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From the Students: Top Ten Shipboard Activities

On Semester at Sea, every experience is a learning experience. Between days when they’re immersed in new cultures in port, the shipboard community onboard the MV Explorer provides a place for students to learn about upcoming countries, socialize, and try new clubs and activities that form the greater shipboard community. From CrossFit and Ping Pong to nightly lectures and family dinners, students keep a packed schedule – and have lots of fun along the way. After taking a poll, here are the students’ top ten favorite things to do onboard.

1. Extended families

Extended families are groups of lifelong learners or faculty that join with students to form a family. This is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the shipboard community. Ray Hathaway, a sophomore at Ithaca College, said, “Extended families are great. We meet up once a week to discuss classes and what our adventures will be for the next port. It’s something I look forward to every week.”

2. Stargazing

Without streetlights and other outdoor lighting, the stars are much clearer to view on the open sea. At night, astronomy professor Iain Campbell can often be found on the top deck examining the stars, answering students’ questions, and locating planets like Jupiter as well as the constellations Cassiopeia and the Big Dipper. Joshua Gray of California Lutheran University said, “Living on a ship is an amazing experience, and stargazing as you travel is incomparable to anything else in the world.”

3. Insight Lectures

Insight Lectures are nightly presentations by members of the shipboard community. These lectures are educational and entertaining, with topics ranging from Japanese history to Hawaiian art and food. The lectures tend to focus on culture of the ports that the ship will be visiting next. While at sea, the community is often joined by an inter-port lecturer who teaches the students about their country and culture. Lin Zhang from Peking University said, “inter-port lectures give us a lot of useful information about the places we are going to visit. The academic lens of excellent scholars is of great help for us to think critically and innovatively while traveling.”

4. World Café Lecture

World caf√© lectures are another instructive part of the voyage that complement the students’ studies onboard. These lectures consist of useful tips and mini-workshops, covering topics such as cool places to visit in China, how to take a successful travel photo or key phrases in the language of the next port country.

5. Intramural sports

Intramural sports are a great way to build shipboard community as well as get some exercise. SAS offers many intramural activities including dodge ball, basketball, and dance. Dan Holperin, a senior at the University of Wisconsin Stout/Menomonie, said, “I have a lot of fun learning hip hop and salsa dancing in the Union. The rocking of the ship really makes it interesting.”

6. Creative arts

The creative arts can be found both outside of the classroom in clubs, random jam sessions and salsa lessons. Many students are also taking classes in theater, acting, music, cinema, and writing. Kristie Han, a junior at the University of Colorado, said, “We are all going to find some language barriers on the voyage, but music is one language everyone can understand.”

7. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a concept in Buddhist meditation that is intended to reduce stress and clear the mind. SAS is offering an eight week course for anyone on the ship to learn this technique, as the idea of staying centered, present and open during the semester is a high priority for voyagers. In this class, students concentrate on their breath and learn about the different meditation techniques.

8. Social EntrepreneurSHIP

The social entrepreneurship club is a popular new club this year onboard the MV Explorer. Teams of students develop plans to make a positive impact on the global community. At the end of the semester there will be a competition, called the Resolution Project, where the winning team will win $3,000 to implement their plan.  Joe McVeen of the University of Toledo said, “Social Entrepreneurship is a great way to make a tangible difference in the world. The participants are passionate and driven, it is a great way to get involved and enrich yourself.”

9. Vicarious Voyage Blog

While SAS students travel the world, they are also making a difference in their communities at home by sending stories and learning experiences from their travels to their local K-12 classrooms. After every port, students write about their experiences and send their stories and photos to partner teachers, who present the material in their classroom.

10. International student activities

International student activities are a great way for students from outside America to learn about each others’ cultures as well as teach ‚Äúnon-internationals‚Äù about their home. These students often help others plan their trips in the port of their home country. Robert Slatkin, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh said, ‚ÄúI find just sitting and talking to people is one of the most important aspects of the voyage. A huge part of this adventure is learning the stories of the people on it with you.‚Äù

“The sense of community on this ship is amazing, being constantly surrounded by friends, not distracted by technology is definitely my favorite part of Semester at Sea. Even after only a few weeks on the ship I already feel as though I’ve made some amazing friends.” –Natalie Laing, Queens University

  • Life at Sea

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