Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Home Sweet Home

So, we are docking in our first port, Hilo, tomorrow and I realized that I still haven't really told y'all anything about my new home, the MV Explorer, and life on board. I could be wrong but I think that is probably something most of you are interested in so, here goes!

Welcome to life aboard the MV Explorer! First of all, we are on a 24-hour clock. Yeah. That takes some getting used to. A lot of getting used to actually. Add that to the constant time zone changes and being on time for things is a challenge, or in my case, more of a challenge than it already usually is. We also don't really operate on the standard 7 days of the week calendar. We pretty much exclusively operate on the A/B day schedule. Technically that is the class day schedule but it is basically the calendar. We don't really have weekends anymore and days are labelled A1, B1, A2, B2, so on and so forth. Every few of them we get a study day but we haven't reached any of those yet. The way it is supposed to work is there are classes that are on A days and others on B days, kinda like Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes and Tuesday/Thursday classes at land based universities.

My personal schedule is set up so all 4 of my classes are on A days though which I personally really like. It means my A days are packed but then I get all day B day to work on readings and classwork, which is something I definitely need. I have more coursework for just 3 of my classes (9 credits) here than I usually have for like all 4 or 5 of my classes (18 credits) at my home university. It's pretty overwhelming. It may not usually be that way, but one of my classes is a literature class and it is the only class that professor has so the readings are really piled on. Since boarding the ship we have been assigned 6 short stories, an essay and a short novel to read. It kinda makes me feel like I fell overboard and am drowning, but the stories are actually pretty cool and the class discussions are fascinating. The probably rank up there near the discussions in my Human Rights class. Those are by far the best though. They are some incredibly hard and uncomfortable topics, like for the past couple classes we have been talking about prejudice and the level of self-examination we end up doing is really difficult. (If you want more detailed examples of things like the springboard discussion questions we have been using just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Just make sure that comment includes your email address.)

That class and my architecture class are by far my favorites. I still feel like the architecture class is going to be hard but it is still really interesting me. I end up taking notes like a maniac and few to none of my sketches look like the buildings they are supposed to be of but I kinda feel like I am taking another history class, just looking of pictures of buildings at the same time, so it is really cool. The lectures really include a lot of historical and cultural context and information. It also involves sketching and a lot of other art history type stuff. The longer I spend in the class the more I like it but the more frustrated I am that my home university won't accept it as a fine arts credit. They take art history but not architectural, which in my mind makes no sense. When you think about it and talk about it the way we are, architecture really becomes an art form. More than that even, it becomes an art form for and from the masses. Most traditional art I think is more geared towards and from the wealthy that can afford it. It might sometimes depict members of other social classes but it is really the wealthy that are directly involved with it in most cases. (Please keep in mind that I am not an artist nor an art historian so there is a strong likelihood that I could be wrong, this is just my opinion and impression.) Architecture is simply a larger art form with more practical usage and a more direct connection to the masses. The masses use it, they build it, they live in it, and it reflects what they feel is necessary and important. Of course your still get the giant palaces but you also get public baths, defensive walls, simple houses and temples too. Art always deals with space too, either depicting is in the case of more 2 dimensional art, or displacing it in the form of more 3 dimensional art like sculpture. Architecture does too, it encloses it. (Giving credit where it is due, I got a lot of that last couple sentences about art and space from a textbook for my class, ABCs of Architecture by James F. O'Gorman. I just really really really liked it and thought it made a lot of sense.) It helps make the space useable. It can also reveal a lot about a society and culture. For instance, today we started talking about ancient civilizations and the rise of cities. One of the things that came up was the Mesopotamian Ziggurats. They were essentially their temples; they were also the heart of the city. Cities grew out around things that the culture and civilization valued and found important. In the case of Ur, that was a Ziggurat. In the case of Jericho it was a spring, a source of water. I might have just started studying architecture but the more I do, the more I realize how much it can tell you and the more it interests me. In my opinion, it is an even better source of cultural information than much art found in a museum. Then again, that is just me.

Anyway, wow. That was really long kinda rant/lecture/speech thing. As you can probably tell from it though, I am really enjoying my world architecture class. I am also enjoying a lot of other things I am doing on the ship though. I have made some really good friends, at least one of which I will be exploring Hilo with tomorrow. I have also joined multiple different clubs. The activities fair was the other night and it was kinda crazy .Yoga is incredibly popular. I think there were about 4 different types of yoga or yoga clubs. I didn't sign up for any of them but they sounded neat. I did sign up for all the dance clubs though, both the Latin Dance Club and the Swing Dance Club. I also signed up for a Bible Study, and the Dependent Children program to be both a history tutor, since all the dependent children (who range from age 3-16 by the way) have been pulled out of school for the semester and are being homeschooled, and to be part of the shipboard Big Brother, Big Sister program. That is all on top of trying to start a Homefront Hugs here on the ship too. We will see how that goes. Club wise I also teamed up with a girl I met the other night to co-found another club, a little after the fact but it should be awesome anyway, the Disney Appreciation Club. Basically we will be getting together and watching various Disney movies in between ports. It is going to be sweet. Our first one will be Lilo and Stitch after we get back from Hawaii (we didn't have time to do it before).

Shipboard life wise, I think that might kinda be it. Which considering the length of this post, I should have covered it all. Oh! Food! The food is good. Lots of pasta. Lots of rice. Lots of potatoes. I'm looking forward to a burger or hotdog or something tomorrow. The food really is good though. Especially considering the number of people they are feeding and the fact that we are in the middle of an ocean.

So yeah! That's life on the MV Explorer! I know, it's awesome, right? J

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