Tuesday, August 30, 2011



I have been on the ship now for five days. On the 25th, I drove to Canada with my parents. That night they got to take a tour of the ship while I met up with some fellow students and explored Montréal. It was great getting to know people before we boarded and made the anticipation more exciting rather than nerve-racking,

The next morning, I woke up bright and early and walked my luggage down to Pier Alexandra. The process of boarding was quite simple. I just had to tag my bags, have my carry-ons scanned, and hand in my passport and yellow fever card. The next step was receiving my student ID and finding my room.

My room is kind of tiny but it works. There are two twin beds; one for me and one for my roommate, Paola. We get our own bathroom with a shower; a wardrobe/closet with shelves and hangers; a dresser that we share that has three drawers; a tiny table; a vanity; a mini fridge; a TV; and magnet wall that we quickly decorated.

Our first night on the MV Explorer we had to do an emergency drill. I am in muster station A1. We had to wear our life jackets and do roll call and stand outside our life boat until everyone was accounted for. It was annoying but I'm also glad to know that I am safe.

We get three meals a day, but I have quickly learned that breakfast and lunch will always consist of pasta and potatoes. Very repetitive. The nice thing is that there is always a salad bar and sandwiches. The best meal is definitely breakfast but it is only served from 0700-0830 (yes, everything on the ship is in military time).
My classes so far have been pretty interesting. Today was my third day of classes. On A days, I have poetry, which sounds like fun and my teacher is super nice but I know nothing about poetry and everyone else in the class is super informed. :/ Today I had global studies, which we all have to take because it teaches us specifically about the countries we are visiting. So far it is pretty interesting. I also attended marine biology, which might be difficult because it is a lot of memorizing creatures and stuff. But I think it will be cool. My last class is architecture. It sounds interesting because rather than studying building styles and eras and such (production history, like how its made) we will be studying the consumption history, which is more about who lived there what it was used for and why it is significant. Every day on the ship is a class day. No weekends because we don’t have class while in port.

Everyone that I have met so far is really nice and everyone is from so many different places. A lot are from California and Boulder, Colorado, though. I am the only person from RI. :)

Fun facts:
-Tonight will be the third night that we lose an hour.
-Yesterday was Captain Kingston’s birthday.
-I have seen dolphins and I am now on the lookout for whales.
-Last night we passed over where the Titanic sank (or so I’ve been told).

When I get into certain ports I will try to find internet cafés to upload pictures and videos.

Internet on the ship costs money but we are given a free email so if you want to get in touch with me, just email me at vrwilliams@semesteratsea.net. Keep in mind that it can take up to a day to reach me and another day for you to receive what I have sent.


Friday, August 26, 2011


OK. So here's the latest news: I'M IN MONTREAL!!!!
Drove the eight hours yesterday with my parents. Got to the hotel and met up with a bunch of SAS students. We then went out and explored the city. While I was out, my parents were getting a tour of the ship with the rest of the parents. They said it was really nice. I am so excited to board the ship today at 11:40. :)

More updates to come!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Field Programs (11 DAYS)

so i figured i would post the details of all of the field programs i have already signed up for. Sorry its kind of long...

ACR15  DRUMMING AND DANCE WORKSHOP  –  GROUP A (1000-1800) Minimum 30/Maximum 60 (PRICE: $101) PRE-SALE ONLY


Participants will partake in an African drumming and dance workshop under the
direction of the renowned Afrique Dance Ensemble. Established in 1993, this group
has been actively involved in the promotion of African and Ghanaian cultural heritage
through traditional music and dance. Led by young and vibrant directors, this
ensemble has performed widely in Ghana as well as in other African countries. Its
rich repertoire includes Ghanaian folk/traditional music and dance as well as
Senegalese, Malian and Guinean traditional dance pieces fused with more
contemporary movements. The workshop will culminate in a performance by the
Through participation in this workshop, students will observe firsthand the acoustic
properties of Ghanaian music and learn about how music is used in this culture to
communicate cultural beliefs. Above all, students will be better equipped to
appreciate, compare, and discuss music from many different parts of the world.


