A FIELD TRIP
LIKE NO OTHER

     I dropped my little boy off for his first day at his new school last week. And by gosh, wouldnít you know it, he was already off on a field trip, even though it was only the first day.
     I remember field trips. They were so exciting! A morning at the zoo, or an afternoon at the Planetarium---what fun we would have!
     But that was then and this is now. My little boy was going on a field trip to 11 different countries, including Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, India, Vietnam, China and Japan, all while living aboard a ship while cruising around the world.
     Itís not fair.
     I actually dropped him off in The Bahamas, where he waved from the fifth deck as his ship, the M.V. Explorer, embarked from Nassau. It felt nothing like the first day of Kindergarten, especially when some brother of another student yelled from the dock, "DONíT RUN OUT OF CONDOMS!"
     This was Semester at Sea, where 600 students, 400 of whom are female, circle the globe and receive 15 units of credit. It is one of the great college experiences ever imagined, and I am eternally pissed that I never knew about it when I was in college.
     Itís been around since 1963, and there is a Spring and Fall sailing. I was available for both, but my parents either didnít know about it, or knew about it and got a good laugh over the thought of spending their hard-earned money to send their little boy around the world.
      I might have said the same thing to my little boy, but I was already spending my hard-earned money to get him through college at the University of San Diego. And it so happened that a semesterís tuition plus room and board at a private college is almost exactly the same as the tuition and room and board for Semester at Sea.
     "Take me with you," I pleaded when he pointed out the financial logic and I realized it would be not wise to say no. "Think of the fun weíll have together."
     When he threatened to call the District Attorney and report my desires, I knew I was out. And after he explained that the shipís final port of call was San Diego, thereby saving on additional airfare to get home, the deal was set. He was going, and I had to be content with being excited for him.
     And I am. My oldest daughter, using the exact same financial arguments, spent the Spring semester of her Junior year on Semester at Sea. This was nine years ago, and she still raves about the experience. She made lifelong friends, changed her career choice from business to teaching, and developed a love for travel that continues to bankrupt her to this day.
     She also travelled around the world on a ship worthy of 600 college students. It was a dump, aged and decrepit, perfect for a carousing group of crazy kids. Unfortunately, it almost sank off the Aleutian Islands a few years ago, so apparently someone decided it was best to upgrade.
     I didnít know this when the parents who travelled to Nassau were invited for a pre-sailing tour of the party boat where my little boy would be spending the next 106 days. When I heard they had a new ship, I expected a bigger, more stable dump. I was wrong.
     "Iím putting my foot down," I told my little boy after I toured the M.V. Explorer. "I am not paying for any spa treatments for you."
     Maybe he figured with a 2-1 ratio of females to males, he would get plenty of free massages. For whatever reason, he wasnít disappointed there would be no spa allowance. Besides, he also had free use of the basketball court, swimming pool, humongous weight room and aerobic equipment, and outside bars.
    The ship was ridiculously luxurious. It made no sense to waste it on a motley group of stupid students. I decided to give it one last good old college try.
     I did a little research, and found they have a program for "lifelong learners," where a small group of older people can join the cruise and sit in on some of the classes.
     Sounds like a bunch of perverts to me. Iím thinking Spring 2014.
 

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