Alumni Spotlight: Douglas W. Johnson

I spent 107 days on World Campus Afloat, Spring 1975 voyage. Departing from Fort Lauderdale, ending in Los Angeles. Went to Morocco, Ivory Coast, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

A now retired Environmental Scientist, spent 45 years cleaning up oil spills, Superfund sites, hazardous waste sites, household hazardous waste from during post-hurricane, flood and fire events.


Why did you choose this program?

I wanted to travel outside the United States while in college. World Campus Afloat (WCA), now Semester at Sea gave me the opportunity to visit 12 different countries in 4 months while attending school.

It gave me an opportunity to look and experience numerous different cultures, religions and people while completing some of the hardest course work I had as an undergraduate.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

In 1975, WCA was academically sponsored by Chapman College (now University). It was considered an intra-school transfer from the "home" campus to WCA and back.

I was a political science and geology double major student at the time. This voyage provided direct insight and experiences in both my academic studies areas.

Chapman College didn't give me any direct assistance, it was up to me to request the transfer, maintain my grades and to complete the requirements of the program.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

You will be overwhelmed with new sights, smells, cultures, religions, and people. Write a daily journal, it will help you process what you experienced and understand the intangible gifts that you receive from participating in this opportunity.

Take Frisbees, balloons, and hard candy, the local little kids you will meet will be a lot of entertainment.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

While on board the ship, classes everyday with the exception of an occasional Sunday off. While in port, no classes but expect to participate in In-Port Practicas. I averaged one to two per port. They are part of the learning experience. You are required to take 12 to 16 units. I took 14.5. Three classes every day with the 4th class every other day. Then you spend another three to four hours everyday and on Sunday's studying and writing.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had no "fears", but lots of apprehensions. Simply put, this was the first time I was totally responsible for my actions. There was no parachute to rescue me if I screwed up. When traveling with girls, I took on the added responsibility of looking out for someone else. It is is safe to say I grew up a lot during these four months. You can say this was a coming of age experience. Also, crammed into a ship with 600 other people you mostly just met is a learning experience in patience, respect, adapting. If you couldn't learn these three things in the first couple of days of a hundred plus day voyage, you were pretty much left out.

Write and answer your own question.

Rule one, keep all your senses in max absorption mode. You will see, smell, hear, and feel many new things. Show respect for those with different beliefs, customs, religions, and cultures. Don't be selfish. But most of all; be respectful.

Also, if you think this is a 4 month party, Don't waste your time and money and more over, don't become a burden or distraction on those that are truly trying to learn something to make a difference in themselves and hopefully others.

I would have gladly seen those that thought the four months as a floating party would have been left somewhere, mostly from the first port of departure.

I would do this again in a heart beat too. It is on my bucket list to redo.