15.45 N, 17.45 W
7 April 2017
“It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me, but life at sea is better.”
Sir Francis Drake
As I began this blog post, I had to double check my journal to make sure that I had the date right. Day 92? Has it really been 92 days since I first stepped foot onto the MV World Odyssey? 92 days since I had my first meal of pasta and potatoes? 92 days since I overlooked the ocean for the first time from the deck of a ship? 92 days since I met my cabinmate, unaware of the incredible memories we would make throughout the semester of traveling and classes? 92 days since I began the trip of a lifetime? Yes, it has been 92 days, and they have been the most amazing 92 days of my college career.
Going into Semester at Sea, I had no idea what to expect. Growing up, I had moved a lot, going to nine different schools before I landed at Cottey for college. Change is normal for me, and I adjust quickly to new surroundings and new people; however, SAS provided a unique challenge. It was not a standard school environment, and the students were not standard college kids. Instead, we were all full of wanderlust, seeking to find all that the world had to offer us. SAS granted us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones and dive head first into cultures and countries that taught, challenged, and inspired us. We explored entire cities on foot; tried new, mystery foods; hiked mountains; got lost, then found our way again; danced in African villages; and had deep conversations with new friends across the world. And, when our adventures came to an end at each port, the ship was always there with a string of twinkling lights to welcome us home again.
I remember when I was younger and would sit down and watch “The Suite Life on Deck,” and my brothers and I would talk about how cool it would be to go to school on a ship. At the time, that seemed like an impossibility, something that was just made up for a children’s TV show. However, fast forward 10 years, and I am sailing around the world on my own floating campus. It was when I was on an overnight field program in Cambodia and our group began to sing the theme song of “The Suite Life on Deck” that I realized my childhood dreams of living like Zack and Cody had come true. Granted, our cabins aren’t actually as big as those in the TV show, and our ports aren’t all beachy resorts, but the general idea still stands. We have our unique traditions, new friendships, and memories to last a lifetime.
As our voyage begins to come to a close, I am reminded each and every day how incredible it has been to have such a unique and fantastic opportunity to explore the world with such an amazing group of students, staff, faculty, and crew. My time on board the ship has had many moments that are reminiscent to those at Cottey, as community is a major aspect of life on deck. The tight-knit Cottey community is one of the major elements that convinced me to attend the small women’s college. Between the P.E.O. Sisterhood and Cottey College, I have an incredible network of friends and sisters across the nation, and I am forever grateful for that. When I was at school this fall, I was constantly reminded how much the students care for one another. While there may be occasional drama, Cottey students will always be there for other Cottey students. SAS has a similar mentality, and our deans are constantly reminding us that “SASers look out for SASers.” We all come from different schools, backgrounds, and even countries, but we have been brought together by an experience that only 600 students each semester get to experience. Semester at Sea is truly academia’s best kept secret, so I am so thankful that I got to be one of the select 600 who was granted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a semester on a ship, exploring the world, and forming meaningful friendships along the way.
I only have thirteen more days left on the voyage, and much like many of the Cottey Seniors right now, I’m not ready for the semester to come to an end. Leaving SAS means that the most incredible experience of my life comes to an end; however, just because the traveling stops, doesn’t mean that the experiences or friendships have to end as well. As with Cottey, I know that my Semester at Sea friendships will continue, despite long distances between my friends and me. So, now, I plan to make the most of the last couple weeks of my expedition, rather than mourning that it is nearly over. I have had an indescribable, eye-opening adventure, and I look forward to my next opportunity to return to the sea.