Got outside just as we pulled into Osaka. It looked like a nice city. They had made it out like it was going to be crappy. It had a huge Ferris Wheel and suspension bridge. We ate and went back to bed, the ship wasnít going to be clear until at least 1100. I did get up for the welcome reception. They urged us to go, they said it was really going to be nice. Well, it sucked! I should have stayed in bed. I had to meet my homestay family at 1300 so I had about two hours to kill. I tried to find a post office buy had a hard time. When I did find it I spent most of my money just on postage. It was nearly 10 dollars in postage. Either was it was all taken care of so I went back to the ship to change. After I had, I went to the Union to wait for my family to arrive. I met Jimmy there, he had gotten a package in the mail from Rualdo. He had shipped the atlas he wrote. It was huge and came with a CD ROM disk too. It was a incredible work. I ended up talking to Darren for a while. I donít really like him, he is just too much of a dope for me. He was practicing how to say, "Hello, my name is Darren" before his family got there. He is such a retard. Soon enough the family got there. I could tell straight off that communication was going to be a major problem. They knew very little English. I was staying with the Wada family. Mrs. Wada was here with a friend of hers (I never did get her friends name). It was hard at first not being able to talk to them but it did get easier. They did a short introduction of the Hippo family exchange program. They listen to these audio tapes in 14 different languages that say something like, "Iím a Hippo, youíre a Hippo, we are all Hippos." They said it in a couple of different languages. All that went on through the whole program really showed the Japanese collective consciousness. It was all done in the "we are one" mindset. It was exactly what I expected from what we talked about in Cross Cultural Psychology. Belongingness in the group was stressed. After the presentation we played these two games. The first was this one where you would hold hands in a circle, do these hand gestures and clapping sing "1,2,3,4,5,6,7. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7. 1,2,3. 1,2,3 1,2,3,4,5,6,7" then they would call out a number and you would have to break u into a group of that number. Anyone left out of a group got laughed and pointed at but after than everyone would be let back in and the whole process would start again. We played this for nearly 10 minutes. All the Japanese laughed and looked totally comfortable in an activity like this. The SASers on the other hand looked nervous and uncomfortable. It really showed the differences between the individualistic and collective mind sets. The nest game was this one where we had to spell out L-O-V-E with our hands while singing a song. It would get faster and faster then start again. The Japanese all worked with us to get the group to act as one. Again it showed the collective identity of the Japanese. Where the Americans looked at home during the personal interaction at the beginning, the Japanese were most at home during the group part of the presentation. We left right after it ended because she had to pick her children up at school. We took the train to where they lived. Public transit is great in Japan, we should have something like that in the US. I forgot that they had been given biography information about me. She mentioned about my father being a carpenter. Her father was as well, she said he built houses. I explained that he and I both work for Ford Motor Company. At first she didnít understand but when she did she seemed impressed. The Japanese value that kind of thing greatly. What company you belong to is very important. She also wanted to know what type of music I liked. I said western classical and folk music first. She like both. Her husband plays the guitar and she likes classical. When I mentioned that my favorite composer was J.S. Bach she got so excited, he was hers too. Glen Gould was her favorite pianist, I also like him very much. It seemed very important to her to build belongingness between us. It was a short walk from the train station to her house. Once we got there she did another thing that was very Japanese. She talked about how small her house is and how shocked I must be at it. I gave the expected response that I wasnít shocked and it wasnít so small. It was small but it was my duty in that situation to praise her and the household. That is just something they do. Her oldest son was already home but she needed to pick the youngest one up. I grabbed my Frisbee and Suisai and I rode their bikes to the public park. It was a little strange at first to play with him but I broke out the disk and tossed around for a while. After a couple of minutes Mrs. Wadaís friend showed up with her two children. That eased the situation up a bit. The more kids the better they felt. We tossed for a while then did his thing with pine needles where you and the other person lock needles then pull to see whoís breaks and whoís doesnít (it was sort of like breaking a wishbone). We then ran around the park and climbed around on all the stuff. We did the swings, see-saw, and all the other stuff. We rode to another part of the park to some other stuff. After a little while we rode back to the house. She wasnít back so we waited outside for a while and looked at their flower garden and stuff. After not too long she came back, she had gone to the park but must have just missed us. We hung around the house for a while while Suisai went to the store to get dinner. I wrote a little bit and tried to talk to the youngest son Ginga. After that I showed they some pictures on my website. They were very interested to see pictures of the family. I was lucky to have that at my disposal. Her husband was an artist but is currently working as an Internet provider. She thought he would be interested in seeing it too. He didnít get home until about 1830. We tried to talk for a while before dinner but his English was no better than hers. It wasnít bad though. The dinner was fairly interesting, we had red wine and those thinly cut pieces of beef cooked in soy with sugar and some other seasonings. Then you had a bowl where you cracked open a raw egg, mixed it up, then dipped the meat in. She had asked if I could eat this type of egg several times but she didnít know the word for raw so I was a bit shocked. I had to laugh though, I can imagine the look on my momís face if she had seen me doing that. After the meat they cooked u other typed so vegetables in the cooker. It was all delicious, we even had some more meat after the vegetables. After dinner he took out his guitar and played a couple Bob Dylan songs. I played Suisai at chess. He was good for only seven years old, though I did beat him. He even knew about castling, I didnít learn that until a couple of years ago. I was very impressed. I forgot to say that it was Mr. Wada who did all the cooking. After chess I took them upstairs and showed them my homepage. I think he was fairly impressed but I think he was most impressed with the fact that I did everything for free. She said several times that my mother was very beautiful. After that I showed him the Tripod system of building webpages. He was impressed that you didnít need to know anything about HTML to make a site. I typed in my passwords and such so they could see it but I wasnít much good at explaining it, they changed the system all up on me. I felt kind of dumb but what can you do. After that we talked for a while but it was very hard to take anything from it. He seemed to think psychology was going to be an important major in the 21st century. He said something very interesting, it was something to the effect of, "Knowing the heart will be very important in the next century." He didnít say knowing the mind like we would have in the west. In traditional Japan it was the heart that controlled thinking and memory. I didnít really think about that until now. At first I didnít think they were a traditional family at all, and in many way they were not. However, you could see that tradition still influenced then in many ways. It is very interesting society, Iím glad I got a more in depth knowledge about Japan in Cross Cultural Psychology. I did go to bed soon after that. I had to yawn, so they said I should get to bed. I agreed, I was very tired. I wanted to get up early tomorrow anyway so it was best that I get to sleep.
