Diversity Abroad – Blog

Semester at Sea 2016: It’s today!!


So it’s today. I’m so excited I feel like I can hardly breathe! But it’s only 8:20…and I cannot board until 11:00. So until then, I’m left to continue to wander the St. Pauli district of Hamburg.

Getting here was hectic—I forgot my bank card only after arriving at the airport, which was a good hour away from my house. (Note to anyone traveling abroad ever: quadruple check you have your debit card!!) Thankfully, I was able to run to the TD Bank in Quincy Market and get a new one, but still: not an ideal way to start this voyage of a lifetime. The flight across the Atlantic was largely me being amazed at the free cocktail served in economy (like what?) and struggling to understand things being said. The entire crew was German who yes, spoke English and translated everything, but they all had an extraordinarily thick accent.

After being “that person” and changing in the Frankfurt airport bathrooms, I boarded my hour-long flight to Hamburg. And after a silent taxi ride to my hotel, I was off to wander Hamburg for my 24-hour stay. I got food, went to the Edeka supermarkt where I bought a variety of Haribo gummy bears, and wandered down to the port of Hafencity. I got to see the World Explorer (!) as well as explore the old port roads still lined with buildings from the time of the Hanseatic League. I actually think I walked nearly 10km—not even joking.

There she is in all her beauty. This was as close as I could get without getting in trouble.

There she is in all her beauty. This was as close as I could get without getting in trouble.

A bit on academics:

While on my voyage, I will also be taking twelve credits of classes. IE300 Global Studies is the core course of the program, wherein prior to each port we hear about issues central to the modern country we are visiting. For example, before we dock in Barcelona, this class examines if “one Europe” is truly possible, given the ethnic histories and traditions of various peoples—with a case study looking at the Basque and Catalan communities within the larger Castile-dominated Spain.

Global Studies is also the one class I will not have a field lab for. Each of my other three classes has an associated field lab. Each of my three field labs are different, but they’re kind of like a smoothie-blend of field trips, guest lecturers, and in-class projects. Sort of. And they’re different from class to class, mine in particular are explained a bit more later on. All of my classes (including Global Studies) also requires independent field assignments. These are similar to the field labs but are focused on your own individual travels within each port, not those you go on with the class itself.

At my home university, I am pursuing a Certificate (in laymen’s terms: a multidisciplinary minor) in Culture, Health, and Science. The opportunity to study abroad, for me, gives me a chance to examine these intersections on an international level. In IE272 Current Global Issues: Diseases Without Borders the class looks at the implications of deadly epidemics in the twenty-first century. Maybe a bit of a spoiler, but I may be the most excited for this field lab. On our first day in Dakar, Senegal (Oct 21), as a class we will go to the University of Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD). Here, we’ll learn how the university and the US Peace Corps are conducting workshops around malaria prevention and control throughout east Africa.

My final two classes focus on Latin America. HIST411 Latin America Since Independence focuses, rather simply, on the making of the modern Latin America. My field lab for this class will be in Callao (Lima), Peru (Nov 22)—the exact details of this lab appear to still be in development, but hopefully will have a focus on how contemporary Peruvian issues in interact with the region’s history. And LSPA250 Latin American Outlaws: Pirates, Maroons, Bandits, Guerrilleros, and Narcos is all about the role outlaws and rebels play in modern Latino/a literature. While in Salvador, Brazil (Nov 1), we will visit a Maroon village, or quilombo, where descendants of former escaped slaves continue to live in order to see first-hand how the history of slavery continues to relate to the present.

It’s still not 11:00, but once 10:30 or so comes in two hours, I’m off to the Hafencity port to check-in and disembark!