Friday, August 21, 2009

A Bittersweet Farewell

Two and a half months, nine countries, four continents. There was much to see and experience this summer and it passed at a dizzying speed.

Tomorrow morning—in less than 24 hours—Semester at Sea’s 99th voyage, Summer 2009, will come to a close. This has been a summer well spent for all aboard the MV Explorer—students, staff, faculty, lifelong learners and family members. Students challenged themselves and reached well beyond their comfort zones as they explored different foods and people and cultures in these many countries.

Tomorrow’s parting will be bittersweet as students leave a unique community that has formed aboard the MV Explorer. The students have gained a special perspective on the world and their place in it. Some have changed in subtle ways and other students have changed in very noticeable ways, having been deeply affected by their experiences abroad.

They will arrive in Norfolk tomorrow morning with a new direction and new impressions of themselves, with new friends and a wanderlust to explore more of the world, and with a palette expanded by the tastes of Greece, Egypt and Morocco. Below are the final reflections from students, staff, faculty and the voyage’s deans on their time as part of Semester at Sea.

Claire Hunter, Wesleyan University
This experience has enabled me to know that I can work anywhere in the world, comfortably. I never expected that I would need to know that I could feel that way. …I’ve discovered in our travels to these different countries that families are so close and that’s been important, especially in traveling to so many places with my parents. (Claire’s mother, Carol, was librarian on summer voyage.) It’s been really interesting to see all these places with my parents because we can talk about it and have had the rare opportunity to share experiences with one another. Very few people get the opportunity to do that—even want to do it—but it is something that we’ll have forever. And they helped me see things very differently sometimes, in ways that made me think more about where we were. That was helpful for me.

Maia Kobabe, Dominican University
For me this whole trip was really like gathering raw information at such a fast pace. So, by the end of next summer I think will really start to process experience this well and, hopefully, be able to turn what I’ve seen and learned into pieces of art, writing and poems. This summer has certainly helped me grow as an artist in so many ways. I’ve had the chance to sit and sketch some amazing monuments and to view are beyond drawing. It’s been a real growing experience.

Ronalie Dealwis, Seattle University
More than ever I learned on this trip that you can communicate in a million ways if you really want to. Plus, I’ve been much more outgoing and far less afraid of going up and talking to people. The most memorable experience for me was spending time at the home of a Bulgarian friend from my mother’s in Varna. I had only met this woman once, but went to her home, stayed the night, ate traditional Bulgarian food, and struggled to communicate, but we did it. That’s something I never would have done before coming here. I just feel like, because of this entire experience, I’ve become more confident, more aware of the many issues around the world and a better world citizen.

I also came on this voyage very focused on what I wanted to do with my future, but after meeting so many people and making so many connections I started thinking differently and more about what I could do to improve this world and to help people. Now, getting a White House internship is my new goal and Congresswoman [Loretta] Sanchez was a big part of making me think seriously about that.

Dustin Farivar, Univ. of Colorado-Boulder
One of the things that keeps coming to me about Semester at Sea is that the best memories really are free. The times I’ve spent with the new friends I’ve made, traveling to and from destinations, reflecting on the experiences we’ve had are the times I’m going to remember the most. Sitting at dinner for six hours in Sevilla and eating and talking—those are the times I’m going to remember the most and that’s connecting with people.

Kyla Bryant, Norfolk State University
Being on the ship you make such close friendships. I remember staying up for Spain, which was just Day 7 and I felt like these people were my family who’ve I’ve been with for months. I feel like when I leave here I’ll have plenty of friends who I know I’ll be traveling to see, I have a reason to travel so I feel like it’s been a great experience and I’m so happy to have had it.

Rudy Shaffer, Portland State University
It’s been so comforting to travel with all of these people because we’ve come from all over and I came knowing no one and I leave having so many more friends, so many more connections. It’s such a unique experience to return to the ship and hang out with your friends and just share what you’ve done and how your outlooks have changed. And then to be part of a community with young kids and an older generation and you’re all seeing the same thing in a country, but experiencing it in such different ways. You gain a great appreciation for different points of view and seeing something in a whole new way. It’s just been unforgettable. I’m so sad that it’s going to be over. I really, really am.

