make money. They moved “up” to the “Middle Income” section. I really enjoyed this part of the program. Life can really change when you least expect.
Now, finally… the food. Here’s what everyone ate:
High Income (15%): typical meal on the ship - salad bar, pb&j bar, fresh fruit, multiple types of vegetables, rolls, potatoes, pasta, meat, dessert, teas/lemonade/water
Middle Income (35%): rice and beans
Low Income (50%): a half scoop of rice
Needless to say, there was much chatter in my section of the dining hall. Some didn’t even feel like waiting in the long line for a half scoop of rice. Other members of my group started realizing how much food waste was coming from the “High Income” section. Callouts were made. After waiting in line, I was finally served.
I was indeed hungry after my four-bite meal. While I consider myself to be a conscious human being, this event really asked more from me. I am definitely more aware of how lucky I am to live the life I’ve been given and how much food I put on my plate. Check out Oxfam America online.
Womp, womp. Been awhile since I’ve updated fullofSAS. Currently, I’m waiting for my steward to finish cleaning my room (I know, serious First World problems over here), and instead of cramming for my second (and final!) quiz for Global Studies, I’ve decided to send you updates. Here’s what I got:
Went to Istanbul, casually the coolest city I’ve ever been to. East meets West, Ramadan wasn’t as depressing as I imagined, and the Turkish heat didn’t kill me. Of the many things I can now cross off my reverse bucket list, my favorites include the Turkish Bath (You must get one if you EVER go to Turkey or any surrounding country; I’ve heard they have them in Morocco, and I’m quite tempted for a repeat.), praying in the women’s section of the New Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, and a fish sandwich from the Galata Bridge. Another one of my favorite adventures was when Emily and I took the metro in the complete opposite direction of Istanbul and decided to get off at a random stop (but let’s be honest, they were all random to us). We ended up in a residential area, found ourselves in a local market (had a Ramadan faux-pas when we bought a bunch of grapes and ate them in front of everyone - go us), and ordered lamachun from this small, family-run restaurant. The entire family was as precious as can be, as we conversed in broken Turkish/English and enjoyed each other’s company. The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market took a good chunk of change, but I was able to get all sorts of souvenirs for some of you lucky readers (look at me, assuming people read my attempts at being really really witty…) The big thing that I’ll take away from my now new #1 port (it was a good run, Barca) is how damn nice Turkish people are. Whether it was the lovely day on the Asia side of Istanbul with Burchu or every Turkish person who was more than willing to point us in the right direction, the people are so welcoming, so much warmer than many you may find in the States. With Classic U.S. Tourist Tunnel Vision, I found myself being extremely cautious around strangers, only to be proven wrong by the entire sense of acceptance and community that radiates from Turkey’s most populous city. All in all, another place I want to return to as soon as I can.
Now, I’m back on the Explorer, dying from seasickness. I never really felt it before until today. It’s not just me - the entire shipboard community is struggling, with students running out of classes headed for the bathrooms… to puke. Lovely visual, right? Thanks to my favorite North Carolinian, I am sporting seasickness wristbands, looking reallllll snazzy and popping Dramamine pills like it’s my job. Those plus my upcoming cups of coffee (remember, I have a quiz tomorrow) will surely shock my body… can’t wait. The only good news about a rocky day at sea is that most classes are cancelled, or at least let out early. Going to Global Studies was pointless today, as all of us were dropping like flies. The class is held for all &;500 students in The Union (there are two sections of it), the largest lecture hall near the front of the ship, where ironically we feel the rocking of the waves tenfold. And to top off this wonderful day at sea, someone thought it was really funny to schedule Taco Day for lunch. A sick joke. Obviously, I had 3. We’ll see if that was a good decision later tonight.
Oh, and last night was the Crew Talent Show. More preciousness. Many of them sang or acted out skits, and the MV Explorer Band even performed some great 80’s hits (yes, Don’t Stop Believin’ happened). We are really spoiled college kids to have such an amazing crew working for us 24/7. Our dean reminds us constantly that there are people working for us who we don’t see. The ones who are cleaning my underwear or preparing our potatoes and pasta. Just another reason to remember how lucky I am for being able to have this entire experience.
Wow, these posts always get sappy. I’ll work on the sass part.
5 days… and then, Casablanca!