Semester at Sea Study Abroad Programs, Reviews, and Interviews

Semester at Sea

About

Semester at Sea began at Chapman University in the 60s, but the program was called “University of the Seven Seas.” On that first voyage, 275 students set sail for 22 ports around the world aboard the MS Seven Seas to begin a tradition of shipboard education that continues to this day. We've had many people take the lead over over the years - Bill Hughes, C.Y. Tung, Dr. M.A. Griffiths to name a few, although there have been many amazing people that have helped keep our program "afloat!" Colorado State University is our Academic Partner as we sail around the world on our floating campus, the MV World Odyssey!

Founded
1963
Headquarters

Colorado State University
Campus Delivery 1587
Fort Collins, CO 80523
United States

Scholarships

Semester at Sea Scholarships
Semester at Sea Scholarships & Financial Aid

We at Semester at Sea are committed to our students and understand the financial burdens placed on students to earn the best education possible. This is why Semester at Sea awards $5 million in scholarships and grants annually.

Value
$500 - $10,000

Reviews

Adam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

As the Director of Global Routes, an innovative high school and college abroad program in it's own right, facilitating profound international experiences, I can honestly say I would not be here without my own transformative experience on Semester at Sea. I can not say enough.

In 2002, I walked onto a ship in Vancouver as a typical fun-loving college boy, and stepped off in Florida, 100 days later with a deep understanding of empathy, compassion, global issues, and my role in the world. I went on to pursue a career as a global educator,

The faculty were outstanding. The community was extraordinary, and the fine level of support and freedom in-port was out of this world. If you're reading this, and considering a semester in England, or Spain, or France, or New Zealand, change your plans and jump on board SAS for a rich tapestry experience that will forever alter your perspective of the world and your place in it.

What would you improve about this program?
Not a single thing! The journey is the destination.
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Courtney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

As soon as I heard of Semester at Sea, I knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. My voyage had the opportunity to visit 11 countries while taking classes on the MV World Odyssey; who else can say they have done that? There was lots of work leading up to it, and of course I had my doubts that it would live up to my dreams. But it did that and more! The community on the ship is one that you cannot experience with any other program. This is absolutely the best way for college students to study abroad.
My advice to anyone considering Semester at Sea: DO IT. Do not think too much about it, just go and everything will work itself out, and most importantly: you will have the trip of a lifetime.

Melayna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Semester at Sea takes you to 11 countries and 4 continents, giving cultural immersion, a new global perspective, and a truly global comparative experience. For me, it was absolutely life changing. I learned more in one semester about myself and the world than I ever had in my life. It is true hands-on, experience-based learning. It isn't simply studying from a textbook and then forgetting everything a month later. All my SAS experiences will stay with me forever.

SAS taught me that there is so much that we don't know about the world. There is so much left to learn. Other study abroad programs make you come home and say "that was fun," but Semester at Sea makes you say "What's next? How can I change the world for the better?" You truly leave inspired.

If you are looking for a study abroad program to challenge your views and expose you to the unknown, do Semester at Sea. Learn what the US education system doesn’t teach us. See the things the US media doesn't report on. Do rather than just see. Connect with the cultures you interact with across the globe and begin to understand how we fit into this large world.

My hope is that more students will look into Semester at Sea. For me, I decided to seize the opportunity, knowing once I graduate and begin work, I may not have this opportunity again. A lot of people’s dreams to see the world, and Semester at Sea makes it possible.

What would you improve about this program?
Having more time on land versus at sea.
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Peyton
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Semester at sea was BY FAR the best semester I have ever had! Meeting 600 students can be a little overwhelming but you quickly find your friends and hang out with everyone! We were able to experience so many different parts of the world and all with your new best friends! To be completely honest, you will have some of the worst experiences but also some of the best. I made friends that will last a lifetime and came back with some crazy stories to tell.

Jessica
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I absolutely loved my time on Semester at Sea. It is a great way to see the world in such a short time frame. I have met and made friends with people from all over the world. I highly recommend this program to anyone that is remotely interested in studying abroad. This program does a great job of ensuring everyone's safety and making sure students feel prepared to enter each of the countries on the itinerary.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Robin Allen

Dr. Robin Allen is a small animal veterinarian from St .Charles IL. She currently lives in Houston, Tx. She attended Northern Illinois University as an undergraduate student. She studied veterinary medicine at St. Matthew's University in the Cayman Islands and completed a year of medical and surgical training at the University of Illinois. Additionally, she has earned an M.B.A from Davenport University. She traveled on Semester at Sea in Fall 2002.
Female Headshot

Why did you decide to go abroad with your provider?

My interest to travel to Asia was sparked by a course in World Religions. I learned so much about the Ganges River and Varanasi, Shinto shrines, and Buddhist temples that I wanted to see them for myself.

The idea of being able to take a course entitled world religious architecture really grabbed my attention because it was so rooted in the cultures we were going to be exposed to. My family wasn't one for taking trips to countries on the other side of the world. It was a big deal for me to even consider doing something like this.

I didn't want to live with a family abroad and wanted to have my own space / room. One day I saw a flyer outside of my art history class room and knew it was the right program for me. After I researched more about Semester at Sea, there was no way I was going on any other study program.

It gave me the opportunity to see multiple countries on multiple continents. I was able to travel to Japan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, and Cuba. By traveling on a ship and experiencing multiple countries in a short time you can really compare how people live and their cultures around the world. Besides... how cool is it to say you sailed around the world?