Beth Knoreck, Univ. of Colorado-Boulder
Being a part of Semester at Sea … I felt like I had a responsibility to not only enjoy my travel experience, but to learn from it. So, I would take every experience and try to relate it back to my classes. I definitely think I gained more going through Semester at Sea; it was a different way of traveling.

Dan Polulak, Florida Gulf Coast University
One thing my parents made me do was to sign up for a service trip so I went on the orphanage tour in Bulgaria. And it was one of the moments I’ll never forget on this trip. We spent three hours at an orphanage in Varna and played with these kids who probably hadn’t ever talked to Americans. It was just a really good experience because it made me think about how I should appreciate the things I have because these kids have nothing and they were so amused with just seeing us. It was a lot of fun and I felt good doing it.

Erin Beaulieu, Univ. of Virginia
My academics have done nothing but help my travels on this trip. My social work class taught me to not just walk into a country, see places, take pictures as proof that I was there and leave. I was able to talk to the people and learn about their child welfare system. I mean, who learns about that stuff when they go into those countries? I would have never even thought to ask those questions or cared if I was just traveling around on my own. …My cross-cultural psychology class taught me that a culture that isn’t westernized is beautiful. When we go into a country or culture that is not like your own it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. You should learn about it—see their customs, why they do them, the history of them. It just makes your experience in the culture so much different than if you didn’t ask or didn’t care. So I think that without these classes I wouldn’t have had the experiences that I had.

Josh Hernandez, Seattle Central Comm. College, (transferring in Fall to MIT)
I know it sounds weird for a physics major to be on a voyage with a theme of human rights and social justice, but there are two reasons. First of all, scientific work has become so globalized that it’s an essential skill for a scientist to be able to work with people of different cultures and backgrounds and to be able to readily adapt to a new situation both in their career and their scientific research. So I figured the best way to learn that would be to go on this program. And also, I think that science and the humanities are very interlinked, you have starvation, population, pollution problems, all of which require serious engineering and scientific research in order to be solved, so it just made sense. And I’m glad I did come on for those reasons and most importantly because I had the opportunity to see some wonderful countries, experience their cultures, and make friends along the way.

Casey Hudetz, SAS Staff, IT Coordinator
From port to port students became more comfortable exploring each place. In Spain, they were so nervous about the language barrier or the money or the food and what to do. By the end it was kind of old hat, but in a way that showed they had developed as travelers and as people in how they related to other cultures. They took more chances with the culture, the food and travel suggestions they received, which was great. …By the end they were more comfortable taking the chances to see a more authentic view of the country. That was a cool change.

Rocky Rohwedder, SAS Faculty, Prof., Sonoma State University
When you go on a voyage like this you can’t help but be changed in some profound way. …The curriculum isn’t just in the classroom. It’s also in the places that we visit. When you can see the world in a different way then you can learn so much from it. Every landscape has a lesson to teach you. …So I just encourage my students to look around and realize that there are so many things to learn if they have the eyes to see. They have to open themselves up to what’s there. They have to treat the place around them as a curriculum and something that can teach them. If you realize that everywhere you are has a lesson to teach you then your life can be so much fuller. So, the pedagogy of place is something I think is an important part of Semester at Sea.

Sadika Sulaiman, SAS Staff, Living Learning Coordinator (LLC)
One student in particular who stood out for me on this voyage in terms of the change I’ve seen in students. At the very beginning of the voyage she talked about being very affirmed in where she was from and that she wasn’t going to change on this journey and didn’t feel like going to these different countries was going to have a real impact on her. Now, after visiting eight countries, she said “I still feel so affirmed in where I’m from and I feel a lot more strength in my hometown, but what I’ve seen and experienced is never going to leave me and I feel so much open and aware of my surroundings and the world.” For me, to hear her verbalize that was really powerful.

Matthew Pollinger, Ithaca College
One of the true highlights for me was in Italy and learning about olive oil. I always thought that it was one of those commonplace products, however, I quickly learned I was wrong. Producing olive oil is a complicated science that requires intricate scientific knowledge, as well as strong family devotion.

Nexus Cook, Temple University
My most beautiful memory of Greece is meeting a 76-year-old woman in Ancient Corinth. She was the sweetest woman I have ever met and she confirmed the fact that the world is full of great people.

