Follow me, as I sail the Atlantic with 500 others who dare to live, study, and travel together.
It started at what I thought was really the culmination of the Fall 2012 voyage: as my mother and I pulled into campus for the Spring semester, I looked at her with a strange sense of anxiety, ‘it’s going to be so weird coming back, ma.’
I felt like a Kindergartener going to her first day of school. In many ways, I felt this way each Fall at the beginning of a new school year, but this time, it wasn’t just a girl coming back from 3 months of summer; it was a girl -who had lived for 2 months ‘without money’, who had lived more at sea than on land, – who had survived a mugging and a few pickpockets, -who had been hosted by strangers, -who made friends (she knows will be family for a lifetime).
Not only did I have to readjust to normality, I had to, in many ways, suppress the beautiful memories that I had lived in order to focus on the present, on the future, and on the beautiful friends that I hadn’t seen in months.
My mother’s reaction to all of this was, “pero ve otra vez!” — then “go again”, she said, chuckling. Somewhat aggravated that she wasn’t taking me seriously, ‘ma, don’t even joke about it – that’s not funny’.
It turns out that I was the one not taking her seriously. She, more than anyone knew the impact of the experience I had – of the better person I had become- and of the business plan that I thought of (while I was in Ghana) and hoped to develop if I was given another chance on the MV explorer.
Within minutes, I was on the SAS website, looking to see what the Spring 2014 itinerary looked like.
And now, a few months later, here I am — grateful and excited to call the MV explorer ‘home’ again.
***Of course, there were many hurdles to overcome. First and foremost, there was the challenge of getting my university to waive the requirement that one’s last 30 credits needed to be taken at the university.Luckily, my deans’ recognition and acceptance of my business plan, along with the understanding of how another voyage would help me to develop it, not only helped me to gain their approval, but it also provided me with another scholarship to work on the plan.
For my wonderful family and friends who are and have been supportive of my departure, I promise you that this won’t be in vain.
Time after time, a college student is reminded that his/her four years as an undergraduate are a time of self-discovery, particularly as it relates to his relationship with his environment, his community, and his outside world. For me, it is impossible to discover who I am as a person without knowing about others around this world. I chose a Semester at Sea to expose me to the unknown, to break through any misconceptions I have about many places; instead of limiting myself to one city, one country, or one continent, I want to be as limitless as I can possibly be, so that I may truly learn what being an international business major is about. Who knows, perhaps after my trip to Ghana or after my venture to Brazil, Earlene as she is known today may never come back.
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In my high school philosophy class, I was made aware that the human eye is actually incapable of seeing the true color of objects as they are; therefore, what we believe to be red may actually blue, and what is considered to be white may actually be black and vise versa. This knowledge led me to consider the sheer stupidity of racism and segregation. For many, color is a sufficient measure of separation; however, it is not even a precise measure, as our own eyes are incapable of accurately detecting color. The fact is that what our eyes can see is often what our hearts come to believe; however, our views are constantly skewed and inaccurate, thus leading us to believe what is untrue.
Breaking free from our preconceived visions and perceptions is truly an innate challenge of self discovery, which is why I believe that setting myself free from the comforts of my life in the United States will certainly help me to see the world as it truly is. Simply because I was born in New Jersey does not mean that this is where I belong and that this is where I should stay. It is a well-known fact that even what we see on TV is controlled by a few elite members of society, and my question is: how dare they? How dare they blind me, leading me to believe what is untrue?
I first experienced my misconceptions on a trip to Venezuela, where my father currently resides. It was my first time traveling to Venezuela, and certainly my first time traveling to a communist country. Hearing of the political corruption and distress of the people in the nation as a result of this political unrest, I had a very negative perception of the country’s stability as a whole, even before I had even stepped foot outside the plane. To my surprise, all that my father had attested to on the phone turned out to be true: aside from it being a third world country, it is very modern in many areas, including its highly innovative metro systems and all the children having laptops subsidized by the government. These were things I had never heard on the news. Despite me being in a relatively poor area of Caracas, the nation’s capital, I did not see a single child begging on the streets, nor did I see a single homeless individual, as I had seen numerous times in New York City or in Washington D.C.. Of course, communism has its drawbacks; however, the drawbacks were the only thing I ever heard about Venezuela…
I no longer want to be blinded. – I no longer want to be blinded by the things that I cannot see. I want to open my eyes to the unknown because if I am to make a difference in this world, I need to see and experience the truth for myself ‘with new pair of eyes’. I no longer want to believe solely what my eyes can see and what they have seen. For this reason, I need exposure to things beyond the screen. I no longer want to vicariously live what others experience. I want to be there, breathing the air, feeling the universal heat of the sun, hearing voices I may not understand, and seeing the truth right before my colorblind eyes.