Tour the infamous forts, castles and slave dungeons of Ghana, located on the coast
east of Takoradi. First visit Elmina Castle, also known as St. George’s Castle, built by
the Portuguese in 1482.  This castle was the first European structure built in SubSaharan Africa.  Then visit the infamous Cape Coast Castle and slave dungeons.  The
castle was built by the Swedes in 1653 and was later taken over by the British.  Today
it houses the West African Historical Museum.   Participants will learn about the
relationship between the Western slave traders and African tribes that participated in
the highly organized Atlantic slave trade, and will have a first-hand appreciation of
the tragedy of that complex trade of forced immigration.  Enjoy lunch in a local
Ghanaian restaurant between visits. 
Professor Thomas’ group will also examine a number of questions about the early
encounters between Europeans and Africans from a linguistic point of view.  What
languages did the European traders bring to West Africa?  How did they communicate
with the Africans?  What languages did the African slaves speak?  Did they have a
common language?  How did pidgin languages develop?  How much were they
influenced by African languages?   How did they spread to the Americas and the
Caribbean?  What is their legacy in the USA and the Caribbean today?  Please note:
Box dinners will be provided upon your return to the ship.

CAS15  CASABLANCA CITY ORIENTATION (1330-1730)  Minimum  21/Maximum 86 (PRICE: $39) PRE-SALE ONLY

More than 150 years ago, the village that eventually developed into modern-day
Casablanca contained a mere 600 inhabitants.  Today, it is the economic center of
Morocco, the country’s largest city and Africa’s second-largest city, with a population
of more than 3 million people.  It is a modern and vital city, clearly a product of the
20th century. Casablanca is a modern and well-planned city that is good at hosting
the many foreign visitors who pass through each year. 
Visit the Hassan II Mosque, the world’s third largest mosque (outside viewing only).
Completed in 1993, the mosque was designed by French architect Michel Pinseau
and built by Bouygues.  The minaret of the Hassan II Mosque is the world’s tallest at
689 feet.  Similar to the architecture of the Alhambra, the mosque displays strong
Moorish influence but also includes modern touches, such as electric doors, a sliding
roof and heated floor.  It was also built to withstand earthquakes.
After visiting the Great Mosque, drive through Casablanca’s varied neighborhoods,
including the Ain Diab Corniche, lined with swimming pools, restaurants and
nightclubs; and the luxurious Anfa residential section, where Churchill and Roosevelt
met for the Casablanca Conference during World War II. 

CAS30  MARRAKECH  –  GROUP B  (0700-1900) Minimum 20/No Maximum  (PRICE: $138) PRE-SALE ONLY

Travel from Casablanca to Marrakech by motorcoach (a drive of approximately three
hours).  Upon arrival, visit the Majorelle Gardens.  After lunch, the exploration of the city
will continue with the Bahia and Dar Si Said Palaces (the latter now a museum of
southern crafts).  Wind up the afternoon at the tumultuous Jemaa el Fna Square at the
height of the day’s activity—with snake charmers, acrobats, medicine men and women,
storytellers, and scribes.  Return to Casablanca.
Suggested attire: light comfortable walking shoes, cotton trousers, knee-length shorts,
light shirts/T-shirts.

15/Maximum 100 (PRICE: $112; CHILD PRICE (ages 3-12): $112) PRE-SALE ONLY

Spend the whole day on a catamaran as you view the forest and mountains of the
southwest region of Mauritius and its magnificent lagoon by sea.  Sail to Tamarin Bay
where, if you are lucky, you might see dolphins! A stop will be scheduled at a chosen
spot for swimming and  snorkeling.  (Snorkeling equipment is provided.)  Please note: 
Wear your swimsuit underneath your clothes; bring a towel and sun protection.
Barbeque lunch with unlimited soft drinks provided onboard.