Elissa Greene, UC Davis
Taking an hour to walk through eight cars of a train—back to front—on our way to Marrakesh, immersed me in the culture and gave me an experience I will never forget.

Molly Babbington, Chapman Univ.
My first lunch in Rome was by far the most enjoyable experience I had in Italy. We ate at a small restaurant on the corner across from our hotel and were greeted by an older Italian man who seemed to be the owner. He immediately made us feel at home with his eagerness to get to know us. We walked by the restaurant the next day and he recognized us and invited us in for free espresso. It was wonderful to be so welcomed, even as foreigners.

Mike Zoll, Executive Dean, Summer Voyage 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the real interest in learning among our students on this voyage in multiple and non-traditional mediums. A compelling example of this was the student participation in our Explorer Seminars, a line-up of non-credit lectures, discussions, and workshops scheduled each evening at sea. These seminars routinely filled to capacity, with some drawing up to 250 participants--a remarkable testament to the curiosity of our students. I hope they continue to be curious and explore and be open to learning about different people and places in their lives. …In addition, beyond the richness of comparative cultural immersion in eight ports of call, I hope students remember the unique shipboard living-learning environment that has been their summer home.

Shane Rasnak, Cornell Univ. (excerpted from his blog “Shane at Sea”. Click on the title to read entire blog)
…I wanted to wrap up this blog and say that my decision to go on Semester at Sea was quite possibly the single best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It’s been the most exciting, fun and eye-opening summer I’ve ever had, and I’m sure the things I learned and experienced in this voyage will influence what I do for the rest of my life. I’ve made friends all around the country, and interacting with the students and faculty on this ship has opened up the world for me in so many ways. I signed up for this trip thinking this would be the ultimate travel experience, but now I see this as just the beginning of my traveling career. If anyone is interested in learning about this program, I’d love to share my experience with you and give you advice. You can reach me at

Michael Smith, Academic Dean, Summer Voyage 2009 (Excerpted from his remarks to students at the SAS Summer ’09 Convocation)
Over these past 67 days, we’ve experienced a dizzying array of activities, launched several new student organizations, raised funds for scholarships, all in the midst of encountering new people and places. … I hope that as you consider your time on this voyage that, overall, each of you will find it well-spent, and that you believe yourself to be well on the way to becoming the person you aspire to be. Your time here has been defined not only by your accomplishments, and your contributions to your community, but also by your aspirations, and by taking the time to reflect and be with friends.

…I hope and believe that your education here has equipped you to undertake this deceptively simple task of “thinking things through” as you engage with different people, places and cultures. And I think that you will find that this task of living out your hopes and matching them to your accomplishments and your contributions to the wider world—in other words, living your own unique vision of what it means to be truly human—you will find that this task goes on throughout your lives.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Seeing Two Very Different Worlds

Tyler Browne has seen the world in two very different ways: from the end of an automatic rifle while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and, now, as one of 700-plus students studying aboard the MV Explorer.

For four years, Tyler served in the Marines--having joined at age 18. He fought in Iraq for six months and Afghanistan for five months during his four-year military tenure.

He has seen friends die, has had to shoot in order to be shot and killed, has lost friends in battle, and has experienced anger in himself and in the people of the countries in which he battled, like no other anger he has seen or felt before.

“It was the worst four years of my life,” Tyler, now 24, recalls as he shows photos of himself, clad in his military fatigues and gripping a machine gun.

His world is vastly different now and the change is immediate in his appearance. His close-cropped red hair from his military days is now grown out to long surfer locks. He’s traded his gun in for a passport, pen and notebook. But his travel, at least for the past two months, has still been on a ship.

“It’s kind of cool to be on a ship again, especially one like this,” he said. “It’s no where near the same as when I was a Marine.”

In the Battlefield
Tyler always wanted to join the military and had been in and out of military academies while in high school. His father served in Vietnam and for Tyler—part of the 9/11 generation—representing his country just seemed like the right thing to do. During boot camp in San Diego he signed up for infantry. “I wanted to shoot a gun and go on the front lines,” he recalls.

