The Institute for Shipboard Education

by Cameron

I have lost track of days of the week and I have lost track of the days of the month. These arbitrary measurements of time no longer have any meaning to me. The week has been condensed. Begone the Monday-Friday work schedule, begone the weekend. Now there exist only two days; A and B.For those of you unaware (I direct you to my first post) I am now ‘taking’ four university classes. I say ‘taking,’ because I am not writing any of the essays (at least, not yet) and I am not getting a grade, but I am reading, diligently, the readings (in some cases, watching the movies) and I am participating in class discussions and during lectures (sometimes more than the students do). The professors have been really fantastic about letting me sit in and participate during classes, so that’s been great. Here is a look at my current schedule:

0700-0800 Breakfast 0645-0730 Workout
0800-0930 Global Studies 0730-0830 Breakfast
0930-1130 Study Hall 0830-0930 Free Study Time
1130-1230 Lunch 0930-1050 Linguistics
1230-1530 Free Study Time 1050-1100 Dash to RotE
1530-1650 Comparative Government and Politics 110-1220 Religions of the East
1650-1730 Free Study Time 1220-1230 Drop-off Books in Cabin
1730-1820 Dinner 1230-1330 Lunch
1820-1850 Piano Lessons (Variable) 1330-1730 Free Study Time
1850-1900 Woo Hoo! 10 Minutes 1730-1820 Dinner
1900-2000 Evening Seminars

(I don’t usually go)

1820-1850 Piano Lessons (Variable)
2000-2200 More Studying and Getting Ready for Bed 1850-1900 Woo Hoo! 10 Minutes
1900-2000 Evening Seminars (Same)
2000-2200 More Studying and Getting Ready for Bed


Ahh! The formatting! Oh, it hurts!

Anyhow, in the following paragraphs, I will explain the meanings and significances of each of these items, with a collection of anecdotes, to create for you, an understanding of what shiplife is really like.

First, We Eat.

The meals are served cafeteria-style with one difference… they’re actually good. Breakfast consists of a combination of oatmeal, pancakes, French toast, assorted pastries, eggs, potatoes, cereal, and toast. There is usually a pretty nice, wide selection. Lunch and dinner are rolls (the best part, except for on some really good pasta days) pasta, sauce, meats, potatoes and veggies. They offer a salad bar, and all types of stuff. Of course, I’m most interested in the rolls, the pasta, and the meat, which so far, have all been consistently good, which is nice. When it isn’t too windy, we sit outside on the back deck and watch the waves.

Global Studies

This is the first of my four classes. It is mandatory for all students, and staff, faculty, and life-long-learners (paying-old-people) are heavily encouraged to join. The curriculum is set in such a manner that the class is designed to teach us everything we will need to know about the next port stop, while throwing in various bits about global citizenship and sociology. So far, it’s been pretty good, and in the last class I learned a ton of trivia about Hawaii and the tropics. For example, squirrels and snakes? Illegal in Hawaii (because they would a have no predators and are invasive species) Also, there are only two mammals native to Hawaii. Furthermore, I can now explain the reasoning for the trade winds and give a general overview about the history of the Hawaiian Islands (which stretch across 1,500 miles in total!). I’m going to be insufferable by the time this trip is over. The GS class is huge with 300 students in our group, so there isn’t too much opportunity to participate here, but that’s okay. This is one of the classes where the best thing is to take as many notes as possible and then memorize everything that you write down.

In a side-ish note, I would address why I say trivia. My current attitude is that my whole purpose for taking classes is to increase my trivial knowledge. First, I should recognize why most student pay attention in class: grades. Tests and essays and tests and grades. For most students this is the most and only important reason to pay attention. For me, it’s a little different. Over the past few days, I have had the opportunity to eat a few meals with two professors, whose classes I am taking, and they know so much stuff. They know all about their fields and other peoples’ fields and all kinds of random stuff and it’s awesome. It has led me to realize that there is intelligence in acing tests, and that sort of thing, but the purest form of intelligence, the type that I see in my grandfather and in these professors, and that I revere, is the kind where they each seem to know everything. And yet they all know different things, so they have all types of knowledge to share and gain from in depth conversations with one another. Part of this comes from their studying in University, and on a daily basis (as professors), but part of it is just an aptitude for trivia. This is the type of thing that I hope to foster in myself, so that I too can seem to know everything; so that I too can answer questions like: How is Plato like NATO? And not have to dumbly respond “a, t, o.” (That was a question that one had to answer in an oral competence exam getting his Master’s)

Study Time

You may notice that there is a lot of “Free Study Time” in my schedule. For my sisters, this pretty much translates to “Recess.” While that would be nice for me, I have some other things that I need to do. Each of the four classes that I am taking assign readings, each of which usually take 1-1.5 hours. This takes up a lot of time, but it helps me to stay on top of things in class discussions, and ahead of the students, since apparently, according to one of my professors, “university students might sort of do the reading, but they might not… and maybe they read some of it after the class… but really, it is to [their] benefit to do the reading before the class, so that [they] are prepared and can participate in the discussions” (Hackett/best approximation). I have also had some time to work on some January school work that still isn’t done (Oh my goodness, what a slacker. Still not done? Really? Come on). Yup. In the meanwhile, I’ve started teaching myself Python 3 out of an instruction book that I got in California, just before we left. So that’s been fun. I hope to find some time to start doing some creative writing, but I need to focus on my schoolwork first and get more used to the rhythm of the current state of affairs before I can start thinking about that.

Comparative Government and Politics, Intro to Linguistics, and Religions of the East

These classes are pretty self-explanatory by the names, and needless to say I am thoroughly enjoying them. The class sizes are much smaller than Global Studies, which is nice, since it allows me to participate more. I’ve already learned quite a bit, and we’ve only just been getting started. I’m really excited to keep going throughout the voyage.

Piano Lessons

We found a music major to give us piano lessons which we (the kids) cycle through over the course of three days. So far, it’s going pretty well. Most of the pianos are slightly out of tune, but there is one Steinway Grand, which I have yet to play. Unfortunately, it’s in the biggest room on the ship, and I don’t feel confident enough to play with a large audience yet. On a ship with a handful of music majors, I feel a bit underqualified to play in that capacity.

The Boat Rocks

In other news, the boat rocks—literally. For some reason I never even considered that. Morgan had to deal with some seasickness the first few days, but thankfully I was spared. At first the rocking was strange and at times gave me a headache, I’m used to it now. Unfortunately, it makes ballet a little difficult on the ship, and running on the treadmills is super weird, but does have some upsides: falling asleep is easy. Speaking of which…


Cameron Schmitter



2 thoughts on “The Institute for Shipboard Education

Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights and what you are learning and will learn. I am excited to hear about your Global Studies as I start my masters program this week at Gonzaga in Global Organizational Leadership!! Have fun in Hawai’i


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