Semester at Sea: Study Around the World

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About

Explore multiple countries around the world while earning up to 15 credits! Each voyage varies in it's destinations, but will definitely provide a wide range of cultures and countries to see. Check the SAS website for lists of past trips and plans for the future ones. Hope you have your sea legs ready!

Fall 2018 Semester Voyage

  • Dates: September 9, 2018 - December 23, 2018
  • 107 Days, 11 Countries, 13 Cities, 4 Continents

Destinations: Germany, Spain, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, China, Japan, (Hawaii) United States

Spring 2019 Semester Voyage

  • Dates: January 5, 2019 - April 19, 2019
  • 102 Days, 11 Countries, 15 Cities, 4 Continents

Destinations: (Hawaii) United States, Japan, China, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Germany

Fall 2019 Semester Voyage

  • Dates: September 9, 2019 - December 23, 2019
  • 106 Days, 11 Countries, 12 Cities, 4 Continents

Destinations: Poland, Kiel Canal Transit, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Morocco, Ghana, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama Canal Transit, Ecuador, Costa Rica, (California) United States

Questions & Answers

As long as you were enrolled as a full-time student the semester immediately before your voyage, and you have proof of admission to the university you are transferring to (such as an admission letter) after your voyage, then you should be all set!
One thing to add, gap year students can participate in SAS. It also never hurts to call them to check in with your situation and see what's available!
Yes there are options for people with specific dietary restrictions. I had a friend who had some and you just need to let them know before you begin (you can call the ISE/SAS office too). The chefs work with you to determine your needs. Since the ship picks up food along the way, they do their best to accommodate with what they have. Just know going into it that you may be eating a lot of the same...
All courses are taught in English. To help prepare you for in-port experiences, SAS will give you a cheat sheet of common phrases for the local language in each country. Additionally, sometimes brief language sessions are taught by visiting lecturers prior to arrival in each country.

Reviews

98%
based on 152 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 152
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Courtney
10/10

Once in a Lifetime

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.

Yes, I recommend
Melayna
10/10

A Transformational, Life-Changing Experience

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.

How can this program be improved?
Having more time on land versus at sea.
Yes, I recommend
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Peyton
10/10

Best 4 months of my life!!!

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.

Yes, I recommend
Jessica
9/10

Semester at Sea

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.

Yes, I recommend
Nikki
9/10

An unforgettable experience through 8 countries in 3 months aboard 1 ship

I chose Semester at Sea because I couldn't decide on just one location to study abroad and since I'd never traveled internationally before, this program provided the optimal blend of support, freedom and adventure. The price of the program was a bit more than others but they offer a ton of scholarships and even work-study options on the ship, plus the price includes 3 meals a day, weekly laundry service and 24/7 access on and off the ship whenever we were in port. Classes were only held when the ship was at sea, meaning whenever we were in port (usually 4 - 6 days each country) we didn't have class and were instead encouraged to make the world our classroom. The faculty were incredibly interesting and passionate about their field, many came from ivy league campuses, providing unique learning opportunities that other traditional study abroad programs can't offer. Prior to each port we were briefed on the in's and out's of the country, we talked about significant sociopolitical factors that may affect our experience, and provided with advice, reading, local tips and other resources for having a meaningful experience in each country. If I could give one piece of advice to future participants it would be to take ownership of your own experience, don't be afraid to take risks and do something that takes you outside of your comfort zone. It's easy to stick with a crowd of 600 other American students in every country, but the real ah-ha moments happen much further outside the confines of the SAS bubble. Find a friend or two and go on an adventure in every country, stay in hostels instead of on the ship, go hiking, meet people, use your broken language skills, smile, be patient, and stay positive.

How can this program be improved?
Be more transparent about pre-voyage costs and additional fees to register for required field programs. I remember it came as quite a shock that I had to pay almost $2500 out of pocket in pre-voyage costs, not including my flight.
Yes, I recommend
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Madison
10/10

Best semester ever

This program is totally unique and amazing! After going your life will change. You get to go to so many countries in a short amount of time. You will meet great new friends. It has a reputation of being all about partying. Some people are like that but most people aren’t. You probably won’t get a lot out of the classes, but my university gives students Pass/Fail grades for all study abroad credits. It is hard to pack for because you will go to very hot and very cold countries, but there are a lot of articles and YouTube videos about semester at sea and how to pack, etc.