His fleet was sent first to Kuwait and then to Iraq just as the Battle of Fallujah was happening. “It was a really crazy time; you basically lived your life in a live or die mentality. You don’t think about it then, but now, as I’m older I just think, ‘Wow, that was crazy.’ ”

Tyler left the military two years ago and, since then, has been enrolled at Santa Barbara City College.

Although he saw a number of countries while in the Marines and backpacked through Europe after leaving the military, Tyler was intrigued by what Semester at Sea had to offer. “Basically, I wanted to see the world and I thought this would be a cool way to do it,” he said. “And it’s been a pretty cool experience to visit eight countries.”

There was a bit of a culture shock for him, despite having been in college. “I’ve never been in the dorms or spent a lot of time with people who were so much younger,” he said. “But it was cool to see some of these places because their landscapes reminded me of Iraq and Afghanistan. You realize how similar the topography is for so much of this part of the world.”

Different Perspectives
Tyler’s view of the world is vastly different than that of his SAS classmates. “In the military you’re not going into tourist areas at all. You’re in areas where people don’t want to go. But you get to see the back roads of Afghanistan and some villages that have generators for their electricity and no running water.”

Those experiences have helped him appreciate what he’s seen and learned as a student.

And, his time aboard the MV Explorer has provided him with vastly different, but still important, views of the world and provided a different sense of community.

“I’ve learned a lot about foreign and European Union politics,” he said. “And traveling to the different countries re-emphasized the lessons on the cultural norms that we studied.”

Moving Forward
When not studying, in class, or touring a country, Tyler could often be found on the seventh deck of the MV Explorer, playing his guitar. He surprised, and wowed, the SAS community with his playing and singing talents during last night's Open Mic-Talent show.

“Tyler’s a real stand-up guy and a really good kid, pretty laid back,” said Shaun Crisler, Assistant Dean of Students for the summer voyage. “I especially appreciate hearing him play guitar at 12 in the morning when you’re outside stargazing. It’s nice to hear that soft guitar melody in the background.”

Tyler expects to graduate from S.B. City College this fall and plans to transfer to UC Berkeley or another UC campus to study economics.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SAS’s LifeLong Learners

Students will leave their experience on Semester at Sea in four days with friendships that extend beyond those made with classmates. They include bonds with professors, staff, and with a special group of SAS voyagers known as the lifelong learners.

The lifelong learners (better known as the LLLs) are a diverse group of travelers, most of whom have traveled the world throughout their lives, have retired from their jobs, and, for several, are repeat alums of Semester at Sea voyages.

The LLLs created a sort of extended family aboard the MV Explorer. They become the surrogate parents and grandparents for many students, and often keep in touch with them long after a voyage is over. But more than that, the lifelong learners help create an intergenerational learning community and provide different perspectives that can enhance the students’ learning on the ship.

“I think many of the students realize that in lifelong learners they have people who can talk about a place and about experiences,” says Carol Larson, coordinator of the summer voyage’s lifelong learner program and director of UPitt’s study abroad program.

She added: “You see many of the students coming up to us and asking ‘Have you been here before? What should I know?’ I think that community leads to an education that is unique.”

How It Started
Adult learners have sailed with Semester at Sea for almost as long as SAS has been around. However, an organized program—that includes daily meetings with guest speakers and special programs—was created about 16 years ago and has been operating as such ever since. The uniqueness of this sailing experience has inspired repeat lifelong learner voyagers, some as many as 20 times!

“This is an experience of a lifetime, even for lifelong learners,” says Betty Waldron who, with her husband Milt, has sailed on more than a dozen voyages.

The Waldrons were introduced to Semester at Sea by their daughter, who sailed as a student. She encouraged them to come on as lifelong learners. Milt, instead, joined as the doctor for a voyage and continued in that role for many years after and Betty eventually became coordinator of the LLL program when they both sailed. Milt has reprised his role as physician on the Summer 2009 voyage and Betty is co-coordinator this summer.

“We have definitely changed from being on these voyages and we feel very lucky,” says Betty.

A Change for All
Students change as well from their time spent with the lifelong learners.

“It is so nice to sit and talk with people who have such extensive life experiences and have traveled all around the globe,” says student Nhesty Ong. “I enjoy hearing their opinion in class, even if I don’t agree with it. It forces you to think a bit differently and look at things differently. And that’s all part of the experience.”

