Study Abroad

Q&A: The truth about Semester at Sea

Q&A: The truth about Semester at Sea

Hi Lindsay,

I have just been accepted by SAS for the Spring 2011 voyage, and I randomly chanced upon your website. I am currently having a hard time trying to decide between a Semester at Sea program and a study abroad program in Berlin.

I know they sound very different, but I think they appeal to different parts of me, which makes it even harder to decide. Hence, I have some questions about your experience if you don't mind answering:

1. When you were traveling around the ports, did you feel they were too touristy? I don't want to limit myself to only exploring typical tourist destinations.

2. How strong were the academics? I know that the main experience comes from the ports, but I still want to learn and enjoy my classes. Did most people take classes seriously?

3. I wanted to clarify this with you. I heard that SAS had a reputation of being a "booze cruise" or a "party boat" in the past. How did you feel about that from your experience?

I just thought that it would be good to consult with someone who has been through the experience. Best, Alyssa

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Fruition: Day 1

Best Ship on the High Seas

I’m sinking into my shipboard bed (wow, no pun intended), and I can believe it. About two feet from my head is the open sea: crashing waves, gluttonous sharks, monstrous whales, and probably a good handful of shipwrecked boats. That’s scary to think about considering I am going to be on this vessel for the next one hundred days and am surely going to encounter my share of rough waters. The engine’s hum accompanies the ship’s pitches, and I thank the student directors from the bottom of my sea legs that I sleep on the lowest level, minimizing that rocking effect. After sitting through two sea meetings with the Dean and Co., as well as my Residential Director (the equivalent of an R.A.), I’m stunned in my own ability to hold down my dinner while swaying to and fro…ever so gently.

I am aboard the 92nd voyage of Semester at Sea; as unnerving as it may seem, this is my new life…be jealous.

An hour and a half of waiting in line got me to the ship, and five minutes of registration got me to my cabin. Upon stepping foot on my floor, a.k.a. the Aegean Sea, I met my roommate, who has surpassed my expectations thus far. A sophomore from Minnesota, with future plans in law and her priorities completely aligned, she’s also a winner in the personality department.

As I can only imagine, my mother is in Florida right now, meeting her girlfriends for a wee vacation, drinking margaritas by the pool, and crying about her sea bound daughter. Blubbering, from either side, can only describe the scene hours earlier, when I said goodbye to my parents for 100 days. And now as I adorn my room walls with antique-looking world maps and pictures like the marking of life achievements on the refrigerator door, I know I’ve got more to look forward to than I can fathom in this little confused brain of mine. Meeting hundreds of new friends on a daily basis, eating breakfast with a side of sunrise and salty air, and waiting for the next port of call to rise from the horizon line will be common events in the life of Lindsay Clark, world traveler…soon to be world citizen.

Today was a near perfect day, and the Colts winning Super Bowl XLI was the cherry on top.

I Get Numb Thumbs for the Kids

Now the countdown is T minus 2 days until we get Allison buzzed and set her on the plane for the family vacation preceding the grand voyage (pronounced with a faux-french accent). New news...I make wonderful banana pancakes (Jack Johnson would be proud) for my daughters and my sicky bio-mama, I have developed a lovely case of excited insomnia, and I can sit down and make 40 beaded bracelets for little girls around the world in one day (Mom and I had a 10 hour TV marathon today, impressive I know). Yeah...I've been busy. I'm not even mentioning my anal-retentive hobby of documenting everything I pack down to a vitamin, a bobby pin, and the 200 Q-tips. I want future SASers to know EXACTLY what they need to bring in order to stop worrying about the little stuff (like packing) and prepare themselves for the big stuff (like insomnia or world travel). It's fun to type when you can't feel your fingers (deja vous of tying balloons in rush...ye-ouch).

I just want to say I miss people already. I'll never find myself singing "Ain't that America" on deck looking at the Malaysian sunset, but I sure will understand the sentiment when I miss the lovely charms of the Mid-west, B-town, and the Nap.

Please keep the e-mails coming...and chiefly include the most mundane activity of the week. That's the stuff of life.

...aaaand I'm sick again

Man, when the girls from Wabash get together, mayhem ensues. When the Colts go to the Super Bowl, I lose my voice but keep going.

But when I babysit for two kids that have me pulling my hair out, my body finally takes a beating. And now I am drinking my food through a straw while watching a Rocky marathon in my basement. Super.

The amount of time I'm spending on my packing list is astronomical. I should put these research skills on my resume. I have eight more days of this wonderful sitting and preparing before we head off on a family vacation...makes me want to soak up all the depressing Indiana atmosphere I can. Hopefully this is the last time I'm sick like this until at least late May because that would be my definition of a tragedy...bed ridden in Rio. I'm already missing my 90 roommates and that beautiful B-town landscape.

Here's to T minus 8 days.

By the way, Rocky just knocked out Clubber Lang.

T minus 21 Days

My days consist of checking the New York Times for any countries from my itinerary, watching previous SAS voyagers' videos on YouTube.com, researching trips and adventures online, and watching TV with my cat at night, soaking in the last morsels of home life before I sail away. There is no way to prepare myself for the multitude of experiences I am about to have, but in the meantime, it works to document every little finding and make the most detailed packing list a person can compile. All the most trivial points are highlighted when preparing for this trip, which oddly enough overshadow the incredible journey and the new perspective I will gain. Honestly, I am only "sort of" excited because no amount of travel plans or picture viewing can match the feeling I am going to get from standing next to a huge watercraft (even though they scare the be-jesus out of me) knowing the journey that is ahead of me.

Keeping in touch with all of you is going to be difficult, so I am going to utilize this website as a means to keep you informed. Hopefully, the upkeep of this blog and using the Internet won't be too hard, so expect documentation from each port of call unless I announce my incapability to do so. Each day of my voyage will be centered around capturing photo opportunities, whether the camera is Mom's D50 or my eye, so you can expect I will have thousands to show by day 100. However, I doubt even one picture will make it to the Internet before that final day approaches, seeing as each minute of Internet usage costs $.40 and moves at the speed of a barnacle. Don't pester me...you'll see pictures eventually. Mmkay?...ah, splendid.

16 days until the fam' departs for Nassau 21 days until Bon Voyage