Hello from the Atlantic Ocean! Yesterday our shipboard community became complete. After four days of faculty and staff orientation, we were finally joined by all of the students. They are quite an impressive bunch. They represent over 250 different colleges and universities from the U.S., and 12 additional countries. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and they all seemed very ready to get the voyage underway.
On ship time (the time by which all voyage participants must be on board) was at 1500 hrs. or 3 p.m. An hour later, the students had their first life boat drill. Captain Jeremy commented that it was the quietest and most orderly first life boat drill he’d ever seen.
An hour after the life boat drill, we finally set sail for our first port in Cadiz, Spain. Students lined just about every deck snapping pictures, chatting with new friends and waving their farewells to loved ones.
After dinner, there was a welcome meeting during which all of the faculty and staff were introduced, and the executive dean, Nick Iammarino, and academic dean, Bob Chapel, each spoke a few words of advice and encouragement. Dr. Iammarino said that this was like the very first day of college for everyone on board, and that students could, “make [the voyage] a good experience, or make it a fantastic experience.” He advised the students to focus on their studies, spend their time in port wisely, meet as many new people as possible and try to learn something from all of these new associations. Beyond that, he said, understanding, respect and flexibility will be key to a successful semester.
Dr. Chapel echoed many of Dr. Iammarino’s sentiments, adding that the floating university will truly be Thomas Jefferson’s “academical village” with students and faculty living, eating, bonding and learning alongside one another, and he advised students to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Captain Jeremy also gave a brief speech, assuring students of the high safety standards that the ship meets, and the regular inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard it passes with flying colors.
When the students were dismissed, the excitement on the ship was palpable. Sarah Van Cleve, a junior economics major from UCLA, said she couldn’t wait to finally begin her journey after all of the preperation.
“I’m most excited for Ghana, Vietnam and India because I think those countries are most different from what we’re used to.”
Alisha Martinez, a senior business major from Northern State University, said she was excited about every aspect of the voyage.
“I think the most interesting thing we’ll get to do will be actually talking to the native people and seeing many different cultures,” she said.
Today, students will be in orientation, and tomorrow will be the first day of class. Updates concerning both days will follow.
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