Sunday, August 2, 2009

19 Hours Later...

Hello from Nantucket!

It is now 19+ hours since I left home for Nantucket - and here I am settled into my 'townhouse condo' that was built by the Navy circa WWII. It isn't bad, really - it is a two bedroom, 1 bath unit with the bedrooms on the second floor and the kitchen and living area on the first level. There is a washer and dryer in the unit so no need to walk the half block down to the launderette - that is a relief. There is, however, no cool air conditioning of any type except that which God chooses to let flow though the windows.

I was unable to take my car as planned due to the fact that the Steamship Authority could get me and my car ON to the island with no problem but they could not, would not guarantee that I could get back OFF the island when I needed I took Amtrak leaving from Philadelphia at 5:15 AM to Boston and then a bus to Hyannis and finally a ferry to Nantucket. The trip was very smooth and without issue and I arrived on Nantucket at 4:30 PM. Then it was a taxi to the UMass units. At $7.00 for less than a 2 mile ride, I think I will be walking or renting a bike for the duration of my time here.

Nantucket's tourist business was hit hard in July (being almost non-existent according to the locals)and I think they are making up for the lost revenue any way they can - because the prices are RIDICULOUS here.

My first taxi driver from the ferry dock was a transplanted Russian who also spoke Portuguese and English. Interesting fellow.


Once I arrived, I had some time to mingle with a few of my fellow classmates who had arrived early and then we had an informal orientation to the course in the faculty unit with Canice the instructor and the new Program Director Judith - a former student of the program from 3 or 4 years ago.

The classes are held in the field station every day from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and it is about 15 or 20 minutes away. It is supposed to be a great, informal space with a beautiful view of Nantucket Sound. We all meet in the parking lot at 8:10 and are shuttled out and back in the UMass van.

There are 15 students in this first week of the program (a few of us are doing both weeks at once) and of the 15, there are 4 guys and 11 girls. We 4 guys all were put into one unit so it is 2 to a room. My roommate Chris, just got back from Baghdad 2 days prior to coming out for the course and it seems that his girlfriend Erica is going through the program with him. Both seem nice.

I know the names of all of the others due to an interesting ice breaker that Canice employed but I know little beyond their names save for what I gleaned in individual conversations with them. They come from all over and have a variety of backgrounds to say the least.

The other 2 guys, Chris & Kevin seem to know each other and also have a car on the island. The were present for the orientation and then they left. Their room is empty so perhaps they are staying elsewhere on Nantucket. They have also requested that they be allowed to drive themselves to class after the first day so who knows?

The class structure is as follows: We all meet in the parking lot every morning and go out to the field station. There we have class and then Canice gives out 'homework' which consists of readings and group activities/assignments with students who are not in your own living unit. This homework can be done anywhere the group working together would like to go to do it be it beach, pizza parlor or library. The objective of the class at week's end is about gaining the understanding that one's own way about doing things is not always perhaps the only and best way to go something. While I do understand this pretty much already, it will be interesting to go through the process and to see how my fellow students will understand and adapt or struggle with the concept and its implementation.

It is 10:30 PM and I have 2 chapters to read for the morning so I am off to read and then to a most welcome - and hopefully - a cool breeze filled night of sleep.

Ed would simply hate most aspects of this trip, this island and these accommodations. No doubt he is sleeping quite soundly away with Maya in the normal, year-round, cool 65 degree temp of our house.

Yes, I am jealous. Very, very jealous.

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