The intellectual engagement entices many lifelong learners to sail with Semester at Sea, including current lifelong learner Linda Berbrick. “I like learning about the countries I’m going to. I like interacting with the students and with the professors; it’s such a nice community,” says Berbrick, who is sailing for a second time as an LLL.

“You don’t get this when you go on any other cruise or group travel.”

Carol Larson agrees. “We’ve been on the fluffy cruise ships with the feather dancer show at 8 o’clock at night. It’s get old, fast. But to sit over dinner and discuss world politics, to learn a language and culture, to listen to the interport lecturers—it’s incredibly eye-opening.”

Carol’s husband, George Bentrem, has been pleasantly surprised by his first voyage experience. “As a lifelong physician, and with my military experience, I thought I had seen a lot,” he explains. “It was small in comparison to what I’ve seen on this voyage, in terms of a life experience: meeting and talking with people, visiting ports, the classroom work (I’ve attended 4 classes). It’s an expedition of discovery and that’s always fun.”

Learners Who Span Generations
This summer’s lifelong learners are a diverse group of individuals who range in age from their early 20s to their late 80s. They include a founding member of the Granny Peace Brigade, retirees (school teachers, physicians, business leaders), and professionals on leave.

Included in the group are three working teachers who make up SAS’s “Teachers at Sea” program. The program is open to all certified K-12 teachers and allows them to take course for which they can gain professional development credits.

Jenny Kim is one of three teachers on the Summer ’09 voyage. “This is my first time on a ship and my first time crossing the Atlantic, ever,” says Kim, a high school history teacher in northern California. “I’ve been teaching about all of these countries and for me to never have seen them is shameful. But now I can go back to my students with actual pictures of these places and stories.”

Stories and Relationships for a Lifetime
Jenny and the rest of the lifelong learners this summer have developed relationships as strong as those the students have made with one another. They are relationships that will carry on for years, as is the case with the Waldrons and other repeat LLL voyagers.

“We take something away from every voyage no matter how many times we’ve done it,” Betty says. “It’s a special experience. One that just makes you want to come back.”

Click on the image at right to watch the YouTube video about Semester at Sea's Lifelong Learner program.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Fleet Footed View of the Mediterranean

SAS voyager Matthew Pollinger has taken a novel approach to touring most of the ports the program has visited this summer: he runs them.

It’s not a simple jog; Matthew has logged between 50 to 100 miles per port, averaging two hours for each run. Matthew is an ultra-marathon runner, which means that he runs races that are marathon length (26.2 miles) and above. His longest race was 72 miles.

As an ultra-long-distance runner, Matthew has had to maintain his training between long stretches at sea and participating in tours in each country. He is also training for a 100-mile race in Vermont in early October. The running regiment has been quite educational for the Ithaca College student.

“Each city has presented its own unique challenges. As the voyage went on it got more difficult to navigate a good running route,” he notes.

Between cultural differences (being stopped in Istanbul for running without a shirt and then for not covering his shoulders) and navigating roadways (drivers rarely stop for pedestrians in Piraeus, Greece), Matthew has understood the differences of countries from his unique perspective.

“It’s definitely been a challenge and a growing experience,” he said. “You get a real different feel for each city that you can only gain by smelling it, getting lost in it, feeling a bit threatened it and allowing yourself to really explore it.”

Matthew said his two best running cities were Cadiz, Spain and Dubrovnik, Croatia. His best memory: Seeing a bear during a run in the hills just outside Dubrovnik. “I just waited for it to move on before I did.”

First Annual SAS Short Film Festival is a Hit

From an "infomercial" for an alarm clock featuring "The Voice" of the voyage (aka-Asst. Exec. Dean Dia Draper) to a test of smarts against small kids (Can you say "Civitavecchia"?), Semester at Sea students, faculty, staff and even small kids joined in for the first annual short film festival during the last week of the voyage.

Ten films ranging in length from 30 seconds to about five minutes were screened to a standing-room only audience in the ship's Union. Winning videos included traveling form a deaf person's perspective, a photo slideshow of Istanbul, a kid-inspired cookie caper and a top prize, student-created film on the power of art.

The winning student video, by Tia Dawkins-Hendricks, will be included in the official DVD commemorating the summer voyage. You can view the other winners by clicking on the videos below.

