Sunday, September 1, 2013

Welcome!! добро пожаловать! Willkommen! Accueil! Fáilte roimh! Boas-vindas! Bienvenido! These are some of the languages I will be experiencing as I sail the Atlantic! Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and welcome – I’m excited for our adventures we’ll be sharing together.

First of all, let me explain what I will be doing these next couple of months (because I am not on a cruise nor vacation!). I am on a ship with about 700 students from all over the world to live, study and take college courses. It’s phenomenal meeting so many people from many walks of life. I am taking a full course load with classes accredited by the University of Virginia, with professors from all around the USA. I am enrolled in music (global music), business ethics (global business ethics), art (mixed media visual journal) and sociology classes (race and ethnic relations). Classes will operate on an A/B schedule so we’ll have classes the day we’re at sea only, not in port. While in port, this is our time to explore and experience the lives of the people in the countries we’re visiting.

Speaking of ports, I guess we could say my first port was London, United Kingdom. I met up with some other girls from Semester at Sea to spend several days in London. This was my first time experiencing jet lag as I have never flown internationally. It didn’t help that I didn’t sleep on the plane…how could I when they were serving us meals and my excitement level was so high?! The craziest thing about the flight was that an hour or so after taking off from NYC, the sun would already be rising!

Our route on the plane - we flew over the Titanic sight!!
Luggage that weighs more than me!
While in London, it was very hot!! I heard it was the hottest summer on record. We did have one day of rain, but that is to be expected over there J We managed to see many of the iconic sights such as the double-decker buses, cool telephone booths (and they still had payphones in them!), Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and Big Ben. However one of my favorite things I did was I was there (Mom, this one’s for you) is wandering over to the local supermarket. It was funny because when I visited the world foods section, they had an American section! It looked like a very condensed version of an American convenience store and they even had grits! I couldn’t believe it.

Posing with one of the guards
Some of my observations in London circled around the size of objects. How was everything so small?? Or on the flip side, is everything in America so big? Hotel rooms, cars and meal portions were some of the things that came to mind. Somehow, I survived off of toast and jam every morning for breakfast.

Big Ben right in front of us after we got off the underground!
Buckingham Palace
Next stop was to Southampton where we would board the ship. I had full intentions of sleeping on the bus but adrenaline and new friends got the best of me and I found myself talking the whole time. It was funny while we were pulling up to the pier because we kept seeing ships and getting so excited that that one was ours. However, the MV Explorer was the little one in the back, much smaller than the vacation liners today that usually hold 4,000+ passengers.

Lion King cab!!! <3
This was awesome - a man blowing giant bubbles in Picadilly Circus
Hello, London!
The outside of  Westminster Abbey - it was so detailed
GRITS in British supermarket hahah you're never far from home!
Just trying to hold up the Tower Bridge

Embarkation was super easy and I could not believe how quickly we were processed. Kudos to the pier workers and all who had worked to streamline this process; we were on the ship in no time! While on line, I stood behind someone from the Bahamas and met some from Kazakhstan – so cool.

Well, that leaves us with boarding the ship! I am most looking forward to visiting Ghana. If there were no limitations, where in the world would you like to visit?

Stay tuned for my take on ship life & an update from Russia!

xoxo, Erin


  1. So glad your trip got off to a great start! And what's more American than grits?! They just need to add some non-instant ones! Great pictures too; I especially like your pose with the guard...they just love to hog the camera, don't they?! Hope your classes are going well! Peace out!

  2. LENAE!!! HI sweeetie! I miss you dear and am so glad you found my blog! We will stay in touch! xoxo