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Sibling Stories from Semester at Sea
Forget sibling squabbles or birth-order blues. The sets of brothers and sisters on the Summer 2014 voyage are thicker than thieves. The siblings tell tales of traveling together in port, sharing the same circle of friends, meeting up for meals in the dining hall and even sharing (small) cabins.
We sat down to chat briefly with each of the sibling pairs (and one trio!) to find out how their summer is going and how they ended up sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience together as the MV Explorer makes its way through Europe and Scandinavia.
Kent & Kayci Lacob
As a basketball player for the Washington University Bears in St. Louis, senior Kent Lacob has had little flexibility for studying abroad during the school year. That’s why he opted to apply for the Semester at Sea summer session. And when his little sister Kayci, a sophomore at Stanford University, found out about his plans, she decided to make a study-abroad summer happen, too. “I knew I wanted to do Semester at Sea at some point,” she says. “I figured I might as well do it with him.”
The pair’s older brother and sister are SAS alumni (Fall 2008 and Summer 2010), so they were familiar with stories of life on the MV Explorer, but Kent and Kayci have been pleasantly surprised — actually, “blown away,” says Kent — by all of the countries they’ve seen so far this summer, particularly Scotland and Norway. Says Kayci, “I wasn’t expecting Scandinavia to be so interesting. Now I’m obsessed with all of these countries.”
Kent and Kayci, who are from Woodside, California, spend so much time together on the ship, “People always ask if we’re dating,” says Kent.
Kayci adds, “We haven’t really not been together on the ship or in ports.”
“People think it’s really weird we hang out together so much, but we’ve always been really close. Plus, with me being away for school in St. Louis, we really don’t see each other much. It’s nice to have this reunion,” says Kent, adding with a grin: “I’m not sick of her yet.”
Josh & Crystal Bauer
Josh Bauer, who begins graduate school at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire in the fall, sailed on the Summer 2013 voyage. “When I saw the itinerary for this summer, I knew I wanted to do it again,” he says.
Younger sister Crystal, a senior at the University of Wisconsin River Falls who had never been out of the United States before flying to London to begin the voyage this summer, benefited from older brother’s know-how. “He was able to help me through the whole packing process. Explain to me what it would be like doing laundry [by hand] in my room. Where the best place to eat on the ship was. And he really helped in getting us here, since he had navigated the airports already, so he knew exactly where to go — for the most part.”
The pair has two of the same classes, so they see each other regularly on ship class days, but they do have different study habits and some different friend circles. It’s in port where they spend the most time together. Regarding their favorite countries so far, they echo what a lot of students on the ship say: “Scotland surprised me,” explains Josh. “I wasn’t sure what to expect there. But I really loved it. The people were so friendly. The landscape was so beautiful.”
Meanwhile, Crystal loved Norway’s beauty: “Bergen, was my favorite so far. I loved being in the fjords. And then hiking to the top of Mount Floyen with it’s amazing view.”
As far as their future travel intentions in our three remaining ports go, they tend to be flexible with planning: “We have some vague places we want to see, the pre-port gives us some ideas, and then we look at a map and figure out where we want to go.”
Michelle & David Shadpour
The Shadpour siblings both go to University of Southern California in Los Angeles (Michelle is a junior and David is a senior), and they are both engineering majors, so they have a lot in common.
Both were interested in Semester at Sea, with David having a couple of roommates who sailed last summer and Michelle knowing people at the University of San Diego (their hometown) who are alumni. “When my brother told me he was doing it, I decided to tag along,” says Michelle.
And the pair has been “all in,” as far as experiencing as much as they can this summer — on the ship and in ports. They plan to continue their fast-paced country exploration for our final three destinations: Stockholm, Helsinki and Gdansk. “A sprint to the finish,” says David.
“We get up early and out to see as much as we can,” says Michelle. “We’ve been cramming things in the whole time. One day we saw nine museums in Norway.”
As engineering majors, the summer program has fit in well with their course schedules at USC. Traveling in the fall or spring would have set them back a full semester — or two — in their competitive academic program. Classes on the ship are different than what they’re used to: “There are different expectations. A lot of reading,” says Michelle.
Adds David, “At USC we’re building and making stuff.”
The pair, who say they’ve always gotten along, aren’t surprised they’ve had a smooth-sailing (pun intended) summer. Says Michelle, “You have to be pretty close to your sibling to hang out on a ship together for two months.”
Sam & Tristan Charron
The Charron brothers from Quebec, Canada, are another pair who have plenty in common. They both study game design and development at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. And they are both taking the same classes on the ship. Not in game design and development, certainly, but knocking out some electives in psychology, history and social science “We only need to buy one book for the most part. We can help each other,” says Sam. “Trying to be efficient.”
While Tristan is a junior, Sam is a senior transfer student who is able to graduate next spring in part because he’s taking classes on the ship this summer.
One aspect of the summer voyage that surprised both the Charrons is the unusual class schedule and fast pace of the syllabi. A semester’s worth of work packed into just 10 weeks, with many non-class days for “in country” travel. Originally Sam thought he might take four classes on the ship, in order to knock out even more credits in 10 weeks, but the fast pace of sea days — and the condensed semester schedule and the amount of work required in limited days between port — led him to realize on the second class day it wasn’t going to happen.
Still, the pair seem to have to have hit their stride, recognizing that a Semester at Sea voyage is intense, not only because of everything that must get done on class days, but also the pace of travel days off the ship. “It’s very exhausting and mentally and physically, too, just walking for days in port,” says Sam. “You won’t see everything. There’s so much to do and see, so it’s good.”
In addition to traveling together off the ship, Tristan says, “We eat together, we’re rooming together. Sometimes we don’t get along. But for siblings, we’re doing pretty well.”
Morgan, Mason & Makenzie Pigman
The most well-traveled of the Pigman siblings, Morgan, a senior at St. Mary’s College of California who had spent time in Australia, Turkey and Greece, wanted to study abroad “one more time,” before graduating, so she decided to apply for the Semester at Sea Summer 2014 voyage. Her brother Mason was going to transfer out of state to Baylor University in Texas in the fall, and he figured it would be the ideal time to sample studying abroad alongside his sister. And when the youngest, Makenzie, got wind of the plan — and realized she’d be able to attend as well, as an incoming freshman at Berkeley College — she signed on as well.
The trio wasn’t totally sure how they’d get along on the ship, especially Morgan and Makenzie, who are the furthest apart in age. Plus, they hadn’t lived under the same roof for a long period of time since Morgan went off to college. However, even sharing a cabin has been good for the sisters: “Living together we’ve realized how much we have in common,” says Morgan. “We’ve gotten to know each other much better this summer.”
Sharing the same friend circle, the Pigmans hang out together a lot — both on and off the ship. A highlight has been their mom’s visit to both Norway and Russia while the ship was docked in those ports. “Eating out with our mom at restaurants was heaven,” says Makenzie. “We were living the good life, for sure.”
Even though classes are harder than Makenzie expected, she says the summer experience has whet her appetite for more travel. “I definitely want to study abroad again.”
Sailing with Semester at Sea has also helped cement the family’s sibling bond. “Not a lot of people get to do Semester at Sea in general. We’re extra lucky to be able to do this together,” says Morgan. “This is one thing we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives.”