A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.


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Embark Ensenada Mexico
Hilo, Hawaii
Yokohama/Tokyo, Japan
Kobe, Japan
Shanghai, China
Hong Kong
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Rangoon, Myanmar (Burma)
Cochin (Kochi), India
Port Luois, Mauritius
Cape Town, South Africa
Tema (Accra), Ghana
Takoradi, Ghana
Casablanca, Morocco
Debark Southampton (London) United Kingdom
Travel through UK and Ireland for two weeks

Our academic calendar

Posted by juliaaugh 17:32 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Daily schedule

Every day at sea is a school day, and there are about 60 sea-days in total. In addition to the schedule below, I will be working with the fundraising coordinator for two hours every day.

A Days:
8:00 - 9:15 Breakfast
(9:15 - 11:30 Free time)
11:30 - 1:00 Lunch
1:00 - 2:15 Architecture of Asia and Africa
(2:15 - 3:50 Free time)
3:50 - 5:10 Environmental Politics
5:30 - 7:30 Dinner

B days
8:00 - 9:15 Breakfast
9:25 - 10:40 Human Sexuality
(10:40 - 11:30 Free time)
11:30 - 1:30 Lunch
(1:30 - 3:50 Free time)
3:50 - 5:10 Development Economics
5:30 - 7:30 Dinner

Posted by juliaaugh 17:08 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Some questions I get a lot

How big is the boat?/How many students?

We will be on the MV explorer which is a remodeled cruise ship. It has nine classrooms, three places to eat, a small gym, a pool, a library, and a health clinic. I think the ship holds about a thousand people, 500-700 are students, then there are a few life long learners (non-student participants), the faculty, staff, and their families, and the crew.

Do you take classes on land or on the ship?

We take classes while on the ship between each port. When we are in port we are set free for a few days and just have to be back on board by the time the ship leaves. We can travel anywhere within that country, or we can make day trips into the city while sleeping and eating on ship.

How did you decided to do Semester at Sea?

I knew that I wanted to study abroad, but I couldn't pick a country. When I learned more about SAS I decided I should visit 11+ countries!

Is it more difficult to study abroad through an outside program, rather than through the UC Education Abroad Program?

In some ways yes, but I will be able to transfer my credits and financial aid, its just a little more paperwork.

Are you getting course credit for your classes?

Yes, I am very pleased that the Environmental Studies major at UCSB allows us to take a wide variety of courses with any outside program and apply them to the major. I cannot get pre-aproved for the classes, but I will be collected all course materials so that when I return to UCSB I can petition the classes.

Is it expensive?

It is more expensive than UCSB but I am very lucky, and very grateful, that I am receiving financial aid. I also saved up some money, received some generous gifts from my extended family (thank you), and I have a work study position that is helping me make this possible.

Do you have internet on the ship?

No. Well, we have some access. We have email, wikipedia, and a few news websites.

How do you stay in contact?

I will have unlimited access to email while on board. Please email me! I want to know whats going on back home, and I would love to hear from anyone and everyone! Juliaaugh@gmail.com

Do you know anyone else going?

Nope, but I have met two people from UCSB, one is going as a student, and the other is a resident director.

How much are you bringing?

One suitcase and the backpack I use for school. We are allowed more, but because I want to travel around for two weeks after the voyage ends, I have challenged myself to fit everything in one suitcase. (My current packing list is three pages long, so wish me luck!)

What is your cabin like?

Very small. Most likely I will have an inside double with two beds, a closet, and a bathroom. You don't want to know how much a window costs. And I won't know who my roommate is until I board. For those that love boats, check out the virtual tour of the ship http://www.semesteratsea.org/our-ship/deck-plans/

When do you leave?/How long are you gone?

I leave for San Diego on January 9th. On the 10th we are bused down to Ensenada and the ship embarks. The program ends 16 weeks later on May 2nd, and then I will be spending another two weeks traveling independently in the UK and Ireland.

Still curious? Check out the website http://www.semesteratsea.org/voyages/spring-2014/

Posted by juliaaugh 20:27 Comments (1)


I gave up on packing only one suitcase after I filled the first one up and had yet to pack any clothes or shoes. With 4 textbooks, a blanket, a beach towel, and more pepto than you have ever seen in your life, I pretty much have no room for clothes. But I'm sure I'll buy more clothes along the way. Three days until I leave!

