The Study Abroad Newsletter

An Atypical Study Abroad Experience

Amy Markel
Semester at Sea, Worldwide

I sat on the bus, on the way to board a ship in Ensenada, Mexico, that would eventually take us around the world, next to a girl who I had met over Facebook and just previously shared a room at the Hilton in San Diego the night before. Little did I know - that girl, and her roommate, who happened to be two doors down from me on the ship would be some of the best friends I have made in my life. The excitement to start this journey was intense, it almost felt surreal, I had never left the country before this. But this was not my favorite memory of the journey. My favorite memory actually came after we had departed the ship, after traveling around the world.

Amy with Jackfruit Tree in Vietnam From piecing together Japanese sentences, from long forgotten lessons in high school, while trying to find an affordable hostel in Tokyo, riding the subway, and hitting all the highlights in Shanghai with my roommate and her friend from Beijing, getting from market to the house via river boats in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, taking a taxi overnight to stay on a beach four hours away from our ship and experiencing the most beautiful diving I have seen in the world in Myanmar, diving in to the wonders the ocean via the aquariums at the theme park island Sentosa in Singapore, experiencing a Southern Indian homestay while keeping eyes open for tigers, learning about the impact of agriculture on the corals of Mauritius, braaiing (bbq) and hiking over South African mountains, staring 100ft down to the ground from a rope canopy in Ghana, cameling through the Sahara desert in Morocco, to the beautiful artwork in Barcelona, the memories I had with these people never ended.

My favorite memory however, was waking up at our hostel in Barcelona at the end of our journey, after our ship which we had called home for the last 4 months had left it's port, and getting coffee and croissant with these wonderful people and reflecting on the memories that we had just made together, and the unforgettable bond we now shared.

Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar

Semester at Sea was an experience that allowed me to open my mind to new ways of thinking, when minds worked differently, and opened me up to new ways of communicating, when language was a barrier. It taught me how to think on my feet, and how to appreciate and not take for granted things that I would have before. It gave me the ability to see past the cultural differences and see the people who lived there. I really appreciate the people that have become my close friends on the ship, but I think I really appreciate the people who I talked to in each country, and how they implored me to stretch my mind to new capacities, to really never want to stop taking the journey.