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 148 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 16 - 30 of 148
Lindsay
10/10

Semester At Sea: Exceptionally Unique

Semester at Sea really was an exceptionally unique experience. I was convinced that if I didn't study abroad in college I would be missing out on a huge opportunity, but I was having difficulty deciding on just one country to go to. I was initially attracted to the idea that Semester at Sea traveled to multiple countries but that was just the beginning of its uniqueness. I found a "home afloat" in my ship accommodations which gave me a comfortable home base to decompress and familiarity that became so important to my mental health among all the new locations and culture shock. Semester at Sea took its time in picking the best of the best staff and faculty, so my education came from people I would normally not of had the opportunity to learn from. An overall theme of sustainability gave us a global lens to view all our lessons and experiences through, and something very applicable to take home and unique to put on my resume. Finally the in-country excursions set up by the program were absolutely once in a life time experiences I wouldn't find anywhere else, such as canyoning through the mountains in Spain, seal watching on rib boats in Sweden, and kayaking through the Fjords in Norway. If you are on the fence about doing this program I hope my review has convinced you to go. This is something you don't want to miss out on.

How can this program be improved?
I was very saddened to hear that Semester at Sea is no longer offering Summer semesters. The summer semester was so appealing to me because I had obligations at home that couldn't be left for longer than the two and half months I was gone for. The summer semester was also a more affordable option than the spring or fall semester which was also very appealing because this program is certainly on the pricey side. I didn't have my parents to help me with finances, I had a job that was important to hold on to, and a family that I had already built a home with so the summer semester was my only realistic option. Bring back the summer semester SAS!
Yes, I recommend
Kaiulani
10/10

My Family in India

I met so many beautiful people in India. One of those people was my tuk tuk driver. He made me and my friends feel comfortable and safe from the moment we went into his tuk tuk and who knew we would end up such great friends. He took us anywhere we wanted. We went to shops where we bought spices and a sari. After I bought my sari and went to another shop he told us he would be right back and when he came back he had a string of jasmine flowers that he put in my hair making me look like a beautiful Indian princess. I loved it, at that moment he felt like my father and although I come from somewhere on the other side of the world we had a connection and I trusted him. After I bought and immediately wore my sari we went to get some local Indian food. At this restaurant the waiters helped us order the foods we must try not he menu and we did. While we waited for our food I looked up and noticed an older Indian woman looking at me and smiling. I smiled back and she pointed to her sari and then at mine and gave me a thumbs up gesture. This was another amazing moment for me. This older Indian woman just approved my Indian outfit which meant more to me than just looking good. I felt that with her approval I was culturally acceptable and didn’t look like a tourist wearing an Indian outfit because it was cool. I was falling in love with India, the people, the culture, and soon enough the food. When the food came I was awestruck. It was amazing! So amazing that we ordered another plate of it. It was some type of masala but it was so different than the ones in the United States. After eating our driver asked us if we wanted henna tattoos and when we said yes he explained to us about his mother in laws where they can do it for us. This day was getting better and better. We got to the house and immediately neighborhood children and aunties came over. They were so nice and reminded me of my family back home. They wanted to make my hair, give me chips, and tea. It was one of the most memorable moments for me. We sat down and they started doing henna’s on us. While they did henna’s they were talking and asking us questions all while laughing because most of the time we had no idea what they were saying. Although there was a language barrier our body language and laughter was more than sufficient. We stayed there until the sun was going down. We had so much fun that they invited us to a Hindu celebration in Kerala where there would be food, elephants, music, and fireworks. That was an automatic yes! Our driver took us back to the ship where we showered and got ready then came back out and went with our driver to the event. It was a unique experience. We were the only people not from India at that event especially because most of the Semester At Sea students were at the Taj Mah Hall. As we walked through the crowds with our driver all eyes were on us. It was different but I knew our driver had our backs and he reminded me so much hot my father that I knew if anything would happen he would step in. It was amazing. We watched the elephants all dressed up march through the area with loud music, It was so exciting to witness for the first time. After we met up with his family and watched the fireworks together. I loved being with this family. We loved them so much that we pretty much went with the same driver everyday where we went to his families house about 2 more times. I am so thankful that I met a wonderful tuk tuk driver who I built a relationship with. He was more than our driver he was our father, bodyguard, and friend. After the last day in India when we had to say our goodbyes I got his mailing address and I am currently working on a package to send to him and his family with toys for his kids, books, and pictures of our time in India. One day I will make it back to India and reunite with this amazing family.