NEED PACKING TIPS? http://juliaaugh.travellerspoint.com/52/

Posted by juliaaugh 20:20 Comments (2)

My Cabin

I was randomly upgraded to a room with a window (room 2001)! But I was so excited to get to my room that I didn't even notice the window at first. We are on the lowest passenger deck which means we have less rocking. Even so, its amusing to see a group of people walk down the hallway and all sway left... and then right...and left again. Hopefully we will have our sea legs before Hawaii. I have seen countless people get sick from the motion, but luckily I was only a little nauseous last night. My bed is on the left, and my roommate, Mellisa's bed is on the right. Shes from Ohio, and goes to Kent University. But I don't know much else about her because she has been sleeping off the sea-sickness since we disembarked. I'm sure we will get to know each other very well in the next few weeks.

Posted by juliaaugh 21:36 Comments (1)


Unfortunately it looks like I can’t send picture over email to my blog, but I will try to upload a few when we are in port. Anyway, the only thing I have to take pictures off is water.

Also if you comment on my blog I will receive an email prompting me to "approve" your comment, but I don't have internet so I can't actually see your comment or approve it so it won't shows up on my blog. I love to hear from everyone, but just email instead (juliaaugh@gmail.com)

Most everyone has recovered from being sea sick now, but I hear we can get land sick! I guess if you get too used to being on the ocean, the land can feel very strange. But I wouldn’t say I’m used to the motion yet. Its kinda like being in a fun-house 24/7. One of the strangest feelings is going up the stairs and feeling incredibly light for a few steps and then very heavy for a few more as the ship bobs up and down. Last night we hit a little rough patch and stuff was falling off our night stand and desk all night. I’m kinda looking forward to a storm. Being on the second deck means that the waves are right below our window, it feels like I could step right out into them.

I started work study today and I will be working to increase enrollment on the next two voyages, as well as increase donations to SAS as part of my job as an Alumni Development Assistant. There are eight other students along with our leader and his fiance, its a fun group!

Classes have been going well too, and I'm meeting so many new people!

Fun fact: the MV Explorer (our ship) is the fastest cruise ship in the world! (But we will never go that because it wastes a lot of fuel).

Posted by juliaaugh 00:16 Comments (0)

My cabin, room 2001

I guess I can send pictures late at night when no one else is on the intranet!


Posted by juliaaugh 00:21 Comments (0)


Yesterday morning I woke up from the sound of things falling off my desk as the ship slowed down to enter port. The slower we go the more the waves rock the ship. I also heard whale noises! I’m not the only one that thinks it was the whales, but it could have the ship or something, I should find out. But when we got up on deck there were whales! And LAND! It was beautiful watching the moon set over the volcano as the sun came up on the other side of the ship.

We went to Walmart and Starbucks to get a few things and use the wifi. We were all horribly dizzy from being on firm land. I think we are so used to constantly shifting our balance that when we got on land we still swayed back and forth, and couldn’t sit still.

We didn’t have any set plans for the day, so we hopped in a taxi and asked him where to go. He took us to Coconut Island where you could take a walking-bridge out to a island that had remnants of what might have been some kind of fort. We jumped off a platform, and took lots of pictures with my underwater camera. The water was so warm. After, we walked along the beach and explored the downtown area before heading back to the ship.

Posted by juliaaugh 15:26 Comments (0)

Hawaii pictures





Posted by juliaaugh 15:46 Comments (1)

Ship Life

Most days I get up on the early side because of the constant time changes. In the next ten days we are crossing 5 time zones, so every other night we get an extra hour of sleep. Sometimes I’ll join the Crossfit group in the morning, or run on one of the ellipticals with an ocean view. And breakfast is the best meal of the day, so I’m always up early for that.

Every morning I do two hours of work study. We don’t have an office, so we just gather in one of the common areas and work on different projects. Right now we are making table tents with fun facts about SAS, and putting together a jeopardy game about SAS. I like all of my coworkers, and our leader is great too.

My classes have been going well so far, I have only been assigned reading, but I’m sure we will get bigger projects soon.

In the evening there are a few optional lectures. I attended two last night, one was on how to do SAS on a budget, and the other was about Japanese culture and history. It was presented by a very soft-spoken, yet very funny, Japanese woman who joined SAS in Hawaii, and will be getting off in Tokyo.

