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Semester at Sea: Combine Academics with a Round-the-World Cruise

Semester at Sea Hair Cut
A resident adviser on the ship gets her head shaved while a crowd of onlookers gather. The act of shaving one’s head dates back to sailors who considered crossing the equator a rite of passage.

After 24,036 miles, 10 countries, and three continents, I arrived back in the U.S. I had just traveled around the world for 100 days on the academic program known as Semester at Sea.

I received 12 credits while sailing on a ship to countries including Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Burma, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, and Japan. Half my time was spent experiencing the cultures and customs; the other half was spent studying for courses including: Conservation Biology, Field Methods, and Global Studies. While on board the ship, we attended 12 credits’ worth of class, which are accredited through the Univ. of Virginia. These classes ran the gamut of subjects.

The ship was grand to say the least. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling and plush red chairs were in the lounge. Once a floating casino, this ship was now my floating campus. Equipped with a computer lab, library, pool, and even a spa—there was nothing else a student could have asked for.

Evenings on the ship offered many options, from pub nights and themed parties to film nights, when we would watch movies related to the countries we would be visiting. Faculty, staff, and students conducted lectures on topics ranging from the Peace Corps, to what to wear in India, to how to take better photos.

The stint of being onboard between countries would last anywhere from just a few days to a week. Once docked, classes were put on hold and the 683 college students on board were free to explore the country. Students were given the opportunity to pay for prearranged side trips such as volunteering at an orphanage in Caracas, staying with a host family in Chennai, or trekking up the Great Wall in Beijing. Toward the end of the trip, however, many students opted to experience each country at their own pace. While on Semester at Sea the cultural differences that separated us from the unknown countries around the world began to disintegrate.

Children in Khayelitsha, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, enjoy their afternoon interacting with Semester at Sea students.

For More Info

Semester at Sea ( See website for costs.

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