The first week was all about adjustments. The students and faculty are slowly becoming accustomed to maritime life which has been a challenge physically and mentally. Sleep and eating schedules, watch duties, classroom environments, and personal space are all different when living on a ship with 73 other people. Even actions as simple as closing a door or stowing away all our belongings are things we have to be especially aware of since at sea all non-secured items can be thrown around and break. There are many rules like these established for the sake of safety, respect and fairness that were unusual at first but are already becoming habitual.
Three other major themes of this week have been community, safety and trust. As a group we have discussed what these three words mean to us and how they are connected. They are the base of the credo we came up with – ‘One Team, One Ship, One Spirit’.
I have noticed this in its most organic form the first days at sea when many of us were dealing with sea sickness. Those who were able stepped up to help the others and held the community together by taking over watches, picking up slack with chores and galley duties, and providing emotional support. By looking out for one another, we are building the trust that will allow us to thrive and grow throughout this journey.
Despite some challenges we’ve faced this week, there have been some pretty spectacular moments experienced as well; One of the students described how she was on the foredeck for watch last night looking out at the ocean and the stars when she spotted a couple dolphins jumping alongside the boat. Others described seeing bioluminescence in the waves and flying fish earlier in the day. It has not been an easy week but we are reminded by these moments how incredible it is to be here.