I got up around 0715 and ate breakfast with the family. They had sausage broccoli, and cheese. I was surprised that they were all eating together. I think they were equally as surprised that we, in my house, do not. They all leave the house at around 0800, so they all eat together. They really have a sense of togetherness. I wonder how many people in the US donít eat any meals together. They all left after that so I took a quick shower. We went to these Japanese gardens after we picked up her friend. It was a very beautiful place. We met Heather and her family there so we walked around with them. They had carp in the ponds that were around the gardens. One of the kids had fish pellets so we stopped to feed them for a while. That was a lot of fun, those fish are really neat. There were a lot of school kids there too. I guess it was a major field trip day or something. We took some group pictures at one of the fountains then walked over for some Japanese tea. It was fairly good. Before you drank you had to rotate the cup three times clockwise. When you were finished you turned it three times counterclockwise. There was this huge crane that flew into the pond while we were there. I had never seen one so large before. After the tea thing was finished we got in the cars and headed to a restaurant for lunch. It was a neat place, very Japanese style. Each party got its own room with personal waitress. The table was only about 6-8 inches off of the ground so you had to sit on the floor. This was something Heather and I were not accustomed to. Everyone else there sat on their knees but Heather and I just couldnít do it. It was killing me to sit there. We got these shrimp covered in something which you put in a bowl of noodles. It was very good. We talked for a while about some of the differences between the US and Japan. My host mother asked about what blood type I had. I said AB+ then asked why she would ask such a question. I forgot that the Japanese are very superstitious. You can tell a personís personality through their blood type. Someone with AB+ is usually a very shy and introverted person. That is the same thing that Cancer says I should be so she was very interested in that. I had never heard anything about that but I think it sounds interesting. Standing up after sitting for that long was quite a chore, my legs were so stiff. We drove back to drop off her friend (man I wish I remembered her name!) then we went on to this Shinto shrine. It was a very interesting place. There were stone lanterns all over the grounds then this large arched bridge to get to the main temples. There were lots of turtles in the water under the bridge. The three main temples were dedicated to the gods of the sea. I thought it was a very appropriate temple to go to. We put coins into the first Temple, put our hands together, bowed our heads, and wished for good luck. We walked around for a while then got some pictures taken. We also got my fortune read. You put in some money then shake up this wooden box with these numbered sticks in them. You pull one out then take a piece of paper with that number on it. She was very excited as I pulled it out, she said, "OhhhhÖ I hope itís good." When I showed her the piece of paper (I think my number was 21) she seemed real happy and said it was good. The language barrier was rough but I think it had something to do with whatever seeds you were planting now would blossom in the future even though not right away. I think she took that to mean my education right now. We then walked out and tied it to a tree so that it might come true. As we walked around some more, she explained that the lanterns were lit at different times of the year depending on what each represented. We almost got lost on the way back buy we made it fine. She left to pick up the kids at school soon after we got back. When she returned she went and got a box from upstairs for me. It had this mask that her husband had made. It was very nice, I felt bad taking it. I knew I was now in an On relationship. I went and got the things I had for them but I felt in debt to them. Not long after that, it was time to go. We all got in their car and drove back to the ship. In a way kids are all the same, they were begging their mom to let them to the Toys-R-Us. I had to laugh at that. When we got back on the ship I took them around the ship. I took them to just about everywhere except for our room. That just wouldnít be good, I couldnít take them to the condomble house. I think that they enjoyed the on deck part the most. From the observation deck you had an excellent view of the city. I took them to the way front, they had seen the Titanic so I pointed out where they would have been on the front. They liked that very much. She said it must be very romantic. I also took them down to the dining room for something to eat. They had been interested in what we eat on the ship so I figured I would take them. I also thought that I could get them in for free, but that didnít happen. The head waiter came up to me and told me I would have to pay for them. She figured it out that he was going to make me pay for it and was very apologetic. She wanted to pay for it. I lied to her and said he just wanted to check if they were homestay people or not. I think that made her feel better. The kids enjoyed the food very much so it was worth it. We said our good-byes and they left. I was going to meet Jimmy and a couple of girls at 2000 but I knew they were not going to be there on time. I walked around until 2000 then came back for 20 minutes and headed out again. They were doing camera stuff so I knew not to expect them back for a while. You can not let Jimmy alone in a camera shop, you will never get him out. I walked around for a while longer but turned in by 2230. I was just dead tired. I cleaned up and put out the mast that they gave me. I really enjoyed my homestay. It was neat.
