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Friday, Mar 24, 2023

Overseas Briefing

Iaorana, Middlebury. As I sit in the communal kitchen of Anteres House in Woods Hole, Mass., a week and a half into the shore component of my SEA Semester, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, I cannot help but think of everything that went into making this sandwich possible. I also cannot help but think how different the mealtime experience here is as opposed to that of Ross, Proctor and Atwater.

After only knowing each other for about three hours, the nine of us living in A House had to sit down and make a grocery list with a budget of $400, taking into account all of our likes and dislikes, and plan meals for the week. We then made a trip to the local Shaw’s in hopes that we could make it out alive after arguing about produce and various deli meats. After our precarious shopping trip, which was in no way a drama-free experience (the gift card we were told had $400 on it really only had $290), we made it back home, stocked up the kitchen and prepared for our first day of classes.

Since then, every day at 12 p.m. myself and 23 other students rush down from the Madden Center after sitting through three hours of class to make lunch. There is no panini machine, no salad station and most importantly, no convenient little conveyor belt that takes your dirty dishes and lets you hurry off to afternoon class.  It has been like getting an early introduction to post-grad life, where you have to budget groceries, do your own dishes, set up a chore wheel to clean the house that you share with eight other individuals and make all your own meals. Coming from Middlebury, where the dining halls provide numerous options per meal, both hot and cold, deciding everyday what you should make for lunch and dinner, and having to try and please a crowd at the same time, has definitely been an adjustment. As a picky eater, it has been a particularly difficult one.

With this change certainly comes some growing pains, and it was especially interesting for me since I have never shared a living space with three guys the same age as me. They eat a lot of food, do not always remember to do their dishes and do not necessarily think about the crumbs they leave behind on the counter and the floor. Their fabulous cooking skills sometimes allow me to forgive and forget.

It is precisely these challenges that are meant to prepare us for seven weeks on the Pacific Ocean, sharing a very small space and taking on the responsibility of each other’s safety. We are being prepared for life on the ocean, where thinking about oneself comes after one’s ship and shipmates. Where if one person is even a minute late relieving someone from watch at 3 a.m., it affects the safety of 34 other people. Slowly we are growing and learning together.

While I am missing J-term at Midd, trips to the beach every day after class to watch the sunset and bike rides around the beautiful Cape have proved to be activities we all enjoy and make missing Midd a little easier. We are becoming close friends already and have only been together for a week and a half. I know once we all board the Robert C. Seamans, in Papeete, Tahiti in two weeks time, we will be glad we got to know each other on land rather than at sea.

Written by MARISSA SHAW '14 from the Sea