When I was in college, I traveled around the world on a ship, through a program called Semester At Sea.
The ship departed from Vancouver, Canada in early September, then sailed across some very rough water to Kobe, Japan. My main memory of that long, long two weeks on the stormy ocean was being incredibly seasick and lying on the deck, unable to move or think. I was surrounded by most of the other students on board. We couldn’t believe how sick we felt, and we were too sick to talk about it, so we just lay next to each other, moaning.
After that, the rest was amazing. We went to Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Eygpt, Ukraine, Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Spain, then sailed back to Florida, just in time for Christmas. It’s surreal to be on a voyage of that length.
We were learning as we went. We took classes on board the ship while we were at sea, then went into the countries to experience them in real life.
To pay the gigantic cost, I got a scholarship plus a work-study job onboard (I worked in the bookstore). This meant that I spent a lot of hours working during the time we were at sea. It felt like a worthy exchange.
However, at the time, I was kind of shy, and really self-conscious, and I didn’t have a lot of money, so I didn’t really fit in with most of the people on board the ship and didn’t have the same resources for traveling. So I traveled by myself. It got a little lonely, but I’m so glad I did it.
When I look back on the time I spent on Semester At Sea, I realize that it was one of the main things that shaped who I am; not just as a traveler, but as a person.
Recently I had the thought that this might be the most memorable trip of my life…unless I start planning something even more amazing. I have no idea what that could be.
Ideas? What have your most memorable trips been? I’d love to hear!