Q&A: going solo on Semester at Sea and other Q's

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First of all, I want to start out by saying this is awesome you have set this up. I want to do Semester at Sea, but I just don’t know much about it to sign up quite yet! Here are some my questions: Summer or spring? Is 100 days too long?

I am from Birmingham, AL this is going to be way out of my comfort zone do you recommend finding a friend or just going alone. Is their a good floor to be on and does the inside/outside room make a difference? How many classes did you take while you were there and did studying abroad put you behind in your studies when you got back to school?

Sorry, I know that’s a lot of questions, but I am so so so interested and literally so excited and I haven’t even signed up yet!!!!
— Caroline W.

Hi, Caroline. Thanks for your message!

I'm happy to give you whatever advice I have about SAS, because I really believe in the concept. I can speak from my own experience, and hopefully it gives you another window into the program.

Going alone

Don't be intimidated by attacking this experience alone. Solo travelers are never alone, anyway. You will make friends very quickly, and going alone allows you to be even more open to meeting new and diverse people. Otherwise, you bring home with you, and that may mean you'll have a harder time immersing in the foreign.

Facebook friends with Alexis and Garrett on Semester at Sea

Facebook friends with Alexis and Garrett on Semester at Sea

I went alone and met these two lovely people as we embarked on day one. Five years later, I still see them at least twice a year (unless one of them is in the depths of the African continent or something). This sort of trip attracts an awesome crowd. There will be no paucity of interesting people on your voyage.

The length and cabin choice

I did Spring 2007, and I loved the experience of 100 days at sea. If it's the first time you've been really far away from home or your community, I don't think you'll find it too long a trip. Most people come home feeling like it just wasn't enough. It's always a blur. I felt fully circumnavigating the world also provided a unique world travel experience and inspired some interesting comparisons between world cultures. That's why I vote for you taking a full semester.

Advice from Twitter:

Definitely summer with porthole. 70 days was perfect

from @ANMcCarty

Advice from Facebook:

I absolutely adored my spring voyage, the best part was celebrating my birthday on the amazon river! 100 day is not too long, it actually felt too short for me lol Each port had nice, warm summery weather - which is great to escape the winter months back home. I loved it so much that I actually am thinking about going on another spring voyage :)

from Chérie King of Flight of the Travel Bee

DEFINITELY Spring. I think 100 days was the perfect amount of time - it may seem like a long time now, but as soon as you get on that ship you are not going to want to leave. I would say to a prospective SASer that they are going to look back after the experience is over and wish they could live it over and over again - spend as much time as you can seeing the world! As far as the porthole goes, I loved having one and I am really glad I spent the extra money to be in a room that had one. However, if you are really trying to save money I would say to go ahead and skimp on this aspect above other things, I don't think my overall experience would have been much different if I would have been in an inside room. You don't spend much time at all in your room anyways. Hope that is helpful :) Now I have serious SAS withdrawals!!!

from Allison Davis of Frosch Travel

Spring and 100 days. Wouldn't do it any other way. I didn't mind not having a porthole. Kept our room pitch black which was awesome for catching up on sleep and naps. :)

from Laura Stolen and Anna Rose of a stellar S'07 voyage

spring FOR SURE. and we loved our porthole!

from Alexis Reller of the best cabin mate ever

I was randomly assigned to deck 2 and loved it. The lower and further back you are in the ship, the less movement you feel. I don't think you can control what deck they put you in, but you can ask for a porthole (which I did and am very thankful for). My roommate and I spent hours staring into the rocking ocean beside us, and the natural light was really lovely to have in there. It made for a more comfortable and social environment rather than just a place to sleep.

If money is a huge factor, then a room without a porthole won't define your experience as bad by any means. If you can splurge, opt for a porthole.

Academic credit

MV Explorer pimps all over the world

MV Explorer pimps all over the world

Fortunately, I knew I wanted to do SAS well in advance, and I could plan for those classes in my overall college curriculum. Because of that, and because I pushed for my courses to count at my university once back home, I got as much as I could academically from the trip. I took Oceanography, Art History, Global Studies (required), and School and Society. I'm glad I only took four. Don't take more if you don't HAVE to for your university requirements. The assignments are challenging, and when you're onboard you're often distracted by planning your next big adventure with new friends than you are concerned with your western art class grade.

I love how excited you are. THAT alone is reason enough to say you should apply and go. Don't overthink it. There's not one person I've encountered in five years that hasn't found it the most life-changing experience to date. It changed the whole trajectory of my life. GO. FOR. IT.

Was this post helpful? Have any more questions about the experience of Semester at Sea? Any questions period? Send a video or message to me with your queries, and I'll be sure to get back to you!