As the Fall 2014 voyage has officially concluded and our newest alumni are scattering back to their homes and embarking on new adventures, we are signing off the best way we know how‚Ä¶through the students whose lives have been changed in the past 108 days:
This journey has taught me that the world is filled with so many different places, people, and cultures. You can never really grasp that until you travel to a lot of places in a short period of time. Things are so much fresher in your mind, and you get to compare and contrast all these places you‚Äôve seen and people you‚Äôve met. I‚Äôve learned that no matter our differences we are all humans and we all have the capacity for good. Each culture does have its own character, however underneath most people are just incredibly kind and helpful. Not only do you learn about the world, you learn even more about yourself and the way you interact with the world and those around you.
I thought when I traveled that the world was going to inspire and change me, and although it did, I learned so much more than I thought I would from the friends I made on the ship. It opened my eyes to show that you don‚Äôt have to travel the world to be enlightened and touched, you just have to find an amazing community, stick them in a confined environment, and force them to interact. Add the chance to travel the world, and there is serious magic in that equation. The friends I have made on this voyage will be friends for a lifetime, and I know that for a fact.
Semester at Sea has taught me that the world is a much more accessible place than I imagined it to be. What I thought to be ‚Äúforeign‚Äù ended up feeling comfortable to me by the time I left. I tried not to walk into a country with any expectations and strived to simply learn from my experiences.
It‚Äôs hard to think about who I truly was before this trip, especially my high school self. Maybe I had a spark of potential that became more realized in college, but I remember myself being bland or superficial. Now I feel so much more confident in myself. I never knew how capable I was when it came to traveling, learning, writing, or even my own life goals. I am more curious about my future than ever before and feel like my options are limitless. I‚Äôm starting to explore new dreams that I never knew I had and am much more passionate about contributing to the global community.
All people are essentially the same. Everyone is just trying to do their best in the circumstance that they are given. I believe all humanity is essentially connected at the roots, like aspen trees ¬≠‚Äì all living as one organism. I see the global community the same way, and those beliefs were confirmed as I met people from around the world both on and off the ship this semester. I connected with welcoming and genuine people in every country and experienced the most amazing random acts of kindness. To get the most out of the voyage you have to push yourself to do more and become better. It is the most rewarding experience a person can have, and the experiences possible on the voyage will blow away any expectations.
I‚Äôve never been the college student that knew exactly where she was going in the world. I‚Äôve grown up in my safe little corner of the Midwest with every protection and shelter surrounding me, rarely traveling or experiencing things that were truly outside my comfort zone. I‚Äôve developed my own morals and system of beliefs, but have rarely been challenged by circumstances and situations that cause me to question what I know and hold to be true. I‚Äôve held tight to the dreams I have for where my life is going, but I‚Äôve never known exactly how I plan to accomplish these dreams.
Semester at Sea has changed all of this.
My thoughts and feelings about what I‚Äôve learned and how I‚Äôve been affected by the Fall 2014 Voyage are all jumbled up and bursting at the seams of my head and my heart. But these thoughts and feelings always trace back to several distinct memories. Tracing my fingers along the Berlin Wall, looking into the tear-filled eyes of my mother as we gazed out at the colonnades of Saint Peter‚Äôs Basilica in Rome, and sipping mint tea and sleeping under the stars in Fes, are things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. My eyes have now been opened to the multitude of problems that our world still needs to resolve. I have found new causes that have affected me deeply, and I know that my travels are far from over. I end my journey with blisters on my feet, sand in my shoes, and more joy in my heart than I know what to do with. So as this fall comes to a close, I know that the experiences of these past months don‚Äôt become obsolete simply because our voyage is coming to an end; rather, our work has just begun.