If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?

I wish that I would have been more prepared for what I was going to see and witness. I think my experience would have been more meaningful. The program sends you a list of books that are based in each country you are going to visit. I read a few but I wish I would have read at least one involving each country I was going to visit.

I read Catfish and Mandala prior to visiting Vietnam. It is a true story about a young man whose family immigrated to the United States during the post Vietnam War Era. He decided to travel back to Vietnam and explore the country on bike. There are great descriptions about all the sights and smells on his journey. In some ways it prepared me for what I was going to see there.

What is one piece of advice you'd give future students traveling with your program?

Make sure to try everything. Do EVERYTHING. You don't want to look back on your experience and say that you were too scared to journey on your own, you spent all day in your cabin, or you didn't want to spend the extra money to travel to the Great Wall of China. When will you have the opportunity to do these things again? When will you have the opportunity to do these things again while surrounded by a group of friends.

Don't spend the entire time sitting in your room while at sea. Sit on the deck and listen to the waves. Go on shore trips where you have the opportunity to meet students in those countries. Spend time eating lunch with your instructors. It makes the program more valuable if you fully participate and emerge yourself in the ship's community.

Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?

I thought that language was going to be a huge barrier in each country. Surprisingly there were many people in each country who spoke English. We didn't have a hard time getting around on our own or finding someone to chat with or give directions.

How has this experience impacted your future?

I think this experience impacts everyone differently. For me I was impacted the most by really getting a sense that a lot of the danger we believe is out there in the world is heavily impacted by the media.

I met people in each country that were just the same as people from home. I ate at restaurants that were just as great as the ones I had been to in Chicago. Hotels that we stayed at on field excursions were extravagant at times. I was also surprised by the number of expats living abroad that we would run into. It made me realize that we are really in a bubble in the United States.

After this trip, I lived abroad in the Caribbean for 3 years. I couldn't imagine living in only one country for the rest of my life. I have other friends from my semester that moved to England, Aruba, Netherlands, India, Mexico, etc. This trip really changes how you see the world and for many of us where we want to live and what we want to do.

Some really great charities have been created after semester at sea studies. An alum from my semester created The Cook Book Project to bring education about food and its role in health to people around the world.

Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.

There were people in India that were excited to see my friends and I because we had light hair and light eyes. They have never seen someone with these characteristics before.

My friends and I were stopped several times at the Taj Mahal by families wanted a picture with us. It happened in China as well. This experience demonstrated that people are watching you and you are a representation of the U.S. when you are traveling.

The locals were often surprised that you wanted to eat indigenous food and not Pizza Hut. By the way... McDonald's does not taste the same in South Africa or China. It's fun to take a peak at things like that.

What made this experience unique and special?

There are so many things that make this experience special. Sailing around the world on a ship is pretty incredible. I would wake up "early" before the other passengers every morning and go sit out on the deck. There's a peace and quiet about the ocean that you can't recreate. It is one of the things I miss the most.

I didn't feel that way at first of course. I was sea sick like many other students. We were nauseous for the first week or so but the seas were a little rough between Vancouver and Japan. Oh and CUBA!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Karla Correll

Job Title
Assistant Director of Admission
Karla sailed on Semester at Sea Summer 2010 as a student for University of Colorado - Boulder. In 2012, she started in admissions at the Institute for Shipboard Education.
girl on a ship at sunset

What is your favorite travel memory?

How do you pick a favorite travel memory???

I have endless stories that I could talk about for days, but I will never forget a homestay in Turkey, where the family I stayed with opened their home to me and taught me all about their lives, customs, and culture. The mother in the house was just learning English and we sat over long dinners telling stories of our lives, families, and travels and we would pause every once in awhile to ask her son to translate a few words for each other. It was an amazing experience that I truly felt I was part of someone's life on the other side of the world from me and is something I will never forget.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I don't believe in overrated or underrated countries purely because everyone sees places differently, but I do believe that what you put into it is what you get out if it. If you just look at the surface of a country and don't get to know the history, or the culture, or the geography, you are missing out on a huge part of the place you are seeing. Some of the places I enjoyed traveling to the most were the countries I least expected and really had amazing histories, cultures, and friendly people.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Passion and deep institutional knowledge are the biggest factors in the success of Semester at Sea. Most, if not all, of the ISE/Semester at Sea staff are alumni of the program and know how life changing it can be and that passion is put in each day they work there.

Each and every employee believes in the program and the mission of Semester at Sea, and that ships can carry more than cargo, they can carry ideas. They believe that for over 50 years, Semester at Sea has taught students that the world is their classroom and helped students turn into global citizens.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

At any job, just like any opportunity, you have the ability to get out as much as you put in. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by hard working people that encourage going above and beyond and allowing for creative and new solutions. With the world changing and technology improving every day, it creates unique challenges, but also great opportunities to get more done from other locations or change something to work more efficiently. With easier and faster access to all corners of the world, the opportunities are endless.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Semester at Sea is unique in so many ways, but the employees unwavering passion and dedication to the program are unique to any other company I have ever seen. The ability to travel to the ship for embarkation and disembarkation is also very unique. Many companies you do not get to meet their students or customers.

With Semester at Sea, you get to work with the students from admission, preparation, watch them succeed on the voyage, and see them hold their head high as they walk off the ship at the end of a life changing semester. There is nothing more rewarding than that.

More Interviews

Professional Associations

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