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I applied to Semester at Sea's Short Term "Engineering a New Tomorrow" Voyage knowing that it was the opportunity of a lifetime and a dream that I had cast off as unachievable. I am an engineering student and set to graduate in 4 years with no chance of taking a semester away to study abroad and yet that had been the one goal I set for myself in choosing a college. When I found out that Semester at Sea was not only offering a summer study abroad option but providing engineering classes and taking a Latin America route, I was sure fate was trying to scream in my face, "Allison, now is your chance." I applied to Semester at Sea and various scholarships, and my dream came true. I traveled to 7 countries in less than a month, met some truly incredible students and individuals with passion, and started a voyage that will continue to shape my future for many years to come.
During the Fall 2011 semester, I got the opportunity of a lifetime to travel and study in fourteen countries. After speaking with my advisor at Mount Ida College, I looked into the Semester at Sea program because he went on the voyage when he was going through school. Never being outside of the United States before, I had no idea what to expect while abroad, but I knew it would be an incredible experience.
Going into this voyage I was expecting to not only help others as much as I could, but I wanted to be able to find out more about myself. One of my favorite days during the entire voyage was when I got the opportunity to help out at Operation Hunger in South Africa. I knew I was helping out people for the day, but i did not expect to fall in love with all of the people that I met that day. I hope to soon be able to go back to visit all of the people that I met. This study abroad voyage has not only changed my outlook on life, but it has also helped me realize that throughout my life I want to help as many people as possible.
I would encourage everyone to go on the Semester at Sea program because it is such an eye opening experience, that has helped me out so much. The locals you meet, stories you acquire, and friends that you gain are just the start of the possibilities that come out of doing this study abroad program.
Try to See the World Beyond Your Front Door: Sydney, Australia
The day I arrived in Sydney, Australia was indubitably the greatest day of my life. My arrival unlocked intellectual doors that I believed would remain locked forever. Monmouth University helped extend my English education across the Pacific. While at Macquarie University in Sydney, I studied Australian literature among other courses such as Australian Sociology, and Aboriginal Studies. However, upon my departure from Sydney, I came back to the States with an entirely different perspective in life. No longer did I feel that I was a small, narrow-minded American content with a humdrum, mediocre life; for my dreams and desires in life changed entirely. I no longer felt that the major I was in at the time was how I planned to spend the rest of my life. I yearned for a career that would understand, question, and analyze the world, I knew that I aspired to be a writer; a profession that I believed could truly influence, aid, and contribute to people’s lives.
While in Sydney, I realized that I was obligated to break free from my comfortable life. I knew no one, knew nothing of the city, and I felt like I was abandoned. Yet this feeling of abandonment compelled me to meet people from all over the world from every ethnic and religious background. I gained a broader more accepting world view and all the while I was living the dream. While in Sydney, I did things I never dreamed I would have done before like: swimming with sharks and skydiving and although some condone such as activities as reckless, adrenaline-filled stupidity; I finally had a rupture of identity, and realized who and what kind of person I was meant to become. Departing Sydney was one of the more traumatic experiences of my life and I am grateful for the time I spent there and the knowledge I attained. My experience has become the cornerstone and foundation of my education at Monmouth and will continue to influence me on my path of life.
I spent an academic year in China, and it feels like a dream. My video illustrates this much better:
I truly enjoyed my experience studying abroad in Argentina for 5 months with API in 2010. I did the early-start intensive language option when I first arrived, which helped me to acclimate so well to the language that I placed into a high enough level of Spanish to take all of my classes in Spanish during the semester. This was after just 5 semesters of Spanish classes prior to studying abroad (unlike many people I know, I didn't take the language in high school)! I also lived with a host family, which was not only great language immersion, but was a great way to really experience the culture and people of Argentina firsthand.
One of my favorite parts about studying abroad was getting to travel. Argentina is about 1/3 the size of the U.S., so there is so much to see! I saw deserts (Salta and Tucuman in the northwest), waterfalls (Iguazu Falls in the northeast), penguins in the wild (Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world), hiked snowy mountains (in Bariloche, also in the south), and even went to Oktoberfest (in a quaint town near Cordoba called Villa General Begrano). And that's just some of the more major trips. API does a bunch of really cool excursions, both within the country and to Colonia (in Uruguay).
Buenos Aires is amazing as well. I don't think I could have gotten bored even if I had never left the city at all! My favorite thing to do was to go to the weekend markets, and I also really enjoyed going to shows, taking tango classes, and the night life (which is unbelievable). I did a 3-month internship at a start-up while I was studying as well, which I loved.