Jimmy and I both got up at 0800 so we decided to out together. One of the first things he said was, "Where did you get that bad ass mask!" I told hi about my homestay and how they gave it to me. He was jealous. We also did a little money exchange. He had needed money but the ATM machine only let him take out 80 USD. He was eager to get rid of some of it. I took 20 dollars worth. I hoped that would last me the final two days. We were going to pick up some slide film he dropped off the day before. We didnít know if we should get a day pass or not. We decided against it. We headed to the Shin Osaka station and got off. We walked around for quite some time before we started to ask people where it was. It turns out it was in a totally different station. Jimmy paid for the train ride so I wasnít all that angry. I was just annoyed that we were wasting time. He knew it was the right station as soon as we got there but we couldnít find the building. As soon as we found it we started to have more troubles. They did not mount the slides like he had wanted. Then they said mounting the slides would be a lot extra. It would end up being more than he could put on his credit card. So they argued over that for over and hour. He said he had asked if they were mounted and they said yes. The Japanese have the tendency to say yes when they do not understand. It makes things difficult sometimes, especially if you are doing business. They argued and argued and I got more and more annoyed. We were wasting so much time just standing around in a mall. Finally they gave him the frames but he would have to mount them himself. It was a sweet deal that he worked out. Mounting the slides would take time but each person could do them on their own. We headed out at around 1230. We didnít know how long the walk would be, there was no scale on the map. We kept a quick pace but we got there before either of us expected. It looked far but it didnít take us more than 10 minutes to the first place we wanted to go. We crossed the river to the rose garden. It was much better than I had expected. We walked around for a long time just absorbing the environment. Jimmy took a ton of roles of film. It was fun trying to find the perfect flower to shoot. It was the most color film I think he has shot in any port so far. The place was beautiful. We got popsickles and walked around to an open park. The one I got was disgusting, it was red bean (it even had beans in it). Jimmy got and Ice Guy, We would have more experience with them later. I had brought my Frisbee with me so we tossed around for a while. It was fun to toss the Japan though no one joined in like they would have done in the US. After a while we kept walking. We crossed the river and stopped in this little side restaurant. The prices were not bad at all. We got Sushi and a bowl of curry soup for only about 800 Yen. I had expected to drop that much per person, I was presently surprised. It was good food at a good price, we lucked out finking that place. We soon ended up in another park. We walked past some tennis courts, these people were playing doubles and on the serve this guy hit his partner right in the head. We both had to laugh, you could not help it. We went down to the waters edge and had a beedi. It was cool just sitting there watching the boats go by and the fish jump. Osaka is a really nice city, they made it out to be this really crappy place. I was pleasantly surprised. From there we crossed over the river, heading for Osaka Castle. Turns out we were right there, it was right around the corner. It was a huge place. We walked around the edge of the moat for a while. We had just enough money to get home, got to the IMAX, get back to the castle tomorrow, and get in. No money to eat or do anything else, we were cutting it very close. So we headed back to the ship to eat and get tickets. We went to see "Into the Deep" in 3D. We both expected it to be action packed but it turned out not to be. It was also all in Japanese. The previews were the most entertaining part. There was this one with a dinosaur chasing you. When the music cut, one of the little kids was crying in fear. We all laughed. Jimmy stole the 3D glasses from the theater. The Ferris wheel was the most impressive part of the sky line. It changed colors and had flashing lights. I would have liked to ride it but we didnít have the money. I tried to take some pictures of it but I doubt that they will come out. It was another early night. Iíd say that I was asleep by 2200.
Well, it didnít take long but it is our final day in port. It seems like yesterday we started, yet is also feels like a thousand years ago. We headed out at about 0845 which was a little later than I would have liked. I wanted to get out earlier but we were waiting for Ryan but he wasnít feeling well. We were hoping to change 10 dollars so that we could eat and get some post cards and stuff. Unfortunately nothing is open on Sunday. We couldnít change money anywhere, so we were more or less stuck. Either way we got to the Castle by 0945. It sucked, the weather was not looking nice. It had started to rain soon after we got there. We me Dean Kohler where. We talked about where we were from and what we thought about CORE. He started talking about how much better it had been lately. I didnít have the nerve to say that I hadnít gone to CORE since Salvador. It was then that I heard this strange rapping noise. It was coming from this building to our left. We walked over and there were these guys dressed in helmets and breast plates fighting with these bamboo swords. We had to go in. Evidently there was a competition going down that weekend. Again another stroke of dumb luck works in our favor. We stayed there for almost two hours. In all that time I couldnít figure out how they scored points. It would begin with them bowing and crouching down with their swords out. One o f the three judges would blow the whistle and they would start. It was cool, they would try trash talking when they got close together. If one of them could whack the other on top of the head he would jump back, raise his sword in the air and scream. I also didnít know how they broke up who fought who. There were 5 or 6 people on a side but how they went from was a mystery. There was this one match with this guy not 5 feet tall against this other guy how was at least 6í 2". It really looked goofy but it ended in a draw so it wasnít that uneven after all. I tried to take some pictures but I donít think they will come out. The light was just too low. We stayed until about 1230. I almost thought that one of my shoes got stolen, but it was just kicked to the side. Jimmy needed some interaction shots with me talking to some of the sword fighters so we did that. After he got a couple we sat on the wall of the Castle to eat the pears I had brought. Out there we met some senior passengers. We told them about how we had no money so they gave us about 1000 Yen. That was very helpful, we could now get into the castle and still have some money left at the end. So we walked in towards it. There we met Jen and another SAS girl with two Japanese girls they had met. As we were leaving Jimmy said something in French and kissed Jenís hand. The Japanese girls thought that was the most wonderful thing ever. They had to get their hands kissed too. They said the Castle was pretty good so we did go in. We did walk around it before we went in. It turns out the thing pretty much sucked. Maybe it was the mood I was in but I just didnít want to read all the plaques and diagrams. Usually I like that kind of stuff but today I just didnít find it interesting. They view from the top was nothing spectacular