Wow! It has been a quick second since I’ve written on here. Well, nothing has happened and nothing is new, so I’ll talk to you again in another 3 years. Bye.
Just kidding. A lot has happened. Since the last time I wrote, here is a list of the major items:
- We moved to Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Wisconsin State Capital, the University of Wisconsin, the country’s best farmer’s market, & cheese, brats, and beer
- I spent two weeks in Mexico exploring Mexico City, Puebla, Cholula, and Oaxaca
- I took a job as a Financial Analyst with Exact Sciences in Madison and worked there for a year and a half. It’s the company that makes the preventative colon cancer screening device. You may recognize it from the little box in the commercials.
- I started a bicycle tour company called Weekend Wisconsin Bike Tours and I fell in love with being a Tour Director/Tour Guide
- Chika and I traveled to Cuba and absolutely loved visiting Havana, Trinidad, the Bay of Pigs, and Varadero
- We hit our 1-year mark of living in one place (Madison). This was the longest continuous streak I had lived in one city since I graduated high school, a mere 9 years earlier.
- I proposed to Chika in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and we spent almost 9 months as an engaged couple
- I completed a Tour Director certification with the International Guide Academy (IGA) in Denver and became a Certified International Tour Manager (CITM)
- Chika completed the Wisconsin Ironman (I list it because I take most of the credit by my active lifestyle of drinking coffee and avoiding my blog while she would do her 8-hour training days)
- We got married on September 17th, 2016, in Chicago, IL. This was the best weekend. 30 of our closest friends and family came together at our rented house, a Cubs game (the Cubs have never lost the World Series while we are a married couple), an evening at the Second City comedy club, Chicago-style pizza, and a Lincoln Park patio ceremony under a pergola and surrounded by ivy and simple decorations.
- We spent two weeks in Mexico for our honeymoon and explored Tulum, Coba, Chichen Itza, Valladolid, Akumal, and a few days at a resort in Playa del Carmen. Between the ruins, the ceviche, the snorkeling with turtles, the colonial cities, and the relaxing resort, it was glorious.
- We spent two weeks in Japan visiting Chika’s family in Tokyo, including two different wedding reception meals, and also hiking part of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
- I began working as a Tour Director with a student tour company and a few smaller adult tour companies. I’ve never been so pleased with the work that I do. I love the people. I love the knowledge that I need to know about America’s best cities like New York, Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago. I love being outside, a world away from a cubicle. I love going to Broadway shows, Red Sox games, and the White House. It’s been simply incredible.
And that leads us to now. Now is the reason I decided to start writing again. Chika and I are starting an adventure unlike any other that we’ve had before. It’s Semester at Sea.
About six months ago, Chika received a job offer with Semester at Sea, an organization she has been talking about since pretty much the day I met her. Semester at Sea is a study abroad program in which university students live and study on a ship that almost literally goes around the world. The students take classes while on the ship and receive credits from Colorado State University, and the ship ports in various countries where passengers can then explore for typically around five days. We will spend the Fall semester on the MV World Odyssey with almost 600 college students, 60 faculty and staff, and the ship’s crew. We start in Bremerhaven, Germany, on September 9th and arrive in San Diego, California, on December 23rd.
Hamburg, Germany: Sep 2-6
Bremerhaven, Germany: Sep 6-9
Barcelona, Spain: Sep 15-18
Accra, Ghana: Sep 27-30
Capetown, South Africa: Oct 7-12
Port Louis, Mauritius: Oct 19
Cochin, India: Oct 25-30
Yangon, Myanmar: Nov 4-8
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Nov 14-18
Shanghai, China: Nov 24-29
Kobe, Japan: Dec 2-6
Honolulu, Hawaii: Dec 16
San Diego, California: Dec 23
Time for a little FAQ about the trip:
What will you be doing on the ship?
All credit goes to Chika for earning the job offer as Resident Director with the Student Life team on the voyage. She has worked very hard in her career and has established a great reputation across all of Student Life, and it shows with the job offer in such a competitive position.
Chika will be a Resident Director on Semester at Sea. Whereas the student life teams are usually segmented on large campuses (Orientation, Advising, Residence Life, Student Organizations, etc.), the student life team on SaS is much more compact. This means that Chika’s role is diverse in what she is doing, encompassing many parts of student life. She will have almost 100 students in her community, and she is essentially responsible in creating an environment where students gain as much as possible from their SaS experience. No pressure. She is amazing at what she does, and she is going to be great.
There are a handful of jobs for which partners/spouses can apply, and I was offered a position as the Administrative Assistant for Communications. I will be working with the Assistant Executive Dean (who is amazing, by the way. PS check out her Peadoodles). My primary responsibility is creating and publishing the daily Deans’ Memo which contains the Captain’s report, events on the ship, announcements, and more. I will also help out with the Pre-Port presentation, the Visitors List, and more. The Deans’ Memo is published on the intranet (called Homeport) as well as the monitors around the ship. I hope my Mom’s court reporting skills were genetically passed down to me for the writing and editing I’ll be doing (Hi, Mom!).
Can I track your voyage?
Yes! We will be aboard the MV World Odyssey, which is used by a Germany luxury cruise ship in the summer months (hence the different name). You can track the ship here.
Don’t you get seasick?
Yes!!!!! I’ve been deathly seasick several times, like on the catamaran to Koh Tao in Thailand, on a boat to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and on a small wooden boat to the islands in Lake Titicaca. However, the silver lining is that I was able to do pretty well crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica. I realized a few years ago that some of my favorite places have been experienced after becoming horribly seasick. Maybe one long voyage around the world will be the best of them all? Just in case, I brought Dramamine and Transderm patches.
Will you have internet on the ship?
Like all great answers, it’s a “Yes, but…”. Yes, but it’s extremely slow and I am to only use it for work purposes. I do, however, have access to email. So send me all the messages you want. Just don’t send me those forwards that cause bad luck if you don’t send them to 27 people within the next six minutes. I have had too much bad luck for not forwarding those.
What will you do after the semester ends?
We will be heading back to Madison! I hear it’s lovely in January, so I’ll bring my sandals and swimming trunks.
What are you most excited about?
There are a few things that I’m most excited about. The first is to be living in what I’ll call a self-contained community. The 650ish on board are all in this together, all moving around the globe at the same speed. We will be disembarking at the same countries for the same amount of time, and we will all bring back our unique stories of our adventures. We will all experience the 25-foot swells together. We will eat at the same dining hall, go to the same evening events, and attend the same pre-port meetings. And we will all essentially be without internet access, as it’s very expensive for students to purchase and use. Think about a world where almost 600 students, almost all born between 1996 and 1998, are unable to Snapchat or Instagram. This is it.
Semester at Sea offers over 200 in-country field programs throughout the voyage. Think of these like organized educational tours in each of the countries. For almost every field program, they need a Trip Liaison, someone who essentially acts as the Tour Director on the trip. They do hire a local guide for the commentary, but the Trip Liaison is responsible for ensuring things are going smoothly, for many logistical purposes, and for the safety of the students. This being my beloved career, I am so excited for the trips I was offered. I will be traveling to see the Taj Mahal in India, I will be hiking the Great Wall of China, and I will be trekking in Sapa in northern Vietnam. Not only will they be incredible trips, but this is great international experience that will boost my career.
This post was brought to you by Jet Lag, causing the writer to wake up at 2AM and continue to be wide awake in order to write this post. Lots and lots of coffee will keep me going today as we visit Hamburg and Luneburg!