A Pollywog is not a Pokemon

We have been on the ship for a while, and have a few more days to go before Brazil. We have not been bored–quite the opposite, actually. I, personally, have been swamped with midterm exams, papers, and presentations. In the past couple of days, I have taken three exams, turned in three papers, and submitted an audio essay. I still have two more papers coming up. I am taking less credits now than usual, yet I have much more work to do than usual. Finding a balance between school, travel, and a social life has been a challenge, but I think I am doing a fine job.

The night after we left Senegal, I participated in a Coffee House–which is like a mini-talent show. I performed with the Traveling Troupe, the ship’s improv troupe. Though our practices are never particularly good, our performance that night was great! We did the Dating Show improv sketch, which some of you might be familiar with. I was the Bachelorette, and my roommate Lisa, our friend Billy, and our friend Alondra were the quirky contestants. Kat was the host. I was sent out of the room for a while as the contestants and the audience chose their quirks, and when I came back in, I was supposed to ask the contestants questions. Instead, I demanded they write a song for me, list all the things they like about me, and summarize their favorite Disney movie. They did those things, and I was able to accurately guess that Lisa enjoyed eating her various body parts, Alondra was in love with her imaginary friend, and Billy enjoyed wearing his mom’s undergarments. I do not know how I was able to guess those things, but I did it! It was so funny, and really a great experience. People are still coming up to me and complimenting me on it.

The next day, we had a Halloween Dance. For the first hour of the dance, I was actually recording vocals for the Semester at Sea music video. Some students wrote the song, and they, in conjunction with Dan the Music Man, are working on recording the instrumentals and vocals. I have another recording session later tonight for the song. Anyway, once I finished recording, I dressed in my pirate costume. I know, a pirate on a ship. How original. It was all I had! Don’t judge. The dance was really fun, despite the DJ not being very good. The only songs I actually knew the whole night were I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Dancing Queen, and I’m on a Boat. That’s sad. It was still really fun, though, and I enjoyed seeing other people’s costumes. I fully believe that a good judge of character is how involved people get in Halloween. I prefer to befriend people who go all out. They are the most fun.

Two days before yesterday, and the day after SAS Halloween, we crossed the equator and participated in Neptune Day, a Semester at Sea (and many other naval groups) tradition. We were woken at 7:30am by the crew, who paraded through the hallways of the ship drumming, whistling, and shouting. They wore red wigs, face paint, and togas made from bed sheets. I have a video I will share at some point. It was hilarious, and somewhat irritating. I mean, I was sleeping! Rude… I went to breakfast since I was already awake, and as soon as I finished my daily bowl of oatmeal, we were asked to change into our swimsuits and go to the pool deck. When I got there, I was greeted with professors, Life Long Learners, and dependent children dressed in togas. Our Executive Dean was dressed in a toga and standing next to the captain of the ship, who was painted green, wore a long, curly, white wig, and held a trident. We were told we were going to go through a set of trials to shed our pollywog status and become shellbacks, or sons of Neptune. And contrary to popular belief, those are not Pokemon.

First, they dumped green fish goo on us. We then jumped into the pool and swam across. Once we got out, we had to kiss a dead fish, and then kiss the rings of the captain and our dean–who represented Neptune and Amphitrite. They mistakenly referred to our dean as Minerva, but I let it slide. We then went to a different section of the ship where people were getting their heads shaved. It is a tradition when crossing the equator for the first time to shave one’s head. Around 40 of the ship’s men–ages ranging from 7 to 80–shaved their heads. 10 women–ages ranging from 18 to 30–shaved their heads completely. Then there were multiple ladies like me who half-shaved their heads. I have been thinking of doing it since April, and I decided now was the time. I kind of think it would have been amazing to completely shave my head, but I know I would have regretted not trying the half shave first. Maybe when the shaved part starts to grow out I will shave the rest.

The night before last, our a capella group, Treble at C, performed Amazing Grace at a voyage seminar about the song Amazing Grace and the slave trade. The lyricist of Amazing Grace was actually the captain of a slave ship. He went through difficult times on the ship, and wrote the song as a reaction to his time as a captain. The song is filled with irony, yet it is heralded as one of the greatest English songs in history. We were sent a lovely email from the man who gave the presentation after our performance. He told us his eyes were filled with tears from our rendition, and that he almost could not give his presentation because we were so amazing. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed by his response.

I have also been rehearsing a Belly Dance piece for the talent show later in the voyage, as well as an Afro-Brazilian dance piece for the next pre-port logistical meeting. I am in the process of planning an open mic night for women to share poems, songs, dances, and art pieces about their experiences as women throughout life as well as during Semester at Sea, specifically. I went to a spoken word performance yesterday by one of the women on the ship who has been a mentor to me throughout the semester, and I was inspired to make an event in which all women can share. We hope to host it after Brazil. I have also been working on articles for SAS’s newspaper, The Giant Squid. I have one article in it about the United States Presidential Election thus far, and I am in the process of writing another one about musicians on the ship and their perspective of music in port as well as the universality of music. So yeah. I am busy, busy, busy! I have no time to waste!

Also, if you are interested, I wrote a blog post for Kent State’s Women’s Center’s Blog: https://ksuwomenscenter.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/thoughts-of-a-feminist-abroad/ I have not yet seen it, as I have no internet, but I am very excited to see it once I get to Brazil!


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