Our first day at sea was student orientation. They had all-day meetings just as we’d done the previous days, and we frantically prepared for the first day of classes the following day.
January 6th was our first day at sea and the students were in orientation all day. We’re really glad that we got to Dubai a few days before boarding the ship and that we were able to board a couple of days before they did to do our own orientation. Between the jet lag and the information overload, it can all be a bit overwhelming.
We sailed all day through the Persian Gulf and in the afternoon passed through the Straits of Hormuz, a narrow passage where the Gulf opens out into the Gulf of Oman. The weather was very cloudy and ominous, with the land on both sides shrouded and hard to see. We could make out the shorelines of Iran and Oman to either side. There are huge rocky mountains on the Oman side, and blocky islands at the narrowest part. It’s also very crowded with shipping: container ships, tankers, and some naval vessels. We sailed through a thunderstorm as we passed through the Straits – first rain we’ve seen on the trip. It was eerie to have torrential rain and fog as we sailed past cliffs among so many ships!
Classes began January 7th, as did my job. Except for Global Studies which meets every day, classes are held on either alternating A or B days.
I am really pleased to be working only 4 hours a day and only on days we are at sea – it’s plenty! I work a two hour block from 8-10 and another in the afternoon. OMG: I have a schedule! It’s a shock to have to be somewhere at 8 am every day: dressed, fed, and organized! My job mostly involves trying to help faculty and staff with office requests such as copying and materials, organizing requests for sport equipment, catering, and supplies from ship stores, and scheduling rooms and bridge tours. Someone has to do it!
I will try to alternate going to the class Scott is leading and co-teaching (Global Studies) with the Lifelong Learner (LLL) seminar. Global Studies is taught twice a day, once while I work and again at the same time as the LLL seminar, so I have to pick one or the other. I am also taking a class called Encountering the Global which will give me a chance to become familiar with some of the art, music, literature, and culture of each country we will visit. This class meets every other day during my break from work.
Yesterday there were rumors of dolphin sightings and we both saw them today (1/8) Scott got to see them riding and playing in the ship’s wake. Similarly, this morning there were rumors of flying fish sightings and I saw some later. A few birds have been spotted. Actually, before we left Port in Dubai a gull came into a family’s cabin through an open window and sat on their couch until they came home. The father was able to persuade it to leave while the kids tried to get help from ship’s crew. It was evidently more bewildered than concerned.
Since that one cloudy day in the Straits of Hormuz we’ve had warm sunny weather. We walk on the deck and join shipmates enjoying glorious sunrises and sunsets. The horizon is layered with desert dust, which has made for very red sun and full moon. It’s really quite lovely.
We’ve had two class days and things should settle in a bit after tonight which is Add/Drop. Everything seems to be going reasonably smoothly as we putt slowly along to India over six days – a trip that can be done in two!