News

Semester at Sea offers foreign learning experience

This past spring, 14 University of Miami students spent the semester cruising around the globe on the world’s largest floating university.

The Semester at Sea program has given 45,000 students the opportunity to travel the world since its inception in 1963. Last spring’s voyage took students to 12 countries on four continents in 100 days. Ports of call included San Juan, Puerto Rico; Capetown, South Africa; Kobe, Japan; and Port Louis, Mauritius.

Semester at Sea is academically sponsored by the University of Virginia and administered by the Institute for Shipboard Education, a non-profit organization.

Most students take four classes, which meet daily, while on board, including a required global studies class that aims to teach students about the countries they will be visiting.

Occasionally students are given assignments to complete while in port, said junior Tiffany Provenzano, who participated in the program in the spring.

“Classes were definitely no joke,” Provenzano said. “I had to pull several all-nighters.”

Each semester, the 700 participants are boarded in standard cruise ship-style rooms. Two students share a bedroom and a bathroom, and maid service is provided daily.

In port, students can participate in Semester at Sea sponsored programs and tours, or choose to venture out on their own.

Jonathan Atwood, a senior and spring participant, said students are given the freedom to travel throughout the countries but must be back on the ship in time to set sail.

Through Semester at Sea, students are also given the opportunity to participate in community service projects in port. Provenzano and others worked with mentally disabled children in Vietnam and in impoverished townships in South Africa.

Other noteworthy Semester at Sea sponsored programs included safaris in Africa, a visit to the Taj Mahal in India and the chance to march in a parade with musicians during Carnival in Brazil.
Students said they came away from the program with a broader understanding of the global community.

“We’re all connected,” said Jake Coley, a senior and spring participant. “Our decisions and actions affect the people around us. You realize how small the world really is and what you do could have an effect on someone halfway around the world.”

Safety of the participants in the program is a main concern for Semester at Sea faculty and staff. In 2005 a rogue wave hit the vessel, knocking out the ship’s navigation system and shutting down three of the engines. In 1996 four Semester at Sea students died when their tour bus crashed near Delhi, India.

“When you’re in these countries you’re going to run in to a lot of stuff that’s out of our hands,” said Christine Papandrea, assistant director of Communications and Public Relations for Semester at Sea. “We tell [the students]what they’ll be in contact with and to use their best judgment when traveling on their own.”

She also noted that the program has a strong safety policy.

“When you have a bunch of college students traveling for the first time there’s bound to be a bunch of people with accidents,” said Coley, adding that he never had any concern for his safety.

A semester’s tuition runs around $20,000 but financial assistance is available in the form of federal grants and loans, as well as Semester at Sea grants, scholarships and work study programs.

Provenzano and Atwood said their merit-based UM scholarships and grants were non-transferable.

“[Coming home] was kind of bittersweet,” Atwood said. “It made me really appreciate my life a lot because there are things we take for granted like running water or a toilet. The United States seems very different to me now.”

Stacey Weitz may be contacted at s.weitz1@umiami.edu.

September 17, 2007

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Miami coach Jim Larranaga and his staff spent recent practices pushing his players to whip the ball ...

The University of Miami confirmed in a written release Sunday that starting cornerback Malek Young s ...

In 2016, the Miami Hurricanes had tight end David Njoku, who went in the first round of the 2017 NFL ...

Four days had passed since his University of Miami basketball team squandered a 13-point second half ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ search for offensive line help is set to continue on the weekend of Jan. 26, w ...

Presidents at three higher education institutions in Miami "lend our unified voices” to the cal ...

Thirty high school English teachers from Brazil are spending six weeks at UM in a new skill-building ...

Global and local efforts needed to respond to biological threats, UM President Julio Frenk warned at ...

As artificial Intelligence takes hold, tech visionary David Kenny stresses keeping human values in t ...

UM’s First Black Graduates Project committee visits an iconic D.C. museum for inspiration to create ...

Bruce Brown Jr. scored 19 points leading Miami to victory over NC State in Raleigh. ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team picked up its third straight win in eight days ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team (1-2) closed out its opening weekend with a 5-2 loss ...

With the help of dominating victories and dramatic comebacks, No. 19 Miami finished the day with an ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team (1-1) returns to action on Sunday, as it travels to N ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.