A little over 7 years ago, I was on the waiting list for a program called Semester at Sea (SAS). I had chosen New Zealand as my second choice. It was 7pm the night before I had to make my decision about New Zealand when I got a call from SAS...there was space for me on the ship!!! I could not be more excited!! Little did I know it was a trip that would change my life forever!
I packed, flew to Vancouver and boarded the ship that I was going to call home for the next 100 days.
The first night, the captain announced that we would be hitting some bad weather and we should take whatever sea sickness medicine we brought. As days went on, the seas started to get worse and worse, the waves bigger and bigger. Life on-board the MV Explorer started to get difficult. We could barely eat because the food would be sliding back and forth across the table. In class, you would fall off your chair. One night the grand piano flipped over!! People were sick for days (somehow, I avoided this). We were not even allowed outside.
On the night of January 26th, right before we were going to pass the international dateline, the weather was VERY bad. Nobody was sleeping, we were all being tossed around. The night stand next to my bed had broken away from the wall and was rolling back and forth. After flying around for a few hours, an announcement came on and said something like "brace yourselves, we are going to turn the ship", then we turned. A few seconds later, another announcement "Everyone put your life jacket vests on immediately and get into the hall!!!!". Apparently, once the ship was turned, a 60 foot rouge wave hit us head on and broke the windows to the bridge.
This isn't the SAS wave, but what a rogue wave looks like.
We spent hours in our pajamas and life jackets. I was sure it was the end. When they started to give away the expensive food, I really knew we were in trouble. When they separated the boys and girls, I just gave up. We've all seen Titanic. We bounced around for a while, then changed directions and found smoother seas. We missed our stops in Korea and Japan and had to go to Hawaii while we waited for the ship to be repaired.
After our "wave day", we embraced life, the journey and everything the world had to offer. Skydiving in South Africa, riding camels in Kenya, climbing mountains, meeting amazing people, learning about new and exciting food (yep, this is when I ate dog), and experiencing life from the a different view. Little did I know that my entire perspective on life had changed.
I give SAS credit for my life today. It encouraged me to take another trip around the world with a close friend, stopping to teach English in Thailand. That led me to my graduate program in International Disaster Psychology. IDP helped me get my dream job in International Adoption. SAS is the ingredient in my life that has kept me moving, exploring new cultures, meeting new people, and teaching me more and more about myself along the way. And now, it steered me towards where I am now, Norway!! I would tell anyone considering to DO IT!
Videos of Wave Day!!