either. It was all fenced off so no one could throw anything I guess. It was fairly lame. We walked down and looked at the exhibits but they just didnít do it for me. After we left I thought that we would be able to get something to eat cheap but we never found anything. Everything is closed in Japan on Sunday. Not even touristy places were open. Our pace was dreadfully slow, we were so tired and hungry. We hit a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine. The temple had been extremely influenced by the west. It looked just like a Christian church. It only had three Buddhas and even they looked like Christ. We only stayed long enough to rest for a while then it was on to the shrine. We had a little trouble getting there and when we did it wasnít all that great. It had no translations in English so after we looked we soon left. The one we went to yesterday was nice. It was dedicated to this Philosopher/Poet guy who was worshipped as a saint-like thing. I donít know that much about Shinto so I canít say how it works but they had dioramas of scenes from his life and they had English on them so it was easy to understand the basics. It wasnít as nice as the one that my homestay people took me to but it was good. We got back on the subway to get back to the ship after that. On ship time was 1800. We got back with about 40 minutes and a couple hundred Yen to kill. I got some post cards then we went into some grocery stores to find Ice Guys. I bought two myself and Jimmy got me two more after that. Man were they good! They were the coffee-like ice cream in a plastic container. WE cleaned out the whole store. We spread the word about Ice Guys to every SASer who walked down the street. I think we were just a bit hyperactive. This Japanese photography student took our pictures with the Ice Guys too. It was just a really fun half hour. When we finally got back on the ship we turned our passports in for the last time, then went on deck to smoke the last of my Monte Cristoís. We sat out and talked to people about what they did. We met Andy who was totally trashed. It was his 21st birthday and he was very liquored up. We went to get dinner after that, then putzed around until snacks and talked. We were all tired so we were in bed by 2400 I think. It was strange knowing we didnít have any more ports. It also sucked because I hadnít done any work all semester, now I had 6 papers to write in about 5 days. Itís now time to kick it back into a school frame of mind. We havenít really had an extended period of classes since after Kenya. Itís going to be hard having to work again. Iím not looking forward to it at all.
Getting a computer is not looking good. Everyone on the ship is in the same boat as me, no one has done any work until now. Iím lucky because Andy has a laptop but even that is hard to use. So Iím putting myself on nightshift time, itís really my only option. Today is an A day though so Iíve got to get up for class. That sucked because I canít sleep all day. I checked out books from the library for my geology independent project. That shouldnít be that hard because it will be right from the book. It will just take a lot of time. My papers are basically all going to be frauds. I started a geology paper on a trip to Kobe that I never did. I also did a little work on a psychology paper on Vietnam. Most of that is also made up. I got up for open mic and told a story about Andyís plastic beer. He had gotten it from a restaurant in Japan and had it sitting on our table. When I came in from Cross Cultural Psychology I almost flipped out. I thought he really had a beer in the room. I was thinking, "Where am I going to hide it!" but when I picked it up I realized it was plastic. Everyone laughed so it was another cool open mic. I just felt I had to lighten the mood. People didnít have that many fun stories about Japan. Jimmy and I are doing the same thing but we were too tired to say up the whole night. We got up at 0300 and went to the lab. I finished corrections on the geology paper and finished my Psychology paper by about 0700. What sucked was that I forgot about changing the clocks so I missed my B day class. We have to do a presentation to the class and write a one page paper about our journals. The worst part was that we got five extra credit points just for showing up in class. I was so angry for missing class. I handed my Kobe paper to Dr. Rock outside class and told him why I missed class. I went to be angry.
I donít know when one day ends and the next begins. I got up at around 1545 and did some corrections on my Vietnam Psychology paper. I used the laptop a little after dinner to start my geology independent project. Unfortunately Andy needed to use it for a while. I fell asleep at around 2300 and got up again at around 0100. I got so much work done. I finished the independent project, m one page journal write up, and another psychology paper. I worked all night, it was really nice. I remembered to set my clock ahead too so I didnít miss my 0800 class. I canít say I was really awake for it though, I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. But I did get my paper in so that was cool. Only three more papers to go.
I couldnít sleep all day, I had to get up for my 1255 class. It was good that I did get up though. I started Psychology paper #2 in the afternoon and had it done by dinner. Again, I took a little nap and worked all night. I got Psychology papers three and four done by morning. It was funny how many people were in the lab at 0400. I had to laugh at that. Everyone I so lazy until the last couple days of the semester. We set the clocks ahead again but I got to class on time.
Iím not sure where to separate this day because of the way I stayed up. I went straight from the computer lab to class where we were giving the group presentations. The first group was horrible. They had not prepared at all. They were also missing a couple people from their group, so they had to cover those people too. Dr. Rock ripped them up. He was very angry when they got done. He had wanted people to take it much more seriously than they did. We were the next group but we did much better. Thatís not to say we were that much more prepared but we were about to BS much better than the first group. The rest of the groups were just a blur. I had no interest in what they were saying at all. At the end the old hag that is in our class got up and insulted us. She said how pathetic we were at speaking and how our presentations sucked. Well you know whatÖ You suck!!! I hate that old woman, she never has anything constructive to say. Her comments are the most useless I have ever heard. We will be talking about wells and she will bet up and say something like, "In 1911 we bought a house with a well." And that will be it. No point, no nothing. I hate her. I left class fuming mad. We also had to hand in our journal today so Andy was going to wake me up at around 1415 when he got back from class. So I got up, finished up some loose ends in the journal and headed to the Union where Dr. Rock was. BFB was complaining about how hard he was grading but when I got up it was no problem. All it was was a quick glance to see if it was complete. He asked for highlights for you then said OK. You were out in under 3 minutes. It was so foggy outside that they were blowing the horn. Ryan and I went up on the top deck but it was just too cold and windy to say out for long. The outside temperatures are down to the low 40ís. Later on that night I made the final corrections on my last Psychology papers and printed out the final copies. Everything but finals is now out of the way. Only one more day of classes.