How can this program be improved?
The professors are more interested in traveling than teaching
Yes, I recommend
Mariana
10/10

Morocco tour, Camel trekking in Sahara Desert during SAS

We were travelling as a group of four (all students) and we were all really excited for our desert trip during SAS, we used Morocco Excursions Company, but not quite sure what to expect. We did the four day trip from Marrakech to Fes and it was fantastic. I would highly recommend doing at least four days as we thought that covering the same distance in three days would be a bit too much driving each day.

In terms of reviewing the trip itself, it couldn't have been any better. The places we saw were absolutely breathtaking – the stunning ksar of Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate (the "Hollywood of Morocco"), the Erg Chebbi dunes, the Todra Gorge and many other amazing places. Morocco has such a diverse range of landscapes and we saw so many of them on the Morocco Excursions trip.

The best thing though was the places we stayed on the trip. Although we paid for the budget option, we were really impressed with the quality of accomodation. Our rooms were large and spacious and the breakfast/dinner provided was very good. The locations were incredible though. In Merzouga, we stayed right on the edge of the sand dunes, which was absolutely breathtaking. Whilst dunes are the stereotypical image of the Sahara, they are only found in two places in Morocco and to have them just two hundred metres from your hotel window was so unexpected and a really fantastic experience.

Our guide, Aziz, was friendly, funny and insightful. He was also an excellent driver and over four long days of driving we never once felt unsafe with his driving skills. He definitely made our trip better than it would otherwise have been and his helpfulness and local nous were much appreciate by us all. Likewise, Hassan was really responsive to all of our emails and was very helpful with any questions we had before the trip.

We had a fantastic experience with Morocco Excursions and couldn't recommend them more.

Yes, I recommend
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Amy
10/10

Semester at Sea Spring 2016 -- Wanna do it all over again.

How did I study on the ship?

The standard SAS course requirements include enrolling for 4 courses, of which one of them must a Global Lens course. The days spent at sea sailing between different countries are normal class days, alternating between Day A and B without breaks. Occasionally, designated “Study Days” are arranged before mid-terms, special activities and finals, providing students either with some downtime to relax or to catch up with schoolwork. This rigorous academic system allows students to complete all 12 credits by the end of the semester and their courses with the equal level of depth and class time compared to on-land campuses, if not more.

Additionally, each course is paired with a Field Lab (a field trip) in one specific country of the professor’s choosing to learn more about local customs. Afterwards, students are expected to put pen to paper a “Field Lab Report” to reflect on the day trip and in what ways did the Lab relate daily textbook concepts and class learnings to a country’s history and practices.

How do we study on a ship?

To much of my surprise, prior to my departure, I was informed by a 2012 SAS alumni from HKU that Wi-Fi is not available on board. The principal reason for internet restriction is due to SAS’s goal for students to pay greater attention to forming actual human nexuses rather than clinging onto distant, virtual friendships.

Nevertheless, to assist with on-ship and external communication, students are provided with email service (“Seamail”). Given Seamail only authorizes text messages and attachments, it had challenged students like myself to come up with ingenuous methods to stay connected to our families e.g. I attached pictures to Word documents and converted them to PDFs before sending it to my friends and family. Also, the academic platform of Moodle and a public drive were used extensively to turn in assignments, attempt quizzes and share information.

Extracurricular Activities

You may wonder: without internet access and other forms of entertainment, what were our pastimes for 4 months at sea? In fact, as aforementioned, studying had already taken up the majority of time and kept us occupied throughout the day. For the rest of the time, one could work out at the gym to maintain physical fitness, sunbathe or swim in the pool, host or participate in student clubs on board. Here are a few examples of what I did on board:



The Amazing China Cultural Club


Me and nine other Chinese students on board have co-founded “The Amazing China Cultural Club” to present the intriguing side of Chinese culture to foreign students, prepare them for the possible culture shock before visiting Shanghai and Hong Kong and teach them basic survival Chinese/Cantonese phrases.

