Letters (emails) from the Voyage

This is a selection of email travel-letters that I sent to family and friends as I travelled from port to port. It includes many personal impressions from the voyage and is by no means an academic review of the voyage. I never really finished the voyage for those who relied on these emails to keep track of me. Suffice to say, I made it back to Seattle in one piece and back to Elizabethtown. The titles of the letters indicate from where these were sent. Thus the letters include details of previous ports and maybe the current port.
Greetings from Nassau

Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa

Greetings from Kenya and India

Greetings from Malaysia and Vietnam

Leaving Japan

Return to Letters Page

Return to the Personal Sketchbook: Semester at Sea by Tamara L. Gillis, Ed.D.
Leaving Japan

Hello one and all.

This is the last email you will receive before I get back to the states and its not a real newsy one at that. I'm in Japan. This is the first time that I've been able to do email successfully since Hong Kong. I'm afraid that my travel letter from Malaysia and Vietnam may not have gotten through to all of you. For this I apologize and will find a copy to send once I return to the states. At this writing I am at an email terminal that does not allow for word processing files. That's a long story for another time.

Suffice to say that getting from mainland China to Japan was quite the "stomach of steel" experience. We arrived in Osaka one day late due to weather conditions between China and here. That cut our stay in Japan by one day. We still leave tonight. For those of you keeping time, when we leave tonight we will advance our clocks on the ship by four hours to facilitate the Pacific crossing. The seas were very rocky between China and Japan. The worst in all the voyage thus far. As many of you know, I don't get motion sickness ... roller coaster lover that I am ... but the motion sickness does get to me by making me very fatigued and drowsy. I slept through one day in the last crossing ... awaking only to eat meals and attend a faculty meeting. Awoke the next day refreshed in Japan. The Pacific crossing is supposed to be more of this bad weather. I worry more about my students than myself. I'll probably sleep through most of it and wake up in Seattle.

Hey there fellow sport fans ...
I missed the baseball game in Cuba because of schedule changes. But I did get to a baseball game in Japan. Wow. What an experience. It doesn't even feel like the same game that we watch on City Island (home of the Harrisburg Senators). And the calibre of play was more like watching high school or college ball than professional players. I can't wait to sit in the stands at City Island when I come home. Aside from the calibre of play other things that were different about the Japanese game ... these aren't in good order but the order that they are flooding into my head ... at seventh inning stretch, instead of singing "Take me out to the ballgame" the fans in the stands blow up these balloons with whistlers in the ends and leave them float and whistle at a time indicated on the lighted board. It was ridiculous. And the fans, they come more to be a fan than they do to watch the game on the field. They have songs and predetermined cheers that everyone knows. They even have "cheerleaders" ... paid people who lead cheers, bang drums and wave flags in the stands. They also have these souvenir noise makers that everyone buys. They look like two miniature plastic baseball bats tied together at the grip ends. They beat the two bats together to make deafening noise while cheering. Wierd. And the food. Well, don't get me started. I like Asian food fine. But at a ball game one should be able to get a beer and a hotdog ... not a beer and a bowl of noodley soup or suchi. At least there was popcorn and potato chips to make me feel more at home. So as you might imagine, a bunch of faculty and staff made the trek to the ball park to see a game. I went with a small group of 15 people ... mostly fellow faculty and their families. They were all getting into this fan (fanatic) behavior and the food while I was trying desperately to follow the game on the field. Desperate indeed. The players did some really funky things ... like pitching from the front of the mound ... calling time out to get a player on base a jacket because he was cold ... to name only a few. After a while, I just watched with amazement. I felt like I was at the circus instead of the ball park.

It has been an exciting experience with Semester at Sea. I've learned much about more than international education. But I'm looking forward to getting home too. There's so much to talk about with all of you.

So the next time you hear from me ... I'll be somewhere in the United States. Until then ... be well.


This page was created by Tamara L. Gillis, Ed.D. July, 2001. Copyright 2001.

Return to Letters Page
Return to the Personal Sketchbook: Semester at Sea by Tamara L. Gillis, Ed.D.