The First 5-21-99
Today was the last day of classes. I turned in my last Abnormal Psychology paper then did something I had never done before, I went to CORE in the Union. I hadnít been to CORE since March so it was strange seeing it again. It started out lame. Les McCabeís talk was horrible, it was so boring. Professor Fessler saved the day. He talked about going home but he did it in a way that you could relate to. Instead of saying, "You willÖ You haveÖ" he said, "You mayÖ You mightÖ" That leaves it open to your own interpretations. The open ended way of speaking got people interested unlike McCabe who everyone closed off to. It was the best talk in CORE Iíve ever heard, but being that I only went to about 13 out of 50 COREs I may not be the best judge. It seemed like he was using the hypnosis techniques he had talked about during his one Community College. I asked him if he had but he said, "No, thatís just how I talk." I let him know that everyone I talked to said it was their favorite speech in CORE. After Cross Cultural Psychology all class work was over. Now it was time for finals. The CORE one was tomorrow and I hadnít been to any COREs for this exam. I read the Other Voices, Other Vistas stories so that I could get the reading questions right. They sucked but they didnít take all that long. We got so lucky, we were afraid that no one was going to make a study sheet for the exam but we did get one eventually. It was the worst study guide I have ever seen but it at least gave us an idea about what was going to be on the exam. There were so many mistakes that it was laughable. It was like the person didnít even speak English as their first language. Some of the mistakes were outrageous. The Spanish American War did not end in 1946. It was a good thing that we were smart enough to know the mistakes and what the correct answers were. I would have been humiliated if I had made that sheet. It was a embarrassment to the English language. I read over it twice but that was all the studying I did. Some people were going crazy studying for this exam, everyone in the Union was going nuts. I couldnít believe that people were taking it so seriously. If you had half a brain you should at least get a C, and a C is all that most people need anyway. Another thing that was going down was the photography class selling pictures. Jimmy and I went through his pictures trying to find out which would sell the most. Truthfully I didnít think he would sell more than 5 or 6 pictures. I was shocked when they actually got put out. I thought that the Road Rules people would be the only ones to sell anything, but that wasnít the case. Even thought they were giving the money to charity, Jimmy managed to sell a lot. Next to Paul he sold the most in the class. 8 by 10ís sold for 10 dollars and 5 by 7ís sold for 7 dollars. By the end of the day he had made almost 500 dollars. He met and exceeded both our expectations. It was amazing, I was very happy for him. He was able to make back most of the money he spent on the class.
The Second 5-21-99
Because we crossed the international date line we had a second May 21st. My friend Tammyís birthday was on the 21st so she had two birthdays in a row. That was cool. The CORE exam was a joke. I aced it for sure. I was one of the first people done but I knew it was easy. I went to next to no COREs and am going to easily get an A. What a joke! Jimmy sold a bunch more pictures today. By the end of the day he had brought his total up to about 74 photos. The only bad thing about that was that he was going to have to live in the dark room for the last week. It would take forever to print that many. But when youíre bringing in about 700 dollars who cares. I missed lunch because our clocks got put ahead an hour. I was mad about that. Tonight was the Ambassadors Ball. No one in 414 had paid to get into the dinner part, but we all planned on going to the free part. There was no way I was going to spend 25 dollars on a stupid dinner. I didnít spend that much in some of the ports we went to. We had dinner in the grill, then I broke out the Salvation Army jacket for the first time. Dancing started at around 2100 and went until 0100. It was so long but it was really fun. I stayed form beginning to end. The last song was "New York, New York" by Sinatra. Everyone sang along and did a rockettes line at the end. It was a great way to end. In a way it was sad, the voyage was now almost over. We sat around outside for a while and acted goofy while we cooled off. After that we watched Austin Powers. The night had been really fun. I even got my picture taken with Jeffette. It was really cool.
Today was a study day for the A day finals. I had a chapter of Abnormal to read and about eight short ones from Cross Cultural to read. I played the Double Fish at ping-pong and got my butt kicked. I never did win a game against Andy on this trip. After that I studied some more. At Pitt I would have put much more time into it but I did do a lot for the ship. Work just isnít the biggest priority on the ship. I felt prepared going in to them. They were all essay so I felt like I should do well. Abnormal would be the hardest of the two but because we covered so many disorders. We played a little Nintendo and got snacks but nothing was really going on. I ended up going to bed fairly early.
I think finals went fairly well. Like I figured, Abnormal was the hardest. Cross Cultural was a little easier because it was all essay and 3 of the 7 essays had been on things I wrote my papers on. I felt confident that I did well on both of them. The rest of the day was just a relaxing time. Jimmy had no finals so he was in the dark room the whole time. I hung around with Jenny for a while but no one was really around so I ended up going to bed fairly early.
Today was a study day for B day finals. I only had one so it didnít take that long. They were playing movies non stop so we ended up staying awake all night. We must have seen about six movies. I couldnít believe how stupid Bill and Tedís Excellent Adventure was until I watched it at 0500.
