Thoughts on Half a Voyage

Yesterday was the 53rd day of Semester at Sea, Spring 2013 Voyage. That means we have now officially passed the halfway mark of the 106-day voyage. In three weeks from today, we will dock in Cape Town for a week, and I will get to see my family and The Boy. I am so excited!

My roommates and me (centre) on the very first night on board, sailing out of Ensenada.
My roommates and me (centre) on the very first night on board, sailing out of Ensenada.

It had been a good voyage so far, and not a day has gone by where I wasn’t incredibly grateful for everybody who contributed to getting me here. My parents, who helped with a massive loan. Sponsoring companies for flights and visas, and the people who ran around to procure my visas. SAS alumni who contribute to scholarship funds. Members of the blogosphere for their contributions and support. My school, who finally allowed me to pursue this crazy dream. My family and The Boy, who supported this crazy dream from the get-go.

But I have been so homesick. It is something I’m used to – I get to see my family and home only twice a year – but it has been worse this time, because not only am I away from my family, but I am away from my country: from people who speak like me, people who share my national history, people who decorate their stories with the same idioms I use. We may be traveling around the world, but to a large extent this ship is a little America, and I miss South Africa so much.

I don’t exactly miss the dusty grey little campus back home, but I do miss early mornings and late nights in the hospital, reading up about cases, talking about births and resuscitations and traumas at dinner. I keep having to check myself: the average college student does not want to hear about blood and gore, abscesses and episiotomies at the table.

Watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I found myself weeping: I miss the medical community and I miss my patients.

I have now traveled to eight countries, which is said to be more than 95% of the world’s population has traveled. We are told that only 1% of the world gets to study abroad, and only 1% of the world gets to circumnavigate the globe. I get to do both. I am become a world traveler, something usually reserved for the wealthy. I get to see just how similar and different the people of the world are. I get to be angry at awful conditions and inspired by the resilience of people. I get to be inspired by truly innovative methods of solving national problems.

What a blessing this is.

But oh, how wonderful it will be to see old Table Mountain, and to embrace the ones I love.

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