To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Argentine food. I will say that they have some of the best steak I've ever tasted, and the wine, empanadas and medialunas (sweet croissants) are delicious. But other than that, I found the food to be very bland and flavorless. It's a lot of pasta, pizza, and TONS of beef which is all great, but I got bored of it quickly. That being said, most of my friends loved the food, so maybe I'm just spoiled/picky.
API was amazing, from the application process to the support staff in Argentina and even keeping in touch with students when we returned. Whenever I had questions during the application process, they always responded super promptly, and their online toolbox had more than enough information so that I felt completely prepared when I left (the language resources were especially great for last-minute brushing up on the plane).
When I arrived I was greeted by Carmen – our resident director – as well as a couple of API staff members who were visiting for the week, and some of the other students in my group. Carmen spoke to us in Spanish from day one (only translating when need be for the students who were learning for the first time), and became like a mom to us while we were there. She had everyone over to her apartment for a huge dinner the first night, as well as hosting us for several more dinners and events in her home and the API office. Gabby – who helps lead some of the tours and trips with Carmen – was also amazing. She knows more about Argentina’s history and culture than I think most history professors there probably do! She is also an amazing tango dancer, and took us to the milonga for our first lesson.
We were a small group of about 10 students, which I loved, because we became like family while we were there (unlike the huge programs some of our friends were in, which tended to be a lot more clique-y). I still visit with several of my friends from abroad at least a couple of times a year, even though we live all over the U.S. Another great thing about API was that they take so much care with choosing host families that live very central. So although the school was in a residential area, everyone in my program lived right in the middle of the busiest shopping/night life areas. That meant a longer commute to school but it was totally worth it for the conveniences that came with such a central location.
It would be impossible to articulate all the ways studying abroad changed me in just a few words (in fact, I’m probably not even aware of many of the ways I’ve changed!). That being said, I think the broadening of my horizons/perspective shift I experienced is the change I’ve been most conscious of. The mixture of seeing a completely new part of the world and immersing myself in the culture/history/politics/language, and meeting people from all over with fascinating stories – some traveling around the world “just because,” others working remotely so they could live anywhere – was very eye-opening. I was reminded of how big the world really is, but at the same time, how where you go and what you do is really only limited to what you can imagine and set your mind to.
I would go again in a heartbeat. I hope to take another trip to South America very soon, so that I can visit some of the other countries I didn’t make it to (because I was so busy seeing as much of Argentina as I could!), and I definitely want to go back to Argentina someday.
If you love adventure, want to learn or improve your Spanish and are looking for a truly unique and exciting study abroad experience, look no further! I highly recommend Argentina with API.
March 12, 2012
To Whom It May Concern:
My husband and I were lucky enough to sail on the Fall 2010 Semester At Sea cruise as a Lifelong Learner. It was an experience of a lifetime sharing the world with other Lifelong Learner Adults and 600 college students from around the U.S. One of the programs on the ship was the Extended Family Program. We “adopted” six students and over the course of the three months really did become a family. We learned so much from these bright, talented young people! Two of the students went on to represent the United States as teachers in Korea and China. All the students, including ourselves, are active in support causes now in Ghana. We were invited and will attend one of “our girl’s” weddings in April, 2013. Needless to say we are very proud of them.
Isn’t this an amazing way for all of us to see what is really happening around the world??!! The realization of just how we are all connected in this world and that there is hope and good in all countries has inspired us and given us an entirely different outlook and perspective!
We look forward to helping our grandchildren sail with Semester At Sea when they are ready while in college. Frank and I look forward to our next cruise in Spring, 2013. Just because you have entered your retirement years doesn’t mean you should stop educating yourself. Semester At Sea is a wonderful way to stay connected to education and travel the world. I am very proud to be an alumni of such a positive and powerful organization!
