By studying abroad, students have the opportunity to study in a foreign nation and interact with people from all different cultures and walks of life. If you ask any individual who has ever studied abroad they will almost always say that it was by far one of the best decisions they have ever made. For many it is a once in a lifetime experience to learn and travel in a foreign country such as in Spain, Costa Rica, or Italy. Yet, there are not very many study abroad programs available that allow students to learn in a variety of different countries all in one semester abroad.
However, there is one lesser known but reputable study abroad program that says to give students “the most valuable college semester” of their life by allowing students to travel to not just one destination but all across the country in just one single semester. This organization is called Semester at Sea which is administered by The Institute for Shipboard Education in conjunction with the University of Virginia which offers transferrable college credit through their study abroad program.
Semester at Sea allows students to gain global experiences on faculty-led trips throughout 4 continents that total 10-12 destinations all in one semesters time. The semester is approximately 100 days and along the journey students learn and live on a 7 deck, 590-foot ship that allows for exploration of each destination upon each arrival.
The ship is designed to be much like that of a regular college campus. It is equipped with classrooms, cabins for student boarding, a student union and library. Other amenities include a fitness center, pool and outdoor dining area.
The faculty members that comprise the Semester at Sea ship are a wide variety of nobel prize winners, world leaders and speakers from TED talks. Each are chosen from colleges and universities throughout the United States and around the world.
Students attend classes while at sea in a variety of subjects and disciplines. Humanities classes are mainly taken because they typically tend to connect with one or more of the countries on the Semester at Sea itinerary. Upon arriving at certain port locations, special guest speakers, ranging from community leaders to American ambassadors, give lectures to the students and faculty members.
A few of the notable lecturers and guests that have been apart of Semester at Sea over its history are Nelson Mandela (First President of South Africa), Mother Teresa (Nobel Prize winner), and Fidel Castro (Cuban President).
Many of the alumni of the Semester at Sea program have also grown to become very successful individuals themselves including fashion designer Tory Burch, film and television producer Gary Foster and actress Cynthia Nixon.
Being able to take college classes and participate in extracurricular activities all while sailing the world on a cruise ship is an opportunity many students across the country do not even know exists for them. If you have ever dreamed of living a life similar to that of Zack and Cody on the hit television show Suite Life On Deck this could be your once in a lifetime opportunity to do so.
If you are worried about the cost of study abroad travel semesteratsea.org states that their program “dollar for dollar, it’s the highest impact, most valuable study abroad choice available in terms of miles traveled, countries experienced, and cultures explored.” The program does have financial aid opportunities available for students through the Institute for Shipboard Education. They grant more than $4 million each academic year in scholarships. Both need and merit based assistance is available for those interested in applying for a Semester at Sea.
An upcoming trip scheduled for Spring 2016 includes destinations of Japan, Vietnam, Morocco, London and many other countries. semesteratsea.org maps out other planned study abroad trips for the next few years and provides information for the application process. Students are eligible for admittance on a rolling admission basis.