In less than 48 hours, I set sail for one of the most exciting voyages of my life. No, I’m not overusing the maritime metaphors, I am quite literally setting sail! Five months ago, my friend and colleague Galina forwarded me an email from ACPA. This email detailed how ACPA was partnering with the well-known Semester at Sea program to bring a glimpse of the floating campus over winter break. The trip would entail 17 days of travel, 8 ports of call, on-board workshops and professional development, plus the opportunity to explore seven unique countries through structured excursions. I thought Galina was being a little naive that this could ever work out. Honestly, who gets 17 days away from campus? What department allows TWO people to be gone for that amount of time? How could we ever afford it? How would our families ever be okay with us missing the holidays with them?
Five months later, and none of those questions seem to matter any more. Our boss was incredible, as well as our VPSA. Not only are we allowed the time away, but we can also use our professional development funds to off-set the cost of the trip! A thorough look our finances and a structured savings plan allowed us to make the decision with ease. A call from Galina (where she no doubt employed a healthy dose of her WOO) got us an incredible discount, just by asking nicely! Our families were incredibly supportive. My parents even went so far as to purchase all of the off-ship excursions as my Christmas present, the caveat being that I had to take pictures at each location.
So here I am, hours from getting on a red-eye out of SFO. The next 17 days will take us from the Caribbean, to South America, to Central America, then back through Mexico, and finally San Diego. We even get to traverse the Panama Canal!!! The map does a better job at describing the voyage and you can view the itinerary here:
My MBTI “J” has been on high-alert for the past week (I currently have a 146 item packing list!), so I wanted to take a chance to reflect on what I’m about to experience and set some goals as well. I won’t have much Internet service, but plan to have blog posts ready for upload the minute I get back!
Goals for the Trip of a Lifetime
- Ironically, enjoy the time away from electronics, multiple devices, notifications, SnapChat, and more! The only free technology available on the ship (at least for my voyage) is free access to gmail, so I plan to send some emails so folks know I’m alive, but you won’t catch me on work email!
- Barring extreme sea sickness or exhaustion, enjoy either a sunrise or sunset every day. I’ve had countless colleagues and friends sail with SAS and the pictures from the deck are breathtaking, so I really want to experience it myself!
- Take time to get to know Galina even better. We have worked together for almost three years and I consider her a friend, but there is nothing like sharing a tiny cabin to break down any remaining walls.
- Take advantage of on-board workshops, classes, professors, and networking. There will be a variety of ship-based educational opportunities and I really want to soak this all in. There will also be a healthy amount of SAS alumni who are sailing with their families, so I would love to get their perspective on what it was like to sail in the 60s and 70s!
- Read, read, read, and read some more. I have about 10 books already uploaded on my iPad, and I rarely make time to read in my everyday life, so I can’t wait to get through some much-anticipated reads!
- Take lots of pictures, but take in the experience even more. I read somewhere that people’s memories of trips often aren’t memories of what they experience, but rather memories of the photos they took during the experience. I want to make sure I get out from behind the viewfinder throughout the voyage to make memories, and not just beautiful photographs.
- Discern whether I want to apply to be a Resident Director for Semester at Sea. Don’t get me wrong, I would have gone on this trip even if a job search wasn’t coming up, but it doesn’t hurt that I’ve been thinking about apply for the RD job since I got out of grad school. Not only will this be a hands-on way to get to know the ship and what it’s like to sail on a converted cruise ship, but will also give me a good idea of whether or not I’m cut out for it with 400 college students on board.
What else should I add?