Around the World
Semester at Sea, Worldwide
This fall semester of my junior year I had the incredible opportunity live and learn onboard a ship for four months, while circumnavigating the Earth, and visiting 10 different nations. Stepping onboard the ship, the M/V Explorer, for the first time in Nassau, Bahamas I don't think any of us were fully prepared for the whirlwind experience that was to take us to Brazil, Namibia, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Hawaii, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal, and finally to Miami over the next 108 days.
A great thing about the Semester at Sea program is that it is designed so that you take classes while the ship is out at sea, and the 5 to 6 days that you are docked in each country you are virtually free to explore as you want (just as long as you don't leave the country that you're docked in).
No disrespect to UH Hilo whatsoever, but in a semester when I would normally be cooped up in K-building or UCB I was able to experience independance day in Brazil, explore the desert in Namibia, go on an African Safari near Johannesburg, walk the streets of Kuala Lumpur, boat down the Mekong Delta, climb the Great Wall of China, experience the sights and sounds of Tokyo, and zip-line the rainforest of Costa Rica. In my business classes I was able to interact with the management team of a mining company in India, tour a palm oil processing plant in Malaysia, witness production of Nike shoes and apparel at their Vietnam facility, and develop international marketing proposals. I learned more in one semester than I have learned in my entire life.
I'm often asked what life on the ship was like, and if I was bored. To be honest, time onboard the ship is just as valuable to the experience as time in port. After 5 days of relentless travel within a counry, you begin to relish coming back to the ship. You attend classes, hang out with your friends, play games, attend talent shows and mic nights, watch movies, hang out by the pool, sleep out on deck, and so much more. It is a great way to decompress before arriving in the next country on your itinerary. Traveling by ship is by far, the mosy stress-free and relaxing way you could ever travel you never have jet lag and its like just walking outside the front door of your house and you're there.
Overall, after 28,692 miles of sailing in three and a half months, I came away from Semester at Sea with a profoundly new outlook on our planet and our country. I realized how much smaller our world is than we often conceptualize it to be, and that we truly do need to do what we can to protect it. Instead of looking at ourselves as separate nations with separate agendas, we need to realize that it is in everyone's best interest to work together as one global community. We're all in this together.
The best piece of advice I can give you, if you in any way have the opportunity to sail with Semester at Sea, jump on it. You will never regret it.