Ballroom Dancing Club
Apart from hosting a student-directed club, I was also an active member of the Ballroom Dancing Club. 

Our student instructors have taught us the basics of four latin dances: Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba and Samba and Tango. As part of club showcase, we have performed a dance number during the Talent Show.

Places Visited: Favorite and Least Preferred Country

Students gathered at San Diego, CA to be bused over to board the ship at Ensenada, Mexico. We ventured out from the Americas, setting sail across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and finally, after the longest stretch of 18 days, the MV World Odyssey docked at Japan (Yokohama, Kobe).

From then on, we sailed through the waters of many Asian countries: (Shanghai) China, Hong Kong, (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam, (Yangon) Burma, (Cochin) India and to (Port Louis) Mauritius, a tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean.

For the third part, we continued with our journey up and around the African continent to (Cape Town) South Africa, (Takoradi, Tema) Ghana and (Casablanca) Morocco before disembarking at (Southampton) England, officially ending our around-the-world endeavor.

Favorite Country: South Africa

Cape Town (South Africa) was definitely one of the best ports of call I have visited. It was the epitome of both education and new experience. For my Gender and Society class, we got to visit the Blikkiesdorp Township just 30 minutes away from downtown. It was a place where we obtained extensive insight about HIV/AIDS, poverty and crime among the grass-root class as it was plagued with problems as such. This posed as a drastic contrast to the façade of Cape Town’s prosperity, especially when compared to what we have seen at the Waterfront area close to where we docked, a district that radiates a sense of establishment and affluence.



Apart from the knowledge (Apartheid and South Africa’s current development) that this country has to offer, it had also proved itself to be one diverse, thrilling and incredibly hospitable travel destination. To begin with, I have had the privilege to go on an phenomenal safari trip organized by SAS to meet “The Big Five”, skydive out of an airplane at an altitude of 9,000 ft., climbed 3,558 ft. back up the world-renowned Table Mountain and finally, got to sample some of South Africa’s native game meats such as ostrich, kudu (a type of antelope), Springbok (another type of antelope) and warthog (an African wild boar). 


Least Preferred Country: Ghana

Intriguingly, the other country that I would like to evaluate is also in Africa. Upon my first day arriving in Ghana, I could already sense the economic hardship this country is in from the highly prevalent occurrences of graft.

During our 4-hour drive to and from the Kakum National Park, we stopped at 6 police checkpoints. Every time, our driver would utter an excuse to shake the policemen’s hands and pay them 1 Cedi each time (about HKD$2). On the right shows a discrete snapshot I took of a Ghanaian policeman ordering our taxi driver to pull over before an instance of corruption took place.


The locals have given me such polarized impressions of this country. On one hand, we did receive a lot of warm welcomes and hospitality from students of the University of Ghana as well as from University of Cape Coast. They had magnanimously helped us navigate our way around the cities of Takoradi, Tema and the capital of Accra and provided much valuable information useful in completing our academic research papers.


Yet, on our Field Lab with Introduction to Social Psychology at the Oxford Street Market, unfortunately, most female participants, including myself, had experienced some of the worst cases of sexual harassment over the course of this voyage, usually directed from local street vendors. For me, I was verbally harassed by stall holders as I was about to get on the bus and depart for our ship. It is very commendable that our course instructor, Mikki had tried her very best in shielding us from the vendors’ distasteful comments and unprovoked aggression during the Field Lab and took quick precautions such as swiftly reporting the incidents to the SAS administration and relocated the Lab to a different venue the next day. 


Difficulties and Special Moments

SAS as a sobering and enthralling experience certainly did not occur with ease for me. One cannot believe the mounting pressure the program bestow upon you as there was so many items and so much detail to esteem for such as financial considerations, health and safety, packing and constantly overcoming the obstacles that preparation throws in your way.

