November 12, 2016
One of the hardest things for many people on Semester at Sea is being away from your family and close friends. While many students go to college away from home and are used to not living with their parents or only going home for the holidays, it is a very different situation on the ship. For one, you’re on the other side of the world. Two, the only way of communication to your friends and family back at home while you’re at sea is through “seamail”—which is Semester at Sea’s email which we have access to 24/7 even though we don’t have access to much internet.
While it can be very hard to deal with missing you’re family at home, Semester at Sea makes great efforts to make this as little as possible. Many people don’t know that Semester at Sea isn’t only full of students but we also have many children and “elderly” people on board as well. Many professors bring their spouses and their children spanning from the age of 3-17. The kids also go to school on board and do independent study. They definitely brighten the ship, as they run around, play games and are always laughing/smiling.
Also, Semester at Sea has a Life Long Learner program where “non-students” come along on the voyage. Many of the life long learners are about retirement age, maybe 55 years or older. One Life Long Learner I met, however, named Noah was only in his 30s. Many of them also have a longer history with SAS. Another Life Long Learner, Conrad, went on Semester at Sea as a student in the 80s and now is a life long learner. One of the student’s parents met on Semester at Sea and now she is on the voyage with her grandparents from her mom’s side and her grandmother from her father’s side. The Life Long Learners are great people to talk to; they give great experiential advice about life and love to talk to the students.
With so many family members around, Semester at Sea has these “extended family dinners” where on designated nights we (the students) eat with our “family” which comprises of families on board. Our professors, RDs, administration, or life long learners are set up as our “parents” and our siblings are other students or the actually faculty’s family. It definitely brings a certain joy on the ship to be able to eat with your family.
Your friends on ship also become a close part of your family. You’re always around them—whether it be studying, eating, traveling, playing games, watching movies, etc. When you travel with people, you find that there’s a certain bond that creates an incredible relationship. You create relationships that can last for the rest of your life.