Bailey Richert - 2010 Program Participant

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Bailey poses in front of a marker at the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwestern point in Africa.

What made you decide to study abroad?

When I was in high school I attended Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, for one week during which I met a group of Australian students who were on holiday from their country to the U.S. More than anything on that trip, I loved exchanging cultural information and stories. I knew right then and there that I wanted to study abroad when I was in college. I did. In 2007 I did an international exchange to London for 6 months as an undergraduate sophomore, but that experience only fueled the intensity that I had to travel. I knew I wanted to go abroad again, and doing so during college provides one the opportunity to leave for an extended period of time that I knew I might not get as a post-grad adult.

Why did you choose Semester at Sea over other opportunities?

Semester at Sea afforded me the opportunity visit countries that I knew I might not be able to study in for an extended period of time because of language barriers. Plus, when I worked out the cost of the entire trip, it was a great value to be able to see so many places in so short a time period.

What was your favorite part about the locations you visited?

On Semester at Sea, I visited 10 foreign countries, and each was incredibly different. The food, the history, the clothing. I think what I honestly enjoyed most was that even navigating daily life within a foreign city is an adventure. Ordering lunch in a restaurant, seeing a film, shopping for groceries; everything seems new to you, no matter what you are doing.

Bronze Buddha statue on Lantau Island outside of Hong Kong

Bailey stands in front of the bronze Buddha statue on Lantau Island, outside of Hong Kong.

What makes a learning voyage at sea a once in a lifetime opportunity?

I don't know of any other programs like Semester at Sea in which you can visit 10 countries in a semester and make 600 new friends aboard a cruise ship that will take you, literally, around the globe.

How did the ship's staff support you throughout your program? 

The Semester at Sea staff aboard the ship is phenomenal. They have resident assistants on each floor to help organize activities, an academic dean to guide education, ship crew, and staff to help you with your amenities and cook meals. Even prior to boarding, the staff at the Semester at Sea office is there to help every step of the way with your application, financial aid, visas, and more.

If you could go back and do it again, what would you do differently?

I wish I would have gotten up every morning to watch the sun rise on the ocean horizon.

Describe a day in the life of a student on the ship.

When you are aboard the ship, you will have have classes in various rooms on decks four, five, and six. On deck seven there is a pool where students are often found lounging, studying, and doing homework in between classes. Dinner is often had out on decks five and six where you can feel the ocean breeze as you eat. If three meals and a snack time isn't enough for you, there are also two bars which serve meals. There are many activities planned on the ship as well, such as a "Sea Olympics" day and "Neptune Day." When you are docked in port, students do not have class. Their only priority is to go into town and explore, explore, explore! You may choose to take advantage of Semester At Sea-organized trips, or you may choose to do your own with the friends you've made on board.

What was your favorite special activity during your program?

Neptune Day is a particularly fun day on the ship. It is held when the ship crosses the equator, and it replicates some of the fun traditions a person who has never crossed the equator by ship before is supposed to do, such as kiss a fish, get "fish guts" spilled on them, and much more! What is so fun is that not just the students participate in these themed days, the administrators and staff get utterly consumed in the fun as well.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Bailey stands atop Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town, South Africa.

What was it like living in on a ship?

Students have a choice of paying different amounts for the program based on what deck they are placed in. Some rooms face the ocean while others do not, and some rooms are larger in size. A typical room has two single beds; you will share with a cabin-mate. You can request to be placed with someone, I believe, if you are going on the trip with a friend, or you will get assigned. Each room as a private bath with standing shower, sink, and toilet. There is a split closet, mirror, and two nightstands. I also liked the safe in the room where you can keep your valuables.

How does studying abroad change the lives of students forever? 

A semester abroad impacts your life in ways that you do not even realize at the time. Of course it makes you a more compassionate, patient, and resilient person, but it also changes the way you approach life. Before my travels, an international aspect to my work and career wasn't necessarily something I craved. Now, it is a requirement, and I have considered this in every aspect of my life decisions, including returning to school, writing a book, and starting new jobs.