People back home have been seeing posts about my study abroad experience and have asked me multiple times if I was taking a semester off to do a booze cruise. If only they did a simple Google search they would know that Semester at Sea is not that, but so much more.
My shipboard experience has been nothing but positive. There are voyagers here from all walks of life that somehow all live in perfect harmony. From the students who are taking classes (and hanging out at the pool in between) to the Lifelong learners (who are doing the same) to the teachers and crew, everyone has a smile on their face and is excited to go on this amazing journey together. And that’s a very important part of this voyage: being together.
We have all been out on the ocean in the same confined spaces for a few weeks now…together. We are all trying to make a perfect plan for our time in port…together. We are all trying to find out how to take classes and submit work online without the Internet…together. Thankfully, together, we are working to better our experience from an academic and overall well-being standpoint. When we can see Singapore from a distance but we’re in the middle of class, the teachers let us step outside during a lecture. When flying fish can be seen out the window (in Coastal Ecology of all classes) we take a second to enjoy where we are at in this world and how it can relate to our current learning. What is learned inside the classroom can be learned at most institutions, but what we learn outside the classroom in this program is what makes it so special.
Very few times on this voyage have I heard the words “I’m bored.” Because if you are bored, it’s your own fault. Every night it seems like there’s a handful of club meetings you can go to. You can learn chess in chess club, you can rock out in Taylor Swift club, or my favorite (maybe because I’m the leader) Sports Gambler’s Unanimous club, where we wake up at ungodly hours to use up all of our internet to watch sports happening back in the states. And these are just the fun things to do. Keep in mind, that we have to study, do homework, and find time to make plans for our time in port.
It’s a balancing act to make sure you’re enjoying your time on the boat, maintaining your academic integrity, and planning ahead to make the most of the port up next. However, if anyone can do it, it’s these crazy voyagers on this trip of a lifetime.
About the Author: Gus Pope is our Spring 2024 Global Journalism Fellow. Gus is a journalism major from Iowa State University.