Around the World in 105 Days
15 March 2017
28.22 S, 37.16 E
For Cottey alum, traditions are typically at the forefront of their best Cottey C memories. From tearful serenades to amusing entertainment, the relationship between the freshmen and seniors is remembered long past the daisy chain of graduation day. As a third-year student, I have shared in a number of incredible Cottey traditions that will stay with me forever and have become pinacle to my Cottey experience.
At Semester at Sea, I am discovering new traditions that are making my experience even more extraordinary. About a week ago, we crossed the equator on our way from India to Mauritius. When crossing the equator for the first time, it is tradition to be “initiated” from a Pollywog to a Trusty Shellback during a line-crossing ceremony. So, in following tradition, the crew, staff, and faculty organized “Neptune Day.”
The students were awakened on our “No Class Day” by staff who repeatedly pounded on our doors and on hand drums before hearing an announcement over the intercom telling us to don our swimsuits and make our way to the pool deck. Upon arrival, we were greeted by King Neptune – our ship’s captain – who was covered from head to toe in bright green paint and wore a grass skirt with a long white beard and wig. Our initiation consisted of having green seawater poured over our heads before we jumped into the pool.
However, the fun didn’t end there, as the next step was to kiss a fish (yes, a REAL fish) before kissing the ring of King Neptune and honoring Minerva (our assistant executive dean, Sunny). For the bravest Shellbacks, they had the opportunity to have their heads shaved, keeping in tradition with many line-crossing initiation processes. While I did not shave my head, many students – including young women with long locks – chose to do so in the spirit of Neptune Day.
The traditions continued this week, as the shipboard community competed in the Sea Olympics. Each hall of cabins was divided into one of the seven designated “seas,” which came together for a day of friendly competitions. Each sea was represented by a color, so as a part of the Arabian Sea, I was decked out in bright orange for the day. With events ranging from tug of war to synchronized swimming to a scavenger hunt, the ship was covered in people wearing bright colored t-shirts as they competed for the title of the winning sea. The day ended with a lip sync contest, which reminded me of an annual Cottey tradition where students choreograph and perform fun dances to go along with familiar tunes. For SAS, each sea had practiced a dance routine to go along with a ’90s music theme, and the hard work certainly paid off, as the performances were full of impressive dance moves and acrobatics. The spirit of the seven seas was bright and loud as the students, staff, and faculty performed in the final event of the day.
Much like Cottey, the SAS traditions have helped to form a unique community among those on the ship. Despite the rivalrous spirits and tough competitions throughout the Sea Olympics, the students, faculty, staff, life-long learners, and dependent students all came together as one community, encouraging and supportive of one another. The traditions of SAS, much like Cottey, aid in solidifying and increasing the tight-knit bonds that we have formed during our time on the MV WorldOdyssey. Memories like Neptune Day and the Sea Olympics will stick with me long past my time on the ship. With the Arabian Sea chant perpetually stuck in my head, SAS reminds me everyday to be grateful for the incredible opportunity with which I have been presented – there is not another like it. After all, it’s not everyday that you kiss a fish.