Semester at Sea: The Suite Life

Sixty students from USD just returned from SAS, aka Semester at Sea. I was lucky enough to be one of those people, and the amount of stories I could tell are honestly overwhelming. Despite this, I hate talking about myself, and would love to dish on the unreal and mind-blowing things that happened to my fellow travelers instead.

First off, you’ve probably been living under a rock if you aren’t aware of this educational program. To sum it up, it’s a floating campus that travels across the world for four months. And yes, we actually did go to class on a cruise ship even though those two flights of stairs seemed unbearable when we had to wake up at 10 a.m.

But 14 countries in 108 days beg for some interesting stories. The trip included a variety of activities, including riding camels in Morocco, eating real Belgian waffles, sleeping on a hammock in the middle of the Amazon, strolling down the alleyways in Havana, having a picnic at the Eiffel Tower, visiting the leather markets in Italy and much more! These are just some of the telltale signs you went on SAS.

Ali Chingros says her favorite memory was in Paris, France, when she devoted a few hours to having a picnic under the Eiffel Tower: “I actually got a little too excited and got an entire wheel of Brie and block of Gouda.... with no intentions of sharing. We all walked to the Eiffel Tower, sat down on the lawn and just relaxed and ate our bread and cheese. It was one of the simplest things my friends and I did abroad but the most memorable. It was so fun to pass around the different cheeses and take equally cheesy pictures under the tower using our baguettes as props. After months of a ‘go, go, go’ lifestyle, it was so nice to just sit back and take the entire afternoon to soak in that I was in Paris with the people I love.” 

Ashley Zmyslo can’t stop talking about Cuba, where she met amazing people and created incredible memories: “We entered Cuba on an academic visa, so we were all required to go to the University of Havana and attend speakers and interact with the local college students. While I can’t say that the speaker who educated us on the difference between the Cuban government and ours was super thrilling, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to interact with the students who were all our age. One student taught me how to salsa dance and another directed my friends and me to a little hole-in-the-wall where we got four delicious personal pizzas for less than $4. Learning that their lifestyle and day-to-day activities are not much different than ours was so eye-opening. I truly believe this was my favorite day, not because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but because I was surrounded by good, kind-hearted and happy people who made me feel at home where I least expected it.” 

Ayah Karadsheh fell in love with Dublin, Ireland, where she says she had the time of her life: “My favorite memory of SAS was spending an entire three days in Dublin wandering through the streets and doing whatever our hearts desired. We weren't on a schedule or in a rush to get anywhere; it was so nice to just enjoy each other’s company. Everything from the bartender pick-up lines (Come over to my place, and I'll show you my Lucky Charms) to the leprechaun museum was a whimsical adventure. The place we ended up at day after day was Gogarty’s Bar in Temple Bar. Let’s just say we aren’t allowed back… ever.” 

Needless to say, SAS was an experience of a lifetime – one that none of us will ever be able to re-live. We have already had the best time of our lives, so everything that comes after this is probably going to be downhill. I would recommend SAS to anyone in a heartbeat so students, start filling out your applications here