67 days ago as we first boarded the ship, I never imagined how fast the time would fly. I simply can't believe that tomorrow morning I will be back in the US. People will speak English, the floor won't move, I'll have a cell phone again, and I'll be forced to settle back into reality. Virginia is only a few hours away.
Today was the infamous cargo loading day. We had to be packed by 10:00am and each of the seas was called over the PA to take luggage to a designated location where it would be transfered to the cargo hold. Even though only about a hundred people were called at a time, it was complete mayhem in the halls. They're narrow as it is; take 100 people with luggage the size of a small vehicle and it's rather crowded. After the luggage fiasco, the shipboard community convened for the closing Convocation. There were a lot of speeches, most with the same general themes of reflection on the dozens of incredible experiences this Summer, and quite a bit of faculty/staff/admin team recognition. The ceremony closed with a really awesome video by our voyage videographer. He did an great job and I was able to snag a copy, so I'll let you borrow if there's any interest.
After picking up our passports, we had our final logistical pre-port. There was some good information about customs and whatnot but the majority of the meeting was a parody of our typical past pre-ports (culture and crime/saftey concerns, etc). At every pre-port it was always heavily stressed that we must go to any means to guard, protect and not lose our passport. The quote of the evening came from the Executive Dean who matter-of-factly stated that after we get though customs, the admin team "doesn't really give a s**t" about what we do with our passports. Overall, it was a really funny event and also served as a good way to bid farewell to the staff that makes this all happen. After pre-port we went out to admire the stars and moonlit ocean one last time before grabbing our final late-night snack and calling it an evening. The goal for tomorrow is to get a very early start (hopefully after at least a few hours of sleep) and see the sunrise before our entrance into Norfolk.
While I'm really going to miss the environment and community here, it's time to head home. I can't wait to see my parents, sisters, nephews, and friends. It's been such a long yet quick 2.5 months. That's all for now; USA, here we come.