Meredith Dungar - 2007 Program Participant

Sunrise over the pyramids in Cairo.
Sunrise over the pyramids in Cairo.

What is the most important advice you would give other participants?

Absolutely without a doubt, keep an open mind. Also, eat. It sounds so silly, but when you're traveling around and your blood sugar drops, I don't care who you are or who you're with, it's hard to stay nice.

What was the most unusual experience you had during your program? 

Most unusual experience, there were probably too many to count (for either unusual or unique), but this was our life, showing up in a different country every other week or so and acclimating as quickly as possible.

Two specific things come to mind that would be unusual here to us in the states:

1. When we arrived in Thailand we made plans to meet at our hotel at a specific time with the other half of our group, they got lost or something, but they ended up being two hours late, and we just waited because no one had cell phones. That would never happen in this time of cell phones and instant communication from anywhere.

2. My friend Katherine and I went to a place in a mall for lunch one day while we were in India. We were the only women and they seated us as a table for four, which was great. A few minutes later they seated a white couple across from us, luckily they were British so we could talk, but it appeared that it was assumed that we just all knew each other!

What was the most unique experience you had on Semester at Sea?

Most unique was making friends with an Egyptian family and getting invited to their home to celebrate their youngest son's 7th birthday.

What’s one thing you wish you would have brought with you? 

I really can't think of one thing. I made sure to have starting off cash for each country ($50 or so) that was extremely helpful!

What was the biggest challenge you faced onboard? 

Seasickness on rough days at sea. Move with the rolling waves.

What was your favorite part of the program? 

Seeing the world. And it being my sea's laundry day the day we got back from India!

Did you ever feel homesick?

Two times. Once in Thailand when I called my cousin to wish him a Happy Wedding Day. The other time when I called my parents from Egypt.

What did you do to overcome that feeling?

I don't feel like either of these times I wanted to stop what I was doing, I just wanted to share all these moments... I was so grateful to my parents for letting me see the world and yearning for them was a way that was expressed. I think you overcome the feeling of being homesick by making a choice, every morning you wake up and you have a choice: to be sad or to be happy. Everyday choose to be happy. In choosing to be happy you are choosing to take in every moment and adventure and experience wanderlust, most importantly laugh at the mishaps. If you choose to be sad, you miss all of that.

Describe the program in three words.

Absolutely life changing.