The Study Abroad Newsletter

Keelee's Atlantic Voyage

Keelee Martin
Semester at Sea, Worldwide

Keelee Martin with a Friend

My time abroad is still changing my life. I am still revealing lessons that I learned and finding out how to apply a more worldly way of thinking into my life. My Fall 2014 Voyage through Semester At Sea took me to 16 countries. When I left, I had not been anywhere out of the U.S. and I had no idea what was waiting for me. I got to see some incredible sights: the Eiffel tower, Christ the Redeemer, the Colosseum, but my most favorite moments were where I could just exist in the place. Hiking in the Tijuca rainforest, walking on the beach in Civitavecchia, and roaming the backstreets of Barcelona. In these moments I wasn’t distracted by what I was “supposed” to do, and I could just be.

Keelee Martin with a friend singing

I found some real human connections when I was in port. For me, that was the most eye opening. Some were really good, where we could communicate in the same language and some were less desirable, where I was bombarded with sales pitches or pleas for money. These encounters took a heavy emotional toll on me and often left me feeling unsettled and unsure of how I should have responded. I saw poverty for the first time on this trip. In Morocco and Brazil, I questioned what “civilized” really means and who gets to define that. In my Gender and Society class, on the ship, I faced the issue of white privilege, which I hadn’t ever dealt with. Every day held something new for me to feel and think about.

I’m still adjusting to reality, but am able to incorporate some of the things I learned abroad into my daily life here. I do long for the days of coming into a new port before the sun has risen and chanting E Hō Mai, as a new place comes into view. I miss the quiet moments alone on the observation deck, long talks with my roommate, the smiling faces on the ship and the bittersweet feeling pulling away from port back into the unknown.

Keelee Martin with a Friend
Keelee Martin with a Friend

I am so thankful for the opportunity to study abroad and I believe everyone should be able to go.

This means you!