On the fourth day of the Spring 2015 voyage, all international students were called into the Union for a welcoming convocation. Coming from Panama, and having already met a handful of the international students, I was expecting, at most, for there to be around 30 people in attendance. However, once I stepped inside the dimly lit room, a smile inevitably spread across my face, more than 80 international students filled the room, as well as staff and faculty from outside the United States.
Gathering from Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe, North America and South America, most all continents are represented on board the MV Explorer. The largest number in Semester at Sea history, Student participants gather from no less than 46 different countries. Scott Miller, from the Writing Center on board the ship, explained it best when he ecstatically touched upon how excited he was to have us all on board, as he felt as if he was ‚Äútraveling the world, with the world as witness‚Äù. So many things differentiate us from each other: culture, academic background, or even worldviews. Yet here, on the MV Explorer, it doesn‚Äôt matter where we come from, whether it be Asia or America, as we are all considered international students as we circumvent the globe together.
Whether it‚Äôs hanging out by the piano bar, or having some food by the pool on deck seven, conversations bring to life unbelievable stories that would have otherwise remained largely unheard. While discussing our differences, we have often come to realize that we in fact have more in common than we were aware of, as we all left our homes and comfort zones to join this community of foreigners. For me, this is what makes Semester at Sea the experience of a lifetime.