After high school, I made the decision to go as far away to school as possible. Leaving San Francisco I chose to study at a school near Baltimore, more than 3,000 miles away. I never really thought about studying abroad, more than just in a fleeting way. During my sophomore year of college, a fellow student shared an experience she had visiting Kenya during a race relations class. She talked about the first time she really began to see what it meant to be in the minority. Our school was working on diversity but things were still in the early stages. I immediately inquired about how she was able to travel to Africa, and I knew things would never be the same. I spent 100 days traveling to countries that I had never even considered in my past. I shared food and music and friendships with people young and old who came from different backgrounds, but who shared the same dreams of a fulfilling life and purpose. I met expatriates who had left the United States in search of themselves, and I met local taxi drivers who wanted to introduce me to their whole families. It has now been 10 years since those experiences flooded through my system and I have been able to bring some important pieces home. I currently work with six friends who have all been abroad and learned about the impact that intercultural connections can have. We volunteer with refugees here in California, and we continue to work on understanding how to support the world community. Now, we can share some of our own stories and learn about how each individual provides a beautiful piece to the map of life.
How do I summarize three life-changing Semester at Sea Voyages on the Fall '99, Summer '04, and Summer '05 trips? I am fortunate enough to have sailed as a student, Adult Passenger, and staff member. On the first voyage, my parents did not support the voyage financially, but all of the hours I spent fundraising, working five jobs (all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA), and convincing my university that an Education Major could indeed learn about the world by being immersed in it and not just the classroom were worth it the moment I boarded the ship that September 14 of 1999. As I reflect back on that first voyage, I tell my friends and family that I embarked on the voyage as a young girl who was literally afraid to drive to the nearest town by herself and came back as an independent woman who was ready to conquer the world. I founded the local alumni chapter for my area, and seeing how I had changed and hearing of others' experiences on the voyage made my parents have a new perspective of the program. Suddenly, they were Semester at Sea's number one fans, and that came to fruition when my mom and I sailed on the inaugural voyage of the current ship and first Teachers at Sea voyage as Adult Passengers the Summer of 2004. Even while growing up, since I was always in school or in other activities, we had never spent that much time together. The cabins on the ship are not large, and the joke amongst family members was that one of us would throw each other overboard before the voyage was complete. That did not happen, but instead we bonded in a way that few mothers and daughters can. Since she had rarely ventured outside of the country, I saw my mom blossom and change, and we did adventure together like those I did with my college friends five years prior on my first voyage. I will never forget the time we had together and will cherish it forever. The next year, I was blessed to be chosen as a staff member, and seeing the voyage from that perspective was amazing! The faculty and staff members' kids who I worked with as the Dependent Children Coordinator became like my own kids, and my experiences as a teacher on land were put to good use on the ship. On this voyage, I had more independence in traveling than I had on previous voyages and was proud of myself for being adventurous. I also had the chance to meet wonderful faculty, staff, and students.
It is hard to believe that my first voyage was almost thirteen years ago. I still keep in contact with my first roommate and friends that I met on each voyage. In fact, just this past weekend I had my wedding reception. Fellow alum who could come were there, and my Maid of Honor was a well-known Semester at Sea alum. Every job that I have received has been through a connection made from the program, and I still remember the interview from my first teaching job. When asked why I stood out amongst the other ten finalist, the committee told me that, when talking about the voyage, I had a spark in my eye that the other candidates just did not have. This led them to even let me teach a course called Global Studies, where I literally got paid to teach one class to middle school students about my SAS adventures. Now I am in the process of finishing my PhD, and I found out about the program through an SAS alum who attended one of my chapter meetings. There are only a handful of individuals who have sailed as a student, Adult Passenger, staff member, and faculty member, and my goal with my PhD is to eventually be one of them.
The Semester at Sea journey never ends. When I see a place on TV where I have been, I have to pinch myself to realize, "Wow! I have actually been there in person!" There are many nights when I still have Semester at Sea dreams. When someone asks me to close my eyes and think of a happy place, it is always outside, sitting on the back deck, watching the waves. When I visit the ship, it still feels like my home away from home, and my hope is that more students can have the chance to have the life changing experiences that the program has afforded me and continues to do so as I go about my life's journey.
SAS Short Term 2011 <3
There is NOTHING like a SEMESTER AT SEA.
I've been in the field over 35 years and yet I still talk about my first international experience -- in the '70s- as a graduate student in the SIT international career program [now the SIT Graduate Institute]. My internship with the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi changed the course of my life. It opened a window on the world that, up to that time (and I was already 27!) was closed. It was not easy for my parents to fully understand why I had decided to travel so far as part of my educational experience in Vermont. Of course, there was no internet and virtual "connectivity" which now softens the isolation and distance between students and their families. But the challenges I faced, and they were personal and political at the time, strengthened my resolve and convinced me that I should further explore a career that would continue to widen my worldview. And that's exactly the gift I gave myself…
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