The Geology exam want fairly well. I think Iíll end up with an A for the class. I was lucky on the essays. They were fairly open ended so I just wrote on what I had done my independent project. I was confident of what I did on the exam. I also got my grades back for my papers form all my classes. I got an A and a B on both my Psychology classís papers. I got Aís on both of my Geology ones even though I totally made them up. It was quite a joke. I was just glad that all my school work was over. I sold all my books back that I could today. I only got 25 dollars for four books. It sucked big time. Tonight was the last night at the bar. The line for drinks was horrendous. I had hoped to get something from the bar but there was no way I was waiting in that line. I hadnít gotten anything the whole voyage. I think I was one of the only ones not to. There was also dancing. The boat was really rocking, we had finally hit a storm. The alcohol and the rocking had everyone falling all over the dance floor. It was really funny. I had stood outside with Jimmy earlier today. The wind was so bad that by using my flannel like a sail I could lean forward like a skier. It was a very fun night.
I packed my stuff to go home today. It took me a lot longer than I thought it would. It wasnít that I had a ton of stuff, itís that all the stuff I had weighted a ton. I packed all of my stuff in my black suitcase but it weighted well over 125 pounds. The elephant and Buddha were the things giving me problems. I could fit them in something but then it was too heavy. I ended up splitting it up as best I could though the bags still were over 50 pounds. At least it was all put away. The worst things were the kites and the rice hat, I donít know what Iíll do with them. Jimmy and Andy donít have to pack now because they are moving boxes for the ship. I scored a little set of speakers for my walkman. People were throwing away a lot of good stuff. I didnít have to throw anything away of mine. I didnít get that much stuff. I also got my grades back today. I got an A in CORE, A- in Environmental Geology, an A in Cross Cultural Psychology, and a B+ in Abnormal Psychology. I couldnít believe the B+, I was so angry about that. I must have done horribly on the final. I had a 94% going into it. I was big time mad. Especially since I thought that I did well. He said he was passing out the exams tomorrow so I would have to wait until tomorrow to see what happened. Man was I angry. Jimmy, Dave and I went to Claireís room for a while. Overall I think Claire is a retard but she wasnít so bad tonight. We played Nintendo for a while until the machine broke. I sat out with Ryan, Alyce, Jill, and Heather for a while. The supply cabinet was open so I stole a big box of rice crispies. I knew they would be a hot item in the last two days. Snacks have gotten worse and worse in the last week. I got to bed around 0430.
I woke up in time to hear that they were calling seas to drop their luggage in the grill. I was lucky to get up then or I would have never known. Lugging my bags up there was bad, I can't even imagine some of these people with nine bags. What are they going to do? I guess all they can do is ship some of it home. I forgot that convocation was tonight after dinner. Steve, Shabby, Dawn, and Dalia were all graduating. That must be strange no to finish at your home school. I can't say it was the most exciting event I've ever been to. All the seniors came out in life-vests and rice hats. The speakers were the usual crappy "What have you learned?" stuff. There was a fairly bad rendition of We Are the World. It ended with America the Beautiful which was a little better. After it was over the night started. Everyone was getting addresses and taking pictures (with a break for snacks of course). I looked at some peoples pictures. I wanted to take a lot of pictures of people, I never take enough of my friends. We watched a movie and talked. I was dying at around 0230. I though a power map would be good, especially since I would be up for the next day too. Jimmy and I set our alarms to get up at 0430. I fell asleep right away.
Our last day had finally arrived. We were walking out of the room at about 0415. We had to bust out the Cohibas. It was our first one out of the bootleg boxes. We got some pictures with them on deck. They were really good. Steve, Dave, Jimmy, and I gave a moving rendition of America the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner. The sun coming up over the Olympic Mountains was an impressive sight. Claire was out there so we signed her book. I think everyone was on deck for the sunrise. I took quite a few pictures on deck. It was strange because you know in less than 6 hours you will never see most of your friends again. We all headed out on to the front observation deck. It was strange because all my good friends were out there. Ryan, Steve, Dave, Alyce, Shabby, Jenny and a few others who slip my mind right now. It was so nice out there; no wind, warm, man was it nice! You could see Seattle way off in the distance. We were up there until about 0600 when breakfast started but it was way too crowded. I went back out to the pool deck where the bongo man was playing his drums. That was really neat because I had listened to him play the day we left the Bahamas. The trip had seemed to have come full circle. I went back up to the top observation deck at around 0630 with Dave. I ended up staying out there for the rest of the time. I thought that we would be there by 0715 at the latest. We didn't end up getting there until nearly 0815. They played "America" by Neil Diamond over the ships intercom. The Road Rules helicopter was flying by the ship. They were the only ones who were allowed up on the top deck. There were a couple boats with parents on them circling the ship. There was a fire boat shooting water outside the port. I was surprised at how many peoples' parents had come out to Seattle. The post was packed. I stayed out until we tied up to the pier. By that time I had already missed breakfast. They had a continental breakfast out so that's what I had. From there it was a waiting game. I scored a free nights stay from Valerie. From there I would meet Andy and we would stay with Laura. The Ionian Sea was the fourth off so I would have to wait a while outside for Ryan and Valerie. WE were called to get our passports fairly quick but it took a while to get through customs. I was able to say good-bye to Jenny. She is a nice girl, I am going to miss her. I hadn't declared my cigars because I knew they would go over my 100 dollar daily limit for Cuba. I declared 204 dollars worth of stuff. You only got charged