How can this program be improved?
It should be longer.
Yes, I recommend
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John
10/10

Life-changing Experience

Semester at Sea was by far the best experience of my life thus far. It's been over a year and a half since I embarked on my Summer voyage, but I still bother my friends and family with stories and allusions back to the trip. Honestly, I don't even know where to begin the praise. Instead of telling any specific story that won't fully capture my experience I will describe what I was thinking the day I arrived back in the US after the voyage: I wasn't sure how I could acclimate back to my normal life after experiencing so much in such a small amount of time. I came out of the trip with friends from not just all over the country, but also the world. I learned more in those 66 days then I ever could have expected. Not only were my classes intellectually stimulating and fun, but I also got to apply what I was learning to the countries I was visiting. Whether I was discussing the possibility of Scotland voting for its independence with locals at a highland festival and writing about it in my Economics of the European Union class or learning how to start and run a franchise from the head of franchising for all of the Hard Rock Cafes in Scandanavia. I learned how to travel in a smarter, cheaper and safer way. Lastly, I never stopped having fun. I got to surf in San Sebastian, eat dinner elevated above all of Helsinki, Finland with Dinner in the Sky, watch the US play Portugal in the World Cup while in Lisbon, and sit on the edge of massive cliffs on Aran Island off of Ireland (to name a few of my favorite memories). All in all it was the trip of my life and I will forever recommend the trip to anyone interested.

How can this program be improved?
The food could have been better on the ship, but food can only be but so good for college kids on a massive ship (so I don't really have a problem with it).
Yes, I recommend
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Jackson
10/10

Traveling Big and Small

There is something to be said for having almost 700 other travel mates. Semester at Sea gave me the opportunity to find any one to travel with, or no one. Being in port, surrounded by a foreign country there was a safety net of a community around us. I could always find a fellow SAS-er if I needed to. One time in Vietnam I had found myself on an island get away in ha long bay, which turned out to be an Aussie filled booze cruise of havoc. Not my scene. I had to leave early the next morning to catch my flight so with less than 50 dollars worth of Vietnamese dong I had to find my way, 5 hours from Ha long bay to Hanoi. Along the way I would face hard ships, like that one cab driver that almost assaulted me, but when ever it was most needed a familiar face from the ship would pop out of no where and bring a deep sigh of relief to me. I am grateful for the experiences I could have while traveling to such a diverse number of ports, but also the people I met along the way. Semester at Sea aloud me to have all of the self discovery, independence and adventure that comes with solo travel but also the connectedness and community of our ship.

How can this program be improved?
The ship did have its issues. Some issues that we faced are facing many land colleges campuses as well. A sweeping wave of uber political correctness and extremely hostile anger towards proclaimed dominate cultures. I my self being a white male felt there was a lot of anger towards me strictly for being a white male. The staff did little to address this and even stoked the flames of this anger with inappropriate rhetoric. Also the staff at times took their rolls too liberally and scandals, such as having our Dean sleep with the married wife of a professor, did not contribute to a healthy and trustworthy environment.
Yes, I recommend
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Victor
8/10

A Semester of Sea and making the most out of that Semester

To speak frankly, this was not my most influential or most rewarding experience abroad. That is not to say that I did not benefit from this or did not learn a lot. I am the kind of person that prefers to be immersed in one place as opposed to sampling several different countries in a whirlwind kind of fashion. Three to seven days is not nearly enough time to get to understand a place, a culture, to get used to hearing a foreign language, or to accustom oneself to the cadence of a different place in the world. As a result, I made sure that I made the most of my time in each country. I still made my best efforts to meet locals, to see as much as I can, and to use my senses to get a general idea of a new place. I was touched by the numerous encounters I had with hospitable locals in various countries of the world, I just wish I could have stayed in one spot to return the favor or to delve deeper into understanding where they are from and who they are. That was my experience with Semester at Sea.

No, I don't recommend
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Isaiah
10/10

SAS Sets a Course for Global Citizenship

Deciding to sail with Semester at Sea as a junior in college was one of the most important decisions of my life. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to study abroad on a global scale.

The experience of SAS is cyclical yet it also has forward momentum. Several days at sea will be followed by 4-5 days in port. Sea days are highly structured with classes and pre-port presentations that prepare you for the upcoming country visit. Days on land are unstructured and can be spent on program-sponsored or self-arranged activities. There are countless opportunities to connect with local people and projects, and to explore the natural beauty of each country. Even though our time in each port was brief, the overall experience of Semester at Sea was rich, impactful, and complete - more than the sum of its parts.

Semester at Sea gave me a glimpse of what it means to be a global citizen. It provided me with a unique platform for exploring the world and understanding the relationships between cultures. If you approach your voyage in a conscientious and open way, it will provide you with a truly global perspective and a lifetime of inspiration!

(I mainly documented my experience through audio recordings rather than pictures and video. You can listen to a musical collage of my favorite recordings here: https://soundcloud.com/crumble/the_surrounding_waves )

How can this program be improved?
There is a missed opportunity for guided reflection by the ship's community leaders. Post-country reflection is usually done through casual conversation or solo writing, and I wish that there had been more intentional community building through discussion and reflection after each country. I've heard that some voyages do include guided reflection activities, but this is dependent on the individual voyage staff and not standardized across voyages.
Yes, I recommend
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Aubrey
10/10

The ship that became family in just 4 months

The best part about SAS was the community on the ship. The people were so amazing. It was so fun to be able to share with them and have open conversations about anything and everything. Everyone was so friendly and excited to learn about the world and other peoples cultures and points of view. That was the most amazing part of the trip for me. I learned just as much about myself as I did the world while traveling around it. It was a trip of discovery and way too much fun!

