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Semester at Sea - Fall Voyage: Spain
Semester at Sea ship Semester at Sea ship

Semester at Sea - Fall Voyage: Spain

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

Most impactful thing anyone can ever do

I did SAS 18 year ago. As a 20 year old turning 21 in Capetown South Africa. Now I have worked and done business globally for the last 12 years in the hedge fund industry. I can't stress enough the necessity for anyone (student of otherwise) to get the global perspective and education provided by SAS. It still sits with me today as the most amazing voyage of all time....

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

BEST Thing I've EVER done!

I can't even begin to describe how incredible my experience was! I dream of being back on the ship with a new exciting port at my fingertips. I learned so much about the cultures I visited as well as about myself. LOVED it!.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    N/A

  • Living Situation

    N/A

  • Cultural Immersion

    N/A

  • Program Administration

    N/A

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

Hands-Down "A" Experience

I studied abroad with SAS in the summer of 2006, and it was 65 days traveling around South East Asia. It was an incredible experience and I would recommend it hands down to anybody. It's a cruise ship that was converted into a college campus; there's classrooms, libraries, top notch professors from all over the U.S., students from all over the U.S... it was an incredible experience. It's sponsored by the University of Virginia so your credits are as if you were at the University of Virginia as if you would have studied there for a summer or a semester.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    3

  • Health & Safety

    6

  • Community

    5

The best way to study abroad, but not the paradise it's made out to be

First off, all of my negatives are really minor compared to the one big positive - visiting a dozen countries in one semester. What you might lose in terms of immersion in one culture is more than made up by the unique ability to compare all those countries in one go. The problem is semester at sea has a very vocal group of alumni who talk up the program like its made of solid gold, and my expectations were built up way higher than they should have been. You should know before you go:

The food sucks. I came back 20 pounds lighter because I was unable to eat much of what's served on the boat after a month or so.

You will be a second class passenger. The faculty, staff and life long learners (with a few exceptions) formed into their own unit, and proceeded to take advantage of their positions in ways that left the students with the short end of the stick.

Semester at sea blatantly lies about its cabins - the economy cabins are quite a bit worse then described on their site, or to me in person when I did a ship tour before my voyage. I didn't have too much of a problem with living in a crew cabin (after all, the crew does it!) but I felt cheated that they didn't actually tell me what I signed up for. Several students couldn't stand it, and transferred into a more expensive cabin, at a cost of several thousand dollars.

You will be groped every time you get back on the ship. In order to keep alcohol and drugs from making their way on board, you will get a TSA style pat-down when you board, and your backpack/bags will get searched and or emptied on a table. For this reason getting back on the ship can take up to 2 hours, if several tours get back at the same time.

On the other hand, the stuff you actually do in country is amazing. I would do it all again in a heartbeat, and I'm even a donating alumni now, but that doesn't mean the program is flawless or shouldn't be improved.

Academics:
My global studies course (which was required) was a huge waste of time. The professor just spouted statistics and buzzwords, without actually teaching anything. The rest of my classes were much better, up to the level of my home institution

Living Situation:
The ships "economy" cabins are actually crew cabins they put students in. It you choose this class you'll: share a cabin smaller than the regular doubles with 2 or 3 other roommates, have less outlets then occupants, have a lifeboat station on the wrong side of the ship, possibly be in a bunk bed (watch out for high seas!) have less storage space, no seating or desk space, and gloomy decorations. Semester at sea specifically doesn't say these rooms are crew cabins because they know you wont pick them. All the other cabins are actually as described.

Cultural Immersion:
This is the reason to go on semester at sea.

Program Administration:
The faculty and staff on the ship (on my voyage) abused their positions. The academic dean refused to take criticism or responsibility over the poor quality of global studies. Everyone has to go through security to get on the ship, but the faculty and staff declared themselves allowed to cut the line (there were a few professors who would stand in line anyway). They were also allowed into each and every port first - the students had to wait up to an hour before we were allowed off the ship. They got first dibs at table selection for the fancy dinner, taking up all the window tables.

These are all little things, but it adds up to where all the students were frustrated with being treated like 3rd class passengers on Semester at Sea.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    2

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

Fun trip, relaxed academics

Excellent trip. Not the most rigorous classes, but the cultural and social experience more than made up for it. Coming from Stanford you are used to much more rigoros standard of testing academics. Overall, I'd recommend it as an experience.