“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” – Marilyn Vos Savant
Being able to study in college is the best opportunity to gain knowledge and open your mind to new ideas. This is why we value and take advantage of every opportunity that we can embrace as students. We are students in the José A. (Tony) Santana International School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Universidad del Este, in Carolina, Puerto Rico. This is our fourth year studying a bachelor’s degree in International Hospitality Management, and we are also in the Honors Program.
On January 2015 we embarked on a voyage of discovery called Semester at Sea. Can you imagine studying on a ship while circumnavigating the globe with students from all around the world for four months? Semester at Sea gave us the opportunity to make vivid connections with students just like us while engaging with diverse cultures at the same time. While living on the ship, we got to interact daily with students, professors, families and employees forming a single community.
While having these amazing experiences aboard, we traveled to twelve different countries: Ensenada, Mexico – Hilo, Hawaii – Yokoma & Kobe, Japan – Shanghai, China – Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Singapore – Rangoon, Burma – Cochin, India – Port Louis, Mauritius – Cape Town, South Africa – Walvis Bay, Namibia – Casablanca, Morocco, and debarking in Southampton (London), England. While we traveled, we had the chance to visit important tourist sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal in India, and we even got to camp in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Apart from traveling, we did community service, visiting an orphanage in China and playing with the children. These opportunities make Semester at Sea a different kind of study abroad program. It offers every single student unique experiences that regular travelers could not have while exploring a country. It was definitely a life changing experience in which we were completely out of our comfort zone with people with different perspectives about life and with many diverse cultures, which led to amazing and endless talks.
Without a doubt, this program gave us amazing experiences academically and personally. For us, it was a privilege to be part of this study abroad program that provided us with many different values including academic excellence, integrity, and commitment; intercultural exchange; and global service. We highly recommend to all students to be part of an exchange program. Not every person gets the chance to live in other country, to make connections, and to see the world. The experience will be worth it, and it will stay with you for the rest of your life, teaching you new lessons, and even helping you find yourself. We believe every student has the opportunity to embark on new adventures for acquiring new knowledge and perspectives.