Studying abroad can be quite scary – being away from home, your family, your friends and everything that is so comfortable. BUT, studying abroad holds an unimaginable adventure full of learning, discovery and growth if you have the courage to sign up.
Breaking the ice
Before a Semester at Sea voyage sets sail I try to ease those fears and have a Meet and Greet at my local Panera Bread where students enter as strangers and leave as future shipmates.¬† My fall Meet and Greet here in Pittsburgh was the best yet, the tables were full, the conversation was nonstop and with the help of my Global Ambassadors I had a moment to step back and take it all in.
Each one of the faces before me were about to set sail on a voyage of discovery and see, smell, taste and experience the world in a way they have never done before.¬† AND here I am kick starting this very adventure seeing the excitement in their eyes.
We speak on the highs and lows of a voyage. We discuss the issues of over packing and homesickness. We take time to introduce ourselves and share how we first learned about Semester at Sea and if this will be our first time out of the country, of what we are most excited and nervous about.¬† We recognize that we are representing Americans as we enter many different countries and embrace the cultures within.
I feel tightness in my heart as I speak to the group knowing how each one of the eager eyes and smiling faces will be forever changed 4 months from now and how this change will impact their lives and the world around us.
Staying in touch until the big day
We share contact information and a few parting words, ‚Äòsee the sunrise as much as the sunset‚Äô, ‚Äòkeep a journal‚Äô, and ‚Äòenjoy every moment on ship and off‚Äô.¬† So many questions have been answered and many more have formed but these students who entered as strangers now have a network of local shipmates – lifelong friends – to ease their stress as they prepare for the journey ahead.¬†¬† I leave, sad that I am not joining them but looking forward to seeing these very faces return from SAS and sharing their stories with perspective students at future Meet and Greets.
If you’ve been a student or lifelong learner on a Semester at Sea voyage, how did you prepare yourself in advance of embarkation day?