Kelly Webber - 2004 Program Participant
With an undergraduate degree in Marketing and German and a Masters in Intercultural Relations, it is no wonder Kelly studied abroad during her academic career and has recently begun a career in international education as Assistant Director for Internships at Wellesley College. She credits her insatiable fernweh and never-ending quest for good "street eats" to her time abroad.
Kelly with friends during a stopover in Japan!
Why did you choose Semester at Sea? What about a multi-country program was most appealing?
I actually had the opportunity to do two semesters abroad, so I had the best of both worlds! I studied in Heidelberg,Germany for one semester and then did Semester at Sea for my second semester of junior year. This was a great opportunity to experience one culture more in depth (my time in Heidelberg) versus the comparative nature of a multi-country program (Semester at Sea).
What Semester at Sea really excels at is giving you a taste of the unknown. During my voyage we visited many places I wouldn't have normally visited on my own. Places that, after returning from my trip, I have visited again for extended periods of time. It's a great gateway experience for traveling abroad!
What was the biggest challenge you faced on your program?
Deciding what to do in port. With only four to five days in each place, you want to make every moment count. Balancing assignments from class with personal exploration was sometimes tough. There is so much to do and only so much time to do it in!
What was your favorite part of the program? Least favorite?
Favorite: Definitely the places I visited and the friends and memories I made. Sunrises and sunsets at sea. Taco Tuesday (do they still have that?).
Least favorite: Taking finals during a rough sea crossing.
What's the most important advice you would give other participants?
Get off your computers, disconnect and enjoy the ride. I'm not sure what the current state of affairs with technology on board is -- but when I was on Semester at Sea, before Facebook and Twitter, during the age when AOL ruled the land, getting online was expensive. I would log on maybe once a week to download my emails and send everything in my outbox. And you know what? It was wonderful. Being disconnected is very liberating!
How has your experience abroad impacted your life and career?
My time abroad at Semester at Sea and all subsequent journeys abroad have completely shifted the course of my life. Personally, it has made me a kinder, more empathetic, independent person.
Professionally, I now work with International Students and assist with international internships and career development -- so I guess you can say the impact was great!
If you could study abroad again, where would you go and why?
Gosh, that's a hard question. Do I have to choose just one? Maybe India, because I've been itching to get back for an extended trip and I find the culture endlessly fascinating.