Huskies at Sea this semester
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 00:09
This semester, six UConn students will set sail for a “Semester at Sea,” receiving a global comparative education, visiting and exploring many countries and cultures on a worldwide scale.
Semester at Sea started 50 years ago, in 1963, as a way to revolutionize a global education.
More than 60,000 student passengers have been a part of the Semester at Sea program since its inception, according to the “Semester at Sea” website.
The tradition has been backed academically by the University of Virginia since its start, offering the students more than just a global cross-cultural excursion. The university appoints a dean to oversee the academics offered on each voyage, and a faculty of distinguished and cultured professors ensures the students maintain the best possible balance between academics and hands-on cultural immersion.
The UConn students aboard will be immersed in an academic and experiential whirlwind by being asked to think critically about the societies they will visit and choosing from 70 classes offered by the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences. The unique program is available to sophomores, junior and seniors at UConn with a minimum 2.75 GPA, and offers “specialized courses for study-abroad students” according to the UConn study abroad website, earning huskies transferable credit.
The students aboard will travel to 15 destinations, located on three different continents, on their journey, becoming world travelers in just one semester.
Byron Bunda, a 7th-semester UConn management major from Madison, Conn., reports that the Semester at Sea students have visited “Iceland, London and Russia” thus far, and relates the thrill of learning from within them, comparing and contrasting with the culture in the United States. His notes span from the prevalence of renewable energy in Iceland to the temperature of the average ale in a London pub. He also enjoys the change in scenery, with beautiful open seas and foreign ports as ideal backdrops for his photography class.
Bunda is thrilled to be aboard his floating university, a “590-foot Greek motor vessel named the Explorer.” He said that the “bonds [the students are] able to create in just one semester go far deeper than they do back in the comfortable familiar American university setting.” He also explains the tightness of the community aboard for the program, where it’s “not uncommon to have dinner with [shipmates] and continue conversations that started in class or just to chat with someone in the piano lounge about their experiences in port.”
His expectations for the remainder of the voyage are to “continue learning deeply about [the] ports of call and also to forge deep relationships” with shipmates, among others. Bunda candidly explains that the typical U.S. student expects his or her experience to be universal, and that “it really changes your perspective to see what other cultures value or don’t value, the issues they struggle with or don’t struggle with, and the different ways they think.”
Interested students can visit www.semesteratsea.org or the UConn study abroad website to learn more.