As a case in point, the application for visas was indeed a very close call pushing all time limits and effort. As a Hong Kong citizen, I have to complete 3 entry visas and among them, the one for Ghana deemed the most vexing. Since Hong Kong no longer has a Ghana Consulate that process visas for visitors, I had to make contact with the Ghana Embassy in Beijing that redirected me to an honorary consular in Hong Kong. The official gave me his word the visa would be completed in two weeks’ time but it ended up taking three working weeks before I rushed over to collect it in one afternoon and with only 10 minutes left on the clock, dashed off from one end of Wanchai to another towards the India Consulate to apply for the remaining visa.

It is indescribable how relieved I was when I finally made it to the India Consulate out of breath, profusely perspiring, with precisely 2 minutes to spare but finally filed all documents in just in time. Nevertheless, I have heard visa stories from my fellow shipmates that completely humbled me: Chinese students were required to apply for 7 visas and even more ludicrous; for Lebanese students, a jaw-dropping number of 10.

Bracing Ourselves for Finals


If you think SAS is an extravagant 102-day lavish vacation around the world with sumptuous food, free-flowing wine and pleasure in all of its forms, you cannot be any more mistaken. As the voyage drew to a close, during the last 2 weeks before the final exams, I had lived a dreaded routine of passing out from exhaustion at 1am and springing back to life at 7am the next morning, meanwhile spending the rest of my waking hours studying, writing and revising. But I am fortunate to say that I have a group of friends that worked hard together with me every day at the Berlin Restaurant to leap over whatever hurdles that came in our way.

How to make use of this experience?

Why should one take part in this costly undertaking? My response to that is: it is a life-changing process that helps to define yourself. Not only does SAS nurture independence more so than any other exchanges as it encourages its students to travel independently in so many different countries. But it also fosters incomparable problem-solving capabilities in due course by allowing them to handling unfamiliar situations e.g. itinerary planning, locating transport and dealing with the most unexpected predicaments one might encounter in entirely foreign cultural backdrops.
The most pivotal calibers that I have sharpened throughout this journey are open-mindedness and adaptability. SAS had trained us prolifically with observing, experiencing, accepting and finally adapting to various cultural differences around the world. These alone, I believe, are traits that will continue to serve me well whatever settings I find myself in in the future.

Yes, I recommend
Abram
10/10

INCREDIBLE but not always easy.

I have four journals filled with unique stories: praying with a MYANMAR monk, a monkey stealing my dinner in ZIMBABWE, a karaoke battle with locals in MOROCCO, taking an exam while in a PACIFIC storm with 30 foot waves, and I could go on. Semester at Sea is, without a doubt, the ultimate travel experience.

It wasn't always easy. In Myanmar, while walking through valley of 10,000 temples, we stumbled on a factory that utilized child labor. They graciously invited us in and I watched 20 young girls sit around in a room where they worked dawn to dusk, 7 days a week, 365 days a year so that their families could have enough meager food to live. Only a few weeks later I met a Ghanaian school teacher on the street who proudly told me of an ex pupil who was graduating University.

A trip around the world shows you the world and the world is incredible and beautiful and rich but it needs our help. You will not be the same after Semester at Sea. You will be traveled, you will be informed, and you will be more than you were before.

Yes, I recommend
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Pakinam
9/10

A voyage of a life time

Semester at sea made me sea the world from different perspectives. Comparing and contrasting the different places we visit every week added a lot to my experience and my knowledge about the world. It broke many of my stereotypes and I can't tell how grateful I am to have been part of the Fall 2015 voyage. Being isolated from the world yet travelling the world is a magical feeling and has been very crucial to teaching me about myself and my shipmates. I highly recommend it.

Yes, I recommend
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Brittany
10/10

My Most Influential Experience

Sailing on a Semester at Sea voyage was the most influential experience of my life. I visited places I only read about, met life-long friends, and gained a global prospective.

