Semester at Sea Spring 2009- One Week Until Departure

January 12, 2009

Hello everyone, this is my first ever blog.  I am a 21 year old senior at the University of Iowa. To my great excitement, I was officially accepted into Iowa’s dental school recently.  To celebrate my entrance and to prepare for the upcoming hard work I decided to study abroad during my last semester of undergrad.

As I was discussing where I wanted to go, a friend of mine suggested Semester at Sea (SAS). SAS is a cruise spanning the globe, stopping briefly in 13 different countries. Initially I was skeptical; I would not be able to be fully immersed into any one culture with the smorgasbord of places SAS visited.  Gradually I became convinced as I learned more about the voyage. SAS is a floating campus carrying 710 students around the globe. One thing that changed my mind was the ability to do homestays in many countries. In almost all these areas, I can stay with local families or college students (I will be doing this in at least India and China.) Heres the places I will be given an oppurtunity to experience:

 Nassau, Bahamas Jan 17-19
Cadiz, Spain Jan 28- 31
Casablanca, Morocco Feb 2- 5
Walvis Bay, Namibia Feb 14-16
Cape Town, South Africa Feb 18-22
Port Louis, Mauritius Feb 27-28
Chennai, India March 5-9
Laem Chaband (Bangkok), Thailand March 15-19
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam March 22-27
Hong Kong/ Shang Hai, China March 29-April 3
Kobe/Yokohama, Japan April 6-10
Honolulu, Hawaii April 19-20
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala April 28-30
Fort Lauderdale, Florida May 6

As you can see SAS offers a chance to experience more in four months than most people see in a lifetime.  I couldn’t turn this opportunity down.

Heres a few activities I plan on doing:
-Party bus in Spain for my 22nd bday
-Safari(with overnight camping) in Namibia, Africa
-Great White Shark Diving in S. Africa
-Jumping off the highest Bungee jumping bridge in the world
– 3 day Canoe trip in Thailand’s jungles and caves
– Homestay in India
-Homestay with college students in China who will show me great wall and other famous monuments.
-2 day white water rafting trip with stops (and elephant rides) to secluded areas for fishing in Viet Nam –not finalized yet
-Ziplining through Jungle in Guatemala–not finalized yet

 I also plan on doing some community service work, although I’m not sure what/where yet. Figure I better give back if I can do all these fun things. Just writing about all these gets me excited to set sail!

Now is the ideal time for me to experience all this. At no other time will I be able to pick up everything so easily.  When I am older a wife, kids, a real job or other commitments will make it  more difficult to leave for 4 months. From what I’ve heard from dental students, even next year it would be almost impossible.

The most important factor allowing SAS is my parents support, both financial and otherwise. I would not have been able to arrange all this without their help. Thanks again mom and dad for this great opportunity and helping me so much to get prepared.

Even with my stars aligned, it is difficult to pick up everything and leave town. I just had my going away party (see pictures). Reality set in for the first time as I said goodbye to everyone. I will have little communication with friends or family while I am on the boat. I have heard from past SAS participants there can be quite a bit of boarding shock. My friends and family are the best, it’s depressing to leave you all. At the same time I am looking forward to this more than anything. It’s a strange mix of excitement, sadness, anxiety and anticipation coarsing through my body.

 I am keeping this blog to give you all a window to look into my life abroad. Also, those financing my trip are demanding it. If my Parents are willing to help me out with this once in a lifetime experience, the least I can do is keep a blog.  Lastly, I plan on doing some crazy things, so hopefully this will help me remember them.

 My shipboard life begins in a week. I am so excited! I need to start packing soon and have many other loose ends to tie off before I leave.  Better get to work.


One Response to “Semester at Sea Spring 2009- One Week Until Departure”

  1. awhitter said

    Go For It Alec!!! We are proud and excited about your trip. Plus, we are a bit jealous of your adventures. Got any room in your suitcases for us?

    Mom and Dad

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