Second Place Winner: Detective Stamper Film

Detective Stamper and the
Case of the Missing Cookie

First Place Tie Winner (non-student): "Istanbul" by SAS Staffer Casey Hudetz

Istanbul .

Third Place Winner: "Egypt from a Deaf Person's Perspective" by SAS Staffer Lissa Place

A Life Marked by Travel & SAS Voyages

When she steps off the MV Explorer, in Norfolk, Virginia, in less than a week, Kara Gregory will end her third Semester at Sea voyage and added three new countries to her current total of 36 countries and 35 states.

It’s a lot of traveling for someone so young (she’s 23), and not quite expected from a girl who grew up in Anadarko, Oklahoma, a town of 6,000 people, and attends college in another small town, in Emporia, Kansas.

But Kara belies her small town image. She is a self-described risk taker, adventurer, and experienced traveler. She started at age16 as a foreign exchange student in Australia for the summer. And, she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. (Aside from her SAS voyages, she’s has been on six cruises and plans to go on another, short one in January to the Cayman Islands and Mexico.)

Kara first sailed with Semester at Sea on the Fall 2007 voyage. “I knew the moment I got off that voyage that I was coming back,” she recalls. She returned in May 2008 for an Enrichment Voyage to Central America and then again for this summer’s voyage.

Kara’s wanderlust didn’t start with Semester at Sea. She credits her father with the initial spark in traveling. He traveled around the world in the Army and now works in China setting up an Asian division for his job. He has used Kara's voyages on SAS as an excuse to travel to Vietnam and, most recently, Greece to visit her.

Kara does cite her experience with Semester at Sea as having stoked her interest in international travel.

“I just absolutely loved getting to see the world, especially experiencing the different cultures,” she says. “It just made me want to continually come back and see different parts of the world. And I think this is the best opportunity because you not only get to take classes, you get to learn about [the countries] in depth.”

The experience on Semester at Sea also prompted Kara to travel to South Korea last summer to teach English to college students through a program at her home university.

Kara could have studied abroad elsewhere, but returned to Semester at Sea because of its unique opportunities for global learning and exploration.

“I did have the opportunity to study abroad at Oxford, but I chose Semester at Sea again because you get to go to a lot of countries and see so much more. You get to experience a lot more versus just being in England for a whole summer. I think it’s a better learning experience to go to several instead of just staying in one,” she says.

Kara doesn’t have an unlimited bank account to pay for the voyages. A combination of financial aid, grants from her home school, and long-term saving helped her afford the Fall ’07 and Summer ’09 voyages.

Kara returns to her college ready to complete her final year and graduate with a double major in business marketing and psychology. Her post-college plan for now is to move to China to join her father and brother to either teach English, work for a business, learn Mandarin, or all of the above.

She is certain, however, that her life will mirror her passport: filled with as many adventures and experiences abroad as there are stamps from those countries.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How Students Afford Semester at Sea

Many students would love to be a part of the Semester at Sea experience, but often don’t think it’s possible because of their financial constraints.

Quite the contrary. Lots of students get financial assistance.

In fact, nearly half of the students on the Summer ’09 voyage received financial aid from the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE). For the past several years, ISE has been working diligently to build an annual fund to support scholarships and aid to make voyages accessible for all interested students.

“ISE is committed to making sure that all students who want to participate in Semester at Sea have the opportunity to do so,” said Mike Zoll, executive dean of the Summer ’09 voyage and Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs for the Institute for Shipboard Education.

"We believe strongly in the program’s mission and that the experience truly deepen one’s understanding of issues and cultures around the world and one’s place in the world," Zoll said. "Everyone—regardless of their financial situation—should be able to be a part of that.”

In the past three years, the fund for financial assistance has doubled from $1.6 million to $3.25 million. For the summer voyage, ISE provided just over $1 million in aid to nearly 44% of the students, averaging $3,300 per student—the most financial assistance ever given for a summer voyage. Of that aid, 49% was in need-based grants; 38% were scholarships and 13% were student leadership awards.

Students have also managed to afford the Semester at Sea voyage in a number of other ways. Read on to learn how some of the Summer 2009 voyagers have paid for Semester at Sea to have an experience of a lifetime.

