The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Around the world in 100 days

Student shares her experience traveling the world and going to class on a

There are some things in this life we can imagine ourselves doing, but going around the world on a ship is not one of them.

That day back in October 2004 seems long ago now as I remember picking a random postcard off the floor at Hyer Hall. Glancing at it, I saw the words “Semester at Sea” and it caught my interest. I tucked it into my bag and looked at it more closely later that day.

Accredited college hours through the University of Pittsburgh, managed by the Institute for Shipboard Education, 100 days, on a nearly 600-foot ship called the MV Explorer with 700 other students from numerous universities, visiting ten countries (Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii and, finally, San Diego), side trips in every port – it all seemed like a stretch to me.

I instantly called my parents to run the tall idea by them. As usual, they responded positively to the idea of an adventurous education.

I submitted an application, but not before standing ceremonially next to the mailbox in Hughes-Trigg, as I offered a silent prayer. I pledged that I would override any second thoughts or trepidations if I were accepted into the program. Weeks later it was a go.

Over the summer months, I read and reread the thick brochure outlining the ship’s course, the ports, the countless options for additional travel and more about life at sea. Nervous butterflies, mixed with waves of excitement, propelled me through the packing before departing for Nassau in late August.

My mother accompanying me, we made it to the Bahamas, despite the concern of Katrina and some lost luggage. As we neared the dock where the bright blue MV Explorer awaited its passengers, it was easy to detect fellow students about to embark around the world. In a flurry of goodbyes and last-minute instructions, the MV Explorer departed the dock at promptly 17:00 hours.

To describe the next 100 days is impossible, especially since I am still digesting it myself. Being at sea for days on end awakened me to the reality of how vast our world really is. Sea life enabled me to slow down and soak in the serenity of each amazing sunset, appreciate the countless shades of ocean blue and feel the excitement of spotting land as we neared each port.

I will never forget standing at the train station in India at midnight surrounded by disabled children, some even with Elephantitis. Shocked and unable to believe the reality of the devastation I was seeing, I found two of my closest friend and hugged them while I sobbed.

It was difficult to understand a world so far away from what I am used to. As hard as it was for me, I could get on a beautiful ship upon leaving India and travel around the world, but those people are still waking up in the same conditions day after day. That is even harder for me to swallow.

Each country was unique and life-changing in its own way. Coming back to SMU in January, I felt like a new me. I could not be more proud to come back to a beautiful university with great friends and be in the best country in the world.No matter where I go in life, I will never forget the best 100 days of my life. Much of that has to do with the awesome friends I made on board.

They are special in an unusual way, since our days together were spent in a surreal environment, a floating community experiencing the world. We leaned on each other for support and saw the world through each other’s eyes. That bond is forever.

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