Aztecs embark on Semester at Sea

by Jamie Ballard, News writer

Five San Diego State students embarked on a voyage at sea on Aug. 23 as part of the Semester at Sea program.

This study abroad option allows students to earn course credit while onboard a ship visiting several different countries. The five Aztecs are part of approximately 627 students that will embark on the MV Explorer, which will visit England, Russia, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, Brazil, Barbados and Cuba over the course of 108 days.

Vanessa Johnston, a SDSU nursing student is one of the Semester at Sea travelers.

“No study abroad program can rival the sheer amount of countries Semester at Sea visits,” Johnston said. “This voyage goes to 16 and I’m also adding The Netherlands and Scotland so in one semester I will see 18 countries on 3 continents.”

Johnston is looking forward to the experience, and hopes to gain a well-rounded worldview.

“I’ve never been abroad before, so I haven’t experienced anything vastly different from American culture,” she said. “I want to be culture shocked and I want to finally see the world just as I’ve always wanted to.”

Hotel operations student Hannah Grossman, another SDSU student onboard the ship, had a different experience before signing up for Semester at Sea.

“I’ve actually completed two other independent study abroad programs in the summers of 2012 and 2013,” she said. “As much as I did love staying in one city for an extended period of time, I decided that with my major I already plan on living in another country after I graduate, but I will never have the opportunity to visit so many places in one trip ever again.

The sense of community Grossman is finding is also inspiring, she said.

“Everyone here is so nice,” she said. “I’ve never felt so comfortable with such a huge group of strangers in my life. Just watching the unique culture evolve on the ship is so cool.”

Amanda Le, a SDSU graphic design student aboard the MV Explorer, said embarking on this experience has provided her with new friends and experiences outside of her comfort zone.

“Before starting I was really nervous about making new friends,” Le said. “It’s a little hard for me to open up to new people. Once I got on the boat everyone was so welcoming.”

As great as the experience seems so far, it hasn’t been without a few bumps in the road, as all three students said that seasickness struck more than a few people as they embarked. Additionally, the rapid shift in time zones means that many are experiencing some level of sleep deprivation, said Johnston.

Regardless, all three students are excited to be gaining knowledge of different cultures, experience traveling abroad and a host of new friends from around the world.

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