for anything over 400 so I was safe. No one gave me any trouble, it just took a long time for them to get through everyone. After that it was about a 30-45 minute wait before our sea was cleared. Finally we were let out and I stepped onto US soil for the first time since I got on the plane in Philadelphia. They had all the bags laid out in this warehouse type thing. I found my one bag really quick but couldn't find my black one. It was there, it's just that all those black bags look the same. I just have walked past it ten times before I saw it. When I did get it Ray and I waited for the next group. It seemed to take forever for them to get the next groups bags out. They went through the bags with drug sniffing dogs. I didn't see them put a dummy bag in there so when the dog went crazy for this one I thought someone had something. I was disappointed when I saw it wasn't a real bag. As soon as I saw Ryan I headed outside. When he came out I went to get something to eat. I stopped at this little deli. I was shocked at the prices, I had forgotten how expensive things are in the US. When I got back, Valerie's sea had gotten off. Her brother and sister were there to meet her. They called a cab from the hotel they were staying at. Somehow we fit everyone's bags in there. It was a real nice hotel. The Williams' went to get something to eat while Ryan and I went to mail some of his books. We also bought tickets to the new Star Wars movie. After that I went back to call home but only got my sister. She got her belly button pierced, that was out of character. It was strange to be back. As I was crossing the street I thought, "I wonder what side of the street they drive on here." Even the shirt I had on was strange. I had the Red Vietnam shirt on. Yesterday everyone knew what that meant, it had a special meaning for everyone there. Now I was just some spanker in a red shirt with a yellow star. I went back to the hotel and took a nap. I thought that I set the alarm clock but when I woke up at 2030 I guess that I hadn't. It was then that Ryan came to his awful realization that he had sent out his plane tickets with his books. After he was done flipping out we went to see if his books had been shipped out yet. Unfortunately they had. So we went back to the room where he called the airline. They said he would have to buy his ticket again then fill out a lost ticket form. If he hadn't been going to Hong Kong it wouldn't have been that horrible but to go there was a ton of money. He called his parents to ask if they had paid by credit card, but they had not. He was really stuck. There wasn't really that much to do but get something to eat and see Star Wars. He felt bad but how else could you feel. The theater was packed. It was funny. On the previews they had one for Sarah and the King. It was that Jodie Foster movie that had been filmed in Ipoh, Malaysia. It was the strangest thing. We really have been gone for a long time. We were like, "My god. We were there!" It was so cool. The theater was the biggest commercial theater I had ever seen. It was like an IMAX. The movie was just OK. The one character was annoying. You really can't tell how good it is until the next two come out. One of the best things about the first three is the way they flow together. I guess we will have to wait and see. When we got back Valerie and her sister were already asleep. I set the alarm for 0610 so that Ryan would have time at the airport. I was awake most of the night. I just can not get back into this US time.
Ryan got out on time and never came back so I take that is a good sign. I got up at around 1030. Valerie and her brother and sister were heading out around the town today. I was going to meet Andy at 1300 to hook up with Laura at the Hotel Edgewater. When I got there Andy was there and had bad news. Laura's mother did not want us in the room with them. Now we were stuck. Valerie would have let us stay with them but I didn't want to waste a whole day waiting for them to get back. I checked my bags at the Edgewater and went back to the ship with Andy and Jimmy. I had never expected to go on the ship again but there I was. Andy packed up his final things and we parted ways with Jimmy for the last time. Andy and I walked to the two hostels that we knew about. The first one was filled. The next one had spots open but we had to stay with eight other people. It also required our passports and travel documents. We put our names on a list to be saved until 1600. We went back to the ship to get our bags. Right around 1600 we pulled back up to the Green Tortoise Hostel. I felt a little nervous leaving my bags out in the open but I think that people who stay at hostels are trustworthy. After lugging our bags up several flights of stairs I called home again but this time I actually got someone. We headed out towards the Space Needle. There was a folk fest going on so we walked around there for a long time. There were these awesome puppets there. They had Jimi Hendrix and Pearl Jam. They were really cool. There were all types of singers and stuff. We were also surprised to see a Kenyan food stand. The food didn't look all that Kenyan to me but who am I to say. We watched a few groups before eventually heading out. I remember these break dancer guys, an xylophone group, and a couple violinists. We looked at the Space Needle but it was nine dollars to go up so we weren't going to do that. We ended up taking the monorail across the city for 1.25 USD. From there we headed to the Kingdome. If we wanted to spend nine dollars on something we would rather it be a baseball game. Turns out when we got there it was already the sixth inning and they had opened the front gate. So we got to go in for free. We also got a free book and CD ROM. We went in and sat in the 100 level on the left field foul line. It had turned into a very cool day and we hadn't had to pay for anything. We got to see several runs, some guy on Tampa Bay hit a home run. We were just giddy to have gotten in for free. I think the final score was 11 to 6 Seattle. After the game we made our way back to the hostel. Nothing was open, I wouldn't believe that it was all closed. So we hung out in the hostel's common room. We talked to a German who was traveling across the US, then a guy from Morocco. The second guy was very interesting. We talked about where we had been and what we thought about the places. I was very happy we stayed in this hostel as compared to a regular hotel. The people are much cooler there. We were in bed by 0130 but I woke up again at around 0430. These time zones are killing me. I went down to try to use the computer but someone was already on it.