HKG25 HIKING ON THE GREAT WALL - 4 DAYS/3 NIGHTS (0945 Day 2 – 2000 Day 5) Minimum 16/Maximum 64 (PRICE: $1,299) PRE-SALE ONLY 

This trip offers the opportunity to explore the expansive Great Wall by hiking this
rewarding wonder of the world. Once in Beijing, travel three hours by bus to Simatai
where participants will watch the sunset over the Great Wall followed by an early
evening under the stars. Enjoy exhilarating 4-5 hour hikes on days two and three
where the group will enjoy two different sections of the Wall. Hike  Simatai  and
Jinshanling. The Simatai Great Wall is celebrated for its steepness and intactness.
The main attractions include the Stairway to Heaven, the Fairy Tower, the Heaven
Bridge and the Wangjinglou Tower. Continue to  Jinshanling, the best preserved part
of the Great Wall with many original features. The next day, travel to the Gubeikou,
which in comparison to the previous hike is fairly smooth and amenable. On the last
day, return to Beijing and visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City before the
return flight to Shanghai.

Includes: flights; transfers; 3 nights’ accommodation; air-conditioned bus to Simatai;
sunset over the Great Wall; 3 breakfasts; 2 lunches; 3 dinners, including Peking
Duck; Simatai-Jinshanling hike; Jinshanling- Gubeikou hike; visit to Tiananmen
Square and the Forbidden City

CAP32 TOWNSHIP HOMESTAY – GROUP A (1600 Day 2 – 1000 Day 3) Minimum16/Maximum 32 (PRICE: $124) PRE-SALE ONLY

Townships in South Africa came about as a result of apartheid city-planning policies, which excluded ‗non-white‘ people from living in the suburbs of the city. They were forcibly moved to peripheral areas on the edge of the city, where they had to live in harsh conditions and cope with extreme poverty. Although apartheid may have ended with the birth of democracy on April 26, 1994, when all races were allowed to vote, many people still face harsh conditions from the consequences of poverty.  Despite these conditions, the townships are filled with a strong sense of community, vibrancy and faith. There is a growing sense of hope as many redefine their futures within and beyond the boundaries of the township.
Tambo Village is a community located within the Gugulethu Township. As a small, contained community where everyone knows each other and lives within walking distance, Tambo is an ideal location to experience a homestay.  This homestay project is fully-embraced by the community; it is owned and operated by community members. They have a vested interest in the comfort and safety of their guests.
The accommodations in Tambo are simple. The houses are built out of brick and mortar and have running water,  flush toilets and electricity. Geysers (water heaters) are not standard; bathing in some houses is either with cold water or with water heated up on the stove.
Participants registered in this program will share a room with another SAS participant within the family home and must be prepared to share a double bed. This is a separate room from where the family sleeps. All linen and bedding is provided.  Meals are prepared and provided
by the host family. The food quality is excellent and special dietary needs may be catered for on request. Please note:  At the village‘s request, this trip is not suitable for children under 12 years of age.
Includes: round-trip transportation; dinner; overnight homestay; breakfast

CAP42  SERVICE  PROJECT: HABITAT FOR HUMANITY  –  GROUP A  (0800-1600) Minimum 15/Maximum 20 (PRICE: $59) PRE-SALE ONLY
Millard Fuller believed that, ―We have the know-how in the world to house everyone. We have the resources in the world to house everyone. All that's missing is the will to do it.‖ In 1976, this lawyer and businessman from Alabama started Habitat for Humanity International.  Thirty years later, Habitat for Humanity‘s impact is colossal, reaching 100 countries across the globe. In 1998, Habitat began building houses for people in need in Cape Town. Habitat‘s mission ―is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness over the world.‖ It takes more than desire, sweat and hard work to embrace this mission and build a Habitat house. The cost to build a brick house with electricity and indoor plumbing in South Africa is approximately US$13,000. During this service project, you will be working alongside South Africans in a nearby township. In partnership with Habitat, the future homeowners will also be there. Homeowner families are chosen according to their need and their ability to repay the no-interest mortgage.
A typical day begins with a welcome from the Habitat team and some instruction on the
activities of the day. This is followed by a morning work session, lunch and then an afternoon work session. Supervision on site is provided by an experienced local builder. Lunch and tea are provided by the homeowners. Please note: The price of this practicum is based on roundtrip transportation to and from the site. The actual cost for this Habitat build (US$2,000) is courtesy of the SAS Annual Fund.