Sarah Shepherd, Bowling Green State University
I applied for a lot of scholarships both through SAS and my home university. I also did a lot of work and saved a lot of money before coming. My parents did a parent-student loan, but most of it is through my own.

Emily Bialas, U-Pitt
I almost wasn’t able to come because I didn’t have the means to come on the ship. I applied for all the scholarships that Semester at Sea offered and I got a needs-based grant a small merit-based scholarship. I took out a loan from my bank to cover the remainder. It was important enough for me to do this; I wanted to make sure I could come.

Ana Alexandrescu, Lehigh University
I applied for tons of financial aid. I was pretty much on the e-mail almost every day. IAnd I applied for all the scholarships that were available and I got a few of them. So, combined, I got a financial aid package that allowed me to be able to come.

Shani Graves, Temple Univ.
My mother and stepfather gave me $2,000 and then I took out a little over $3,000 in Stafford loans and a $5,000 private loan. It was definitely important enough for me to do that I wanted to take out loans to help me pay for it.

Audrey Rupnow, North Texas University
My entire voyage was paid for with scholarships and grants—about $9,000 through SAS and $1,700 was from my home school. I also worked a lot before I came (to pay for books and tours) and my family also helped me out. I specifically came for the summer because it was a better financial option for me.

Chelsea Person, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.
I applied for and received some financial aid through ISE and I also applied for two other scholarships and I got one from the Golden Key International Honor Society. I paid for the rest through a $4,000 student loan I took out myself. I am using that to cover the tuition balance, books, tours, FDPs (faculty directed practica), and spending money.

Amy Robinson, Flagler College
I’m paying for this whole thing myself. I paid for a lot of it myself through scholarships at school and work as an R.A. (resident advisor) at school. I saved about $9,000 by working as an RA at my home school. I also got the R.A. program here and I got a $500 scholarship from SAS. Plus, I worked for six weeks before I left for this trip and then have relied on whatever money is in my bank account.

Erica Morrissette, SUNY Oswego
I’m paying for this myself. I applied the day you could apply for the Summer voyage and decided on the summer because it was less expensive than a fall or spring voyage. Then, I basically spent nearly a year trying to find ways to save. Some things I did were:
• Apply to be an R.A. at my school and to be an R.A. on the ship
• Purposely take online classes at home and live at home (I go to school 3 hours away).
• I took out a Stafford loan to cover my room and board, even though I was living at home, and just applied that money to my SAS voyage.

Lauren Armstrong, Michigan State University
My parents each paid half of the tuition and I worked before I came to save money. I also received an R.A. position on the ship, which has helped cover the cost of trips and incidentals.

Colby Melvin, Spring Hill College
I applied for as many scholarships as I could and my family helped pay for the rest. It was probably my Christmas, birthday and even graduation present.

Nico Kerr, UC Santa Cruz
I’ve been planning on Semester at Sea for over a year and have been saving for all that time. I mainly afforded it through SAS’s financial aid. They granted me $7,000 total, including my R.A. position on the ship. I saved another $6,000 working as an R.A. at my university. I also received some help from my grandparents and family friends. The money I saved from my R.A. work at my home institution allowed me to pay for tours and traveling expenses like air flights and books.

Eric Paulino, Sarah Lawrence College
I was fortunate enough to receive a full tuition scholarship through that National Society of High School Scholars. I still had to pay for books, tours and everything else and my family helped scrape together some money for me to do that.

Sarah Cogdill, Univ. of Texas
I started working in high school at 16 because I knew that, in college, I wanted to study abroad and that I would have to pay for it. I was preparing for the Semester at Sea voyage for a year and saving up for the idea of studying abroad for three years. So, through my own savings and taking out a loan, I was able to do it all on my own.

Nexus Cook, Temple University
I got almost all of it covered by SAS (through the partnership with the Diversity Abroad program) and the rest was my mom and family friends.

Francisco Martinez, Stanford University
I got most of my money from the Diversity Abroad Scholarship. Then I got additional financial assistance from Semester at Sea, saved some from a previous job, and took out a federal loan.

Jessica Bingham, Brigham Young University
Financial aid covered most of my costs. My family can’t help. I have six little brothers and sisters. Whatever financial aid didn’t cover came from money I’ve saved from working.