I have had many people interested in my trip around the world. The Semester at Sea program is AMAZING and I recommend it to any and all. There are scholarships, work study, and home institution financial aid options. If you really want to go, you’ll find a way! 🙂Ask any questions you’d like in the comments!
1) You are the luckiest person on the planet, don’t forget that. When you’re dripping with sweat on the Amazon or stuck on a dusty back road in Ghana or lost in China or crying about a starving Indian orphan or sick off the coast of South Africa, don’t EVER forget that.
2) Set aside a time every single day for sitting outside by yourself and meditating. The ocean will be one of the things you miss most of all after the voyage. And when else do you get to LIVE on the ocean…love every second of it and let yourself learn from the sea…it can be applied to everything in your life.
3) Don’t hurry meal times. Plan on spending anywhere from an hour to four hours at the dinner table. Remember there are no cellphones…one of the hardest parts of the voyage for me was when we arrived in Hawaii and everyone disconnected from our tight-knit community to pull out their cellphones. I still miss being free from the technology world… You will be closer with your SAS friends than you ever thought possible because you have hours of talking time with them with NO distractions. It’s the best.
4) Get your school work done ASAP. While you may be tempted to do your best work while on SAS (I certainly was), just stick to the basics so you can get back to learning about the world through your professors, hanging with your friends, and/or being sea sick in the bathroom. At the same time, remember that this voyage is about learning—soak up knowledge from every source (professors, books, observation, guest speakers, etc.) Everyone is really close on the ship, you eat dinner with your professors, play with your professor’s kids, and even know when your professor is on bad terms with her/his spouse. 🙂 It’s a once-in-a-lifetime environment!
5) Other than a couple unique big trips SAS offers (like South Africa and Tibet for me), explore on your own. I know, people will tell you it isn’t safe, but honestly, it is safe if you’re not stupid. If you are smart, stick with friends, avoid night wandering, don’t drink or do drugs in port, you can plan on most likely being safe for your entire voyage. Yes, it’s scary now to think about doing it “yourself” but it’s SO worth it. I wish I would have not planned so much during my trips in port…I stopped going to some of my SAS trips half way through the voyage because I knew traveling on my own would be better.
6) Don’t be afraid to open your mind. Yes this means learning about the countries and people you visit, but I’m talking about your fellow shipmates. I had some of the most enlightening conversations of my life while at sea for days at a time. This is the time to be completely open-minded…
7) Write in your journal daily!!! I cannot stress this enough. I am so grateful for every word I wrote down and yearn for more. You will not, and cannot, remember everything when you get home…visiting 12-15 countries is just too much. Recently it hit me how much I had forgotten; it just made me more grateful for the four SAS journals on my shelf. Also blog, it makes coming home easier…your readers will have an idea of what you went through.
8) Approach your entire journey saying “how will I use my experiences to help others later” rather than “what will I see today that I can brag about later”. My voyage has changed my life completely, yes, but it also gave me the duty to change the world with all that I learned and saw. This voyage can be about so much more than you, your life, your check-off list. This voyage will be the start of your new life!