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Top Ten Things SAS Alumni Wish They Knew Before Sailing

Preparing for a semester abroad can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. If you’re planning for your upcoming Semester at Sea voyage, we’ve got you covered! Check out this list of top 10 things Semester at Sea alumni wish they knew before sailing.


1. Do Not Over Plan

Adventures will come to you as the voyage happens. You do not need to make tons of plans. It is not uncommon for a student to plan and book trips in every country before their voyage, only to then want to make new plans with friends they made on their voyage. Booking too many activities in advance will make it harder to plan travels with those friends. Of course if you are set to see the Taj Mahal in India or the Great Wall of China, book those trips! It is all about balance.

“Do not plan too much before you sail! Leave room for new people and spontaneous plans.”


2. You Will Make New Friends

Do not stress, you will make amazing friends! When embarking on a new experience that is unknown, especially on your own can be intimidating. Just remember that you will be joining a voyage full of shipmates eager to make new friends as well.

“It’s all going to be okay. You will find people to travel and be with, and it will all work itself out.”

“Stay up and talk to those new people!! Everyone is so cool – so meet them!”

“Do not worry about making friends. You will bond over experiences!”

“Things take time. You will find your people, just enjoy every moment.”


3. Bring Those Snacks

Probably one of the biggest pieces of advice alumni give is to bring lots of snacks! Bring more than you think you need, you will be on the ship for several months plus getting your favorite snacks may very well be difficult to get abroad. Students often times find that they over packed when it came to clothes and under packed on the snacks. Some students even recommend bringing your own seasoning. Alumni suggest that you pack lots of snacks and as you eat them throughout the voyage there will be space made available in your suitcase for souvenirs!

“Snacks, snacks, snacks. Bring more snacks. Also, movies are the currency among the students”


4. Time Flies By, Live in the Moment

It may not feel like it when you first board the ship but the time will fly by. Remember to live in the moment and enjoy each and every day. Some advice alumni have is to journal everyday throughout the voyage so that you can look back and see the everyday moments and what you were feeling in those days years later.

“Enjoy every second on the ship!! You will feel stir crazy at times but it is the BEST.”

“I will never have a time like this in my life again and I wish I savored every second of it.”


5. Capture the Moment

As mentioned earlier, time moves fast! Before you know it the voyage will be coming to its last port. Many alumni wish they captured the moment more often so that they can look back on their memories. Whether that is journaling, snapping photos, taking videos, or a combination!


“Write down all the great things you do and eat in each port. Years will pass and you will forget.”


6. Pack Light, Pack Smart

Do not pack so much stuff! When preparing for a semester abroad it may seem like you will need to pack away your entire closet when in reality you will only wear a fraction of it along with purchasing Semester at Sea merch and other souvenirs along the way.

“The ship can get cold so I recommend bringing a small blanket. And pack your own pillow!”

“Download lots and lots of movies since there will be very limited wifi on board.”


7. Be Flexible and Open to Change

Be open to change! Practice Semester at Sea’s favorite F word, being flexible! Things are always changing – from the voyage itinerary to what’s on the menu for lunch. Having an open mind and practicing flexibility will help you not only embrace the inevitable change that occurs on Semester at Sea voyages but also in life!

“Allow yourself to be transformed for the best!”

“Things will change and the sooner you learn and embrace it the better.”


8. Budget

Learning to budget is a very important lesson to learn in life and learning to budget on Semester at Sea is no exception! Going into your semester abroad with a financial plan is something that alumni can’t stress the importance of enough. Know ahead of time what you want to save on and what you want to spend on. Many times students plan to only spend while in country but living on board the ship can come with some expenses as well and sometimes students may overlook this.

“Plan to spend more money onboard than you anticipate.”



9. Plan ahead, but not too much

When it comes to figuring out the balance between field programs and independent travel it of course varies for each person and how they prefer to travel, but balance is always key. If there are certain spots you want to see, especially if they are far from the port that is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of a SAS Field Program. Aspects such as transportation, accommodation and even some meals are handled for you, which is great to not worry about. Also, depending on the country it may be best to stick to field programs or independent travel. For example, visiting countries with less access to transportation are good opportunities for a field programs.

“Start your voyage with more SAS trips and end the voyage with more trips with friends.”


10. Buy More Merch!

The last piece of advice that alumni gave was to buy more merch! Merch is something that is very popular with students on board and lines run out the door on the opening day of the shipboard store. Be sure to snag your favorite products before they sell out!

“You will want to have merch as memories, and they make the best souvenirs!”

“The best selection of buying merch is on board so take advantage of it!”


The World Is Your Campus. What are you waiting for?


 Space is limited РApply today to sail on the Fall 2022 Voyage!


  • Alumni
  • Life at Sea

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