How can this program be improved?
It honestly was perfect to me. I wouldn't change a single thing.
Yes, I recommend
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Ashley
10/10

Recommended for Everyone

This program changed my life more than anything else I have ever experience. Almost very day at sea is a "school day" but you don't have classes when in port. I would give practically anything to go again.

How can this program be improved?
Food on the ship is mediocre but the voyage makes it well worth it. You can eat AMAZING food in port.
Yes, I recommend
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Patrick
10/10

Semester at Sea - There's no place I'd rather be!

I had the pleasure of attending the Summer '13 trip around the Mediterranean. The program gave me the opportunity to meet people I wouldn't have been able to meet otherwise, and has taught me lessons in life that I hold on to to this day. It was the greatest decision of my life. The classes are fun, the Ship's activities and staff are the best, and the memories the trip created are some that I can recall like I was there yesterday. Don't just think about going on it, actually do it. As Homer put it, "The journey is the thing", and it's a journey that will stay with you forever. Take the opportunity to do the program, because you might regret it if you don't.

Yes, I recommend
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Beth
10/10

Best Experience of My Life!

I traveled with SAS during the summer of 2013 and it was the best summer of my life! The classes were incredible, the ship was great, the friends I made are forever friends, and the experience was truly once in a lifetime!

Yes, I recommend
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Crystal
10/10

Once In A Lifetime Experience

If you love traveling and don't get motion sickness, you should definitely consider SAS. It was by far the coolest program I have ever, or will ever, be a part of and I would do it over 100 times if I could! You have to be ready for certain things, like eating pasta 3 nights a week, or crossing the Atlantic (12 day trek) on the ship, but all things considered, it's a pretty great living situation, you are on a cruise ship after all! You have total freedom to do whatever you want in port cities and there is never a dull moment. You can travel with different groups of people all the time and still maintain a solid friend group on the ship. So many pros that they outweigh any cons.

How can this program be improved?
I would try to get more food options and a more lenient alcohol policy.
Yes, I recommend
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Maryum
10/10

Once in a Lifetime

Semester at Sea was undoubtedly the best four months of my life and truly a once in a lifetime experience. I had the chance to visit 13 countries in 111 days while taking classes and making lifelong friends & memories. On the Fall 2011 voyage we traveled to Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Honduras (changed from Cuba last minute). The diversity of the shipboard community is spectacular, as I was surrounded by people with the same adventurous spirit from all different backgrounds, ages, and countries. You wake up every morning with the world to look forward to and a new country on the horizon. Dreams are turned into reality and even bigger aspirations are formed in the meantime. You learn to live a simple life. Your friends and peers become your family. You forget about technology and focus on the moment. Food isn't the best, but you get used to it - taco nights make up for it. Sleep becomes a lost luxury of the past. The world is such a big & beautiful place and experiencing it firsthand changes you in ways you cannot even imagine. It takes you out of your comfort zone and alters your perspective on everything. Even though at times you will feel helpless about the conditions you come across in underdeveloped countries, you become extremely grateful for what you have and learn how you can give back to those in need. You will be driven and inspired to do wonderful things in the world. A semester abroad in Europe would have been great, but not many people can say they circumnavigated the globe on a ship in a whole semester. The opportunities are endless and the journey is what you make of it!

Yes, I recommend
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Steven
10/10

Trip of a Lifetime

Semester at Sea was my favorite semester of college. Life on the ship is about academics and socializing with other students. You take classes and attend guest lectures. They bring in speakers from all areas of expertise such as CIA personnel and former ambassadors. Life off the ship is about experiencing the various cultures with the locals. Smoking hookah with Turks in Istanbul was an amazing experience. In addition to individual travel, students attend field labs depending on the class they take. I took a Gender Politics class, and we met with a Moroccan feminist organization and visited an illegal women's shelter. I still keep in contact with other SASers and visit them even though they live all over the world.

How can this program be improved?
Semester at Sea is very expensive.
Yes, I recommend
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Dylan
9/10

A Life-Defining Experience

The semester was the most challenging, yet rewarding, most exciting, most frightening, and most eye opening experience of my life. Imagine waking up in the middle of the ocean, going to the most interesting classes you've ever taken. You then eat lunch, listen to an announcement about daily activities and the current depth and temperature of the ocean, head to class or study, and hang out with your new best friends the rest of the night. You even get a free snack time later.

How can this program be improved?
This program is too expensive, but it is worth the cost.
Yes, I recommend
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Mariah
10/10

Best part of college

if you love to travel do semester at sea! I loved this program, loved the people, loved the ship, and had one of the best experiences of my life. You learn so much about how to travel and become a seasoned traveler in just a few months. Perfect for college aged students

How can this program be improved?
I was not crazy about a few of the ports but that depends on what voyage you pick.
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...