CAP53 OPERATION HUNGER - GROUP B (0900-1800) Minimum 35/Maximum 40 (PRICE: $48) PRE-SALE ONLY

Operation Hunger is an NGO whose mission is ―to create partnerships between vulnerable households and caring people to combat malnutrition which, when suffered by children, undermines the nation‘s health, education and economic potential.‖  The objectives are to improve the nutritional well-being of the poor; promote the dissemination of knowledge about poverty and malnutrition in South Africa; improve existing facilities to reduce malnutrition in South Africa and to render financial assistance to develop such programs; cooperate with communities, organizations and authorities to combat malnutrition; and publicize and promote the objectives via lectures, exhibitions, meetings, conferences, pamphlets, newspapers, books, leaflets, radio, television and films.  Operation Hunger‘s integrated development program includes locally managed growth-monitoring programs, targeted food support, water supply, sanitation facilities, health/hygiene education, income generation and livelihood programs, agriculture and food production. 
The staff of Operation Hunger provided the following vivid description for this visit:  You will visit the squatter camps on the outskirts of Cape Town, filled with people mainly from the Transkei and Ciskei, who come to the big city at a rate of 10,000 per month, in search of non-existent work.  On arrival, these people are already malnourished.  They find no land, no shelter, no work and no means by which to return ―home.‖  So they set up shacks made out of plastic, tin, cardboard or anything else they can find.  Through Operation Hunger, women in the community have established feeding programs—setting up their pots of soup in the dusty little lanes and in all the crèches.  About 50 kilometers outside Cape Town, in the beautiful wine lands; you will
also visit the children of farm workers who are part of Operation Hunger‘s feeding program for malnourished children.  Most farmers in the wealthy wine lands area are paid an absolute pittance in exchange for 12 hours of hard labor.  While the parents are out picking, child minding and feeding are nonexistent.   Women in the community have set up street kitchens to feed the children.  The day‘s activities will include visits to several townships such as Spandau, Green Park and Chris Hani, and an opportunity to witness the efforts of Operation Hunger. 
Please note: The price for this practicum includes a small donation to Operation Hunger.  Box lunches from the ship will be provided.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Well so much has happened since the last time i posted i figured i would leave an update.

As for those scholarships i mentioned...
those are the ones i was waiting to hear about from SAS, i was also fortunate to receive more financial aide and scholarships from Hartford.

I also went to the doctor and got all of my paperwork filled out and sent in. This included getting fie different shots. OUCH it was definitely not easy going to work the next day feeling nauseous.

speaking of work, not only am i hostessing to make a few extra bucks, I have also started to waitress. It was stressful at first but i am beginning to enjoy it :)

I booked my plane tickets home from Florida two nights ago and started packing! Two large duffels on wheels to fit the next three and a half months of my life into. its not going to be easy but i love packing, it makes everything feel so real and i am seriously getting excited. I leave the states on the 25th and it is approaching fast! i plan on making the most of my last couple of weeks of summer. going to VT with some of my best friends for an OAR concert and some much needed girl talk, then a day at the water park and right before i leave i plan on spending my birthday with everyone at school :)

thats all for now.... ill keep you posted!

ps i recieved my visas awhile back which was really exciting!