I forget what time we got out but I think it was around 1000. We walked down to the market to try to get something to eat. We eventually got food at a Vietnamese restaurant. We thought that was funny, we joked about if they would take Dong. It was then that I realized a couple of things. First that the voyage is really over. I'll never see any of my friends ever again. It makes me sick to think about it. It's amazing how close you can get to people in such a short period of time. I remember when I was in the William Pitt Union talking to some guy who had been on SAS before. At one point he stopped, looked off into nothingness, and said, "Yeah... Sometimes I wish I was still there." I totally know what he meant. I didn't realize that this voyage would do that to me. Now I do... Now I do... Second is that no one is going to get a lot of the jokes I slip in. That joke about Dong only had meaning if you had been to Vietnam. I wonder if I am going to sound strange back home. I wonder if anything can be the same. Can it be? Oh well... After we finished eating we kept walking around the market. There were bands and stores so it was cool. We got a pint of strawberries and ate them on the curb. Andy met a SASer that he knew there. After they finished talking we watched the fish throwers. We went into a magic shop, a comic book store, and a baseball card store. It was a relaxing, fun day. I just liked walking around with no place to go and no plan. It was such a nice day to walk around. We ended up sitting in a park watching people until about 1400. We walked back to the place and got some free samples of food on the way. One random guy at the hostel recognized that my shirt was from Vietnam. I thought that was cool. I grabbed my bags and called a cab. We loaded up and Andy and I parted ways for the last time. I'm glad he and Jimmy go to Pitt. It will be nice to be able to see them again. It didn't take that long to get to the Amtrak station. My bags were both over the weight limit so I had to pay 20 dollars. One of them was over the 75 pound maximum so I had to transfer some stuff to the other bag. It was then that I was that a part of my elephants trunk broke off. It shouldn't be a problem, I'll just glue it back on. It's just a small piece. It's no big deal. The bags came out to be about 65 pounds each. It wasn't that long before the train got there. I wrote in my journal. I was very backed up. I was impressed with my cabin on the train, it was very nice. I think my shirt offended the conductor. When he came to my cabin he says, "Power to the people." I didn't understand so he pointed to my Vietnamese shirt. Oh well, you can't please everyone. I got dinner at 1730. He made another comment to me then. I was telling the people I was sitting with about Shanghai after the bombing. I said, "It wasn't a good time to be an American in China." The conductor, who just happened to be passing by, says, "It's always a good time to be an American." He got off that night in Portland so he didn't give me any more crap. Dinner was great. I had a big fat steak, medium rare. I was shocked at how good it was. After that I sat in my room, wrote in the journal, and watched the Rockies go by ( I guess they were the Rockies). The mountains were very impressive. The show capped peaks were like nothing I had ever seen before. I was so wrecked. I went to be at 2100. I just couldn't stay up. It was nice to have my own bed. It was ideal. I didn't know if I would like the train but it was everything I had hoped.
I woke up again at around 0430. This is really starting to make me angry. Breakfast was good, I had orange juice and three pancakes. Basically I wrote in my journal and looked outside all day. We passed through the last of the mountains at around 1030. From then on the land was all flat. I saw some Buffalo and calves. That was the first time I had seen any in the wild. Most of this land was grazing land but as the day went on it turned into farming land. Lunch was good, I had a burger and potato salad. I had to take a little nap, I just could not stay awake. For most of the rest of the day I spent in the observation car. Dinner was good but the people who sat with me were annoying. The two little girls (Little, maybe 13 and 9!) were very irritating. I didn't want to put up with that crap. Everyone else I talked to was cool except for them. I watched the sunset then went back to my cabin. I tried to say up as long as I could. I made it up until about 2330 but then had to crash. But I didn't wake up! It was the first time in the last three nights that I actually slept.
The old folks that I had breakfast with were the first people that I have talked to that had heard about SAS. They had met some kids in Seattle that had gone. After that I spent the rest of the time in the observation car. I got a good seat before a huge group of High School students got on. The dining car was too crowed. I didn't want to wait in any lines, I'm tired of lines. I went down and got a chicken meal from the lounge car. It was good and it came with an Amtrak pin so that was cool. I stayed up there until 1500. I finally went back to my cabin to get my things ready to go. We were a couple minutes late but that was no big deal. We were in by 1610. Besides where did I have to go. I tried to call Alyce but she wasn't home. I sat in the waiting area of the station and got all caught up in my journal. It took nearly all four hours I had to wait. I was glad to get it all done. I don't want anything to fade to much before I can get it down. The train came in on time and we left fairly quickly. The coach seats are no the most comfortable things on the face of the earth. I slept for about an hour and a half but after that I was up for a while. I would doze off for a while but I was up most of the night.
The woman sitting next to me was getting off at Pittsburgh so I would have some time to sleep. Once she was gone I curled up across the seats and slept for a while. I ended up ding this off and on all day. This ride wasn't as nice as the first one. There just wasn't as much to see. There was an annoying couple with a baby two rows down. I felt like telling them to shut up. We got into 30th Street Station a little early. I was looking out the window and thought I was the van going on an off ramp. I didn't really get that great a view so I figured it wasn't them. I was surprised that the station was so nice. I waited there for a while before my parents got there. It was good to see them. It fells like I have been gone for a lot longer than 3 Ĺ months. We didn't really have that long to get my stuff. It was a pain lugging all that stuff around but since this is the last time I guess it didn't bother me. The traffic wasn't bad at all on the way back for what time it was. My parents had made a sign that said "Welcome Back Jeff" and had a picture of the ship on it. That was nice, it was something that I had not expected to see. Sugar actually seemed to remember me when I got home, that was pleasant too. We got some pictures outside then lugged the bags inside. Boy was I sad when I opened up my bags. My elephant's head had broken off, the chess board was cracked, and the dragon's mouth had snapped off. It's not like any of the stuff cost me any great deal of money, it just sucks that it couldn't stay nice until I brought it home. A little glue will fix it all up so I'm not that upset about it (it all did end up looking fine). Finally back home. I guess Semester at Sea has come full circle. Time to fall back into the old routines. If that is possible at all. I guess we will see...