Visiting multiple places in one semester and comparing each to each other and to my own county is a very effective learning technique. We were constantly moving, exploring, and discovering new things everyday. Living on a ship and being part of the shipboard community was my favorite part of the entire experience. Eating with a professor and their family is not uncommon and actually encouraged. Everyone on the ship has the desire and passion to learn about the world through experimental learning. I would learn about the Egyptian history in class and the next day, I was at The Pyramids of Giza and looking at the face of The Sphinx.

Most people sign up for a study abroad program to see new places, experience a different culture, or to eat better food - afterwards they realize the most valuable part is the people you meet along the way. For the first time I felt like I found my "tribe". When you travel and live on a relatively small space with a group of people, you become extremely close quickly. It's been almost 6 years since I've sailed and I still consider my Semester at Sea group of friends my best friends.

Overall, Semester at Sea is a way to see a lot of the world in one semester. If you're not sure which country to pick, why choose? With Semester at Sea you can see many countries and be a part of a thriving shipboard community. Be prepared to return with a whole new outlook of the world and an incredible group of people you will call family.

How can this program be improved?
The program could benefit from providing resources and support after the students disembark. The experience is so powerful and life-changing, I know I would have appreciated a place where I could connect with past alumni or be more informed about opportunities to connect with my local alumni chapter.
Yes, I recommend
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Tony
10/10

World Traveler

Imagine traveling the world with newfound friends on a ship sailing around the world. This is by far the most significant and eye-opening experience of the world. Semester at Sea takes you to legendary cities around the world; St. Petersburg, Paris, DUBLIN, Havana, Casablanca, with the ease of sailing. When stopped at port the students are allowed to travel to anywhere they wish; provided that they have the means and logistics to make it back to the ship. What is unique is that Semester at Sea provides teaching and college courses on the ship itself. Complete with overhead projectors this ship is a floating classroom lead by the most prostegious faculty members worldwide. The staff is very friendly and welcoming. They are going through the same experience as the students; traveling the world!

The nights spent lying on the beach at night looking at thousands of stars on the sands of Lagos, Portugal with friends and camel trek riding through the Sahara desert to meet the Nomads will forever remain the most amazing experience of my life. Semester at Sea provides many avenues for scholarships. They themselves help you out A LOT. As long as they see that you are serious and willing to put in work, they will do their best to provide you with the funds to achieve this dream to travel the world.

How can this program be improved?
The food! My goodness everything was carbs carbs carbs. Pasta is the staple subsidy for us college students and will be disgusted after a month of eating it. Nonetheless the food is always fresh; just wish there's more variety. A small price to pay to see the world.
Yes, I recommend
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Emma
10/10

Semester at Sea Sp '15

SAS gave me ability to go to countries I never thought I would reach, and helped me determine who I want to be as a traveler and global citizen. It taught me how to be culturally sensitive, not only for places that are unfamiliar, but also for the place I call home. I was able to form friendships with people that were different from me in many ways, and create a bond I didn't realize could exist in only four months. Plus the wide range of emotions from the laughter to the tears resulted in the most growth I have experienced in my 5 semesters of college.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing that would be better was if it was a whole year!
Yes, I recommend
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Kimberly
10/10

Semester at Sea is the best decision you'll ever make

Just do it. Four months on a ship that goes around the world?! When else will you have a chance to do something so cool? Every day is something new and exciting! You get the chance to meet people from all over the U.S. and all over the world. The professors teach super interesting courses in a wealth of different subject areas. The food is terrible (or was when I did it), but bring food with you and buy stuff in ports and you'll be fine. Go on as many excursions as possible, as they often get you further away from the port then would be feasible on your own. They can also help you get visas to secondary countries, because you can't leave the country on your own- you must be on an excursion.

Yes, I recommend
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Heather
10/10

Most Amazing Experience of My Life

I would recommend this program to any individual that has a passion to travel and see the world. The experiences I had on Semester at Sea opened my eyes to the possibilities that life has to offer as well as gave me insight into new cultures. This program also challenged me to step out of comfort zone and explore places I have never even heard of. I made the most amazing, lifelong friends on my voyage and loved every second of my time on the MV Explorer.

Yes, I recommend

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About Semester at Sea

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...