Every evening after the lectures there is a dance class. Day before yesterday was “cardio dance,” last night was Salsa, and tonight is hip-hop. Each is taught by one or two students. I said I would teach Line Dancing one night. Afterwards there are snacks and pub-night, where everyone gathers to socialize.

Posted by juliaaugh 18:46 Comments (0)

Waves, Travel Plans, and my Extended Family

Yesterday the rocking was at its worst. I came to dinner to find all my friends eating standing up, I asked them why, and they said that it was the only way to keep their food on their plates. I had just missed one particularly big wave that cause people to tip over in their chairs, and food to go sliding off the tables. So I joined them standing for dinner. The waves have been spalshing our window on the second deck, so the crew shut the door that covers the port hole and locked it. It makes our room so dark, and I really enjoyed watching the waves, but I guess there's a risk that the waves could break our window. That's scary. Today the waves are a lot smaller, so I hope they open the window back up soon.

I'm looking forward to Japan. The first three nights we are spending in a capsule-style hostel. There are probably eight or more people I know staying at the same place, but we will most likely split up for sight-seeing. We are going to a cat-cafe, a karaoke bar, the fish market, and explore all the neighborhoods within Tokyo. Then we are going to an Onsen (bathhouse) on our way to Kyoto. We are going to spend a night or two in Kyoto seeing the traditional temples and gardens. Then we will head back to the ship in Kobe. Only two days later later we will be in Shanghai. I haven't finalized my China plans, but I think I'm going to Beijing to see the Great Wall, and zip-line off of it. Vietnam, Singapore, and Myanmar are only separated by a few days at sea, but I have no idea what I am doing in any of these countries, so I would love some suggestions! (email me, Juliaaugh@gmail.com. Don't comment on the blog, I won't get it).

I'm off to meet my "extended family" for dinner! We were put into groups with professors or life long learners about a week ago. I'm with a history professor from Vasser, his wife, and 13 year old daughter. And there are four other students in my family, three of them I already knew pretty well. Its a really fun bunch, and we have dinner every now and again. We may challenge another family to a game night soon, or maybe do something together in a port!

Posted by juliaaugh 00:26 Comments (0)

I love Tokyo

Left to right: Jules from Chicago, Chips from Argentina, Kiki from Southern California, and me!


Posted by juliaaugh 05:11 Comments (0)

Pictures from Japan









Posted by juliaaugh 02:36 Comments (0)

Japan Travels

First stop Tokyo! We stayed at a hostel with at least 50 or 60 other SAS students. It was capsule style, so we each had our own little wooden cubicle. That night we explored the area close to the hostel. The next morning we got up at 4:30am to go to the fish market where we met up with a few other friends and had sushi for breakfast. That afternoon we went to the Harajuku district that you might know from the Gwen Stafani song. We shopped, and people-watched, some of the locals dress up like dolls. The picture of me sitting on the panda is from Harajuku. Then we went to the Anime district which felt the most "Japanese" to me, and less like any other big city. There were lots of big Japanese advertisements, video game centers and electronics shops. That night we found a bar with Australian travelers and middle-aged Japanese women. Interesting mix, but everyone was very nice and we had a good time.
In Tokyo we discovered some of our favorite foods. We could not pass up a 7-eleven without someone wanting a snack or treat. The dumplings were my favorite. There was meat dumplings, pizza dumplings, and chocolate dumplings. The strange candies and chocolates from 7-eleven were really fun to try as well. Another one of our favorite places to eat where these vending machine restaurants (picture of me with rice bowl and soup). We would put our money in a machine and push a button for whatever dish we wanted, then it would spit out a ticket that we would hand to a waiter, and our food would come sixty seconds later. You could get rice and meat bowls, Japanese curry, and soups. We tried them all! Throughout Tokyo and Kyoto we kept running into SASers, somehow 550 students were able to take over all of Japan. China's a lot bigger, so we may not run into as many there.

Day three we traveled to Kyoto and found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant (picture of noodles and savory pancakes). The men next to us bought us two bottles of wine, showed us pictures of their daughters, and gave us these little stickers that we think have their daughter's names on them. They called them "name cards." We found a small club in Kyoto where a few Japanese girls we celebrating one of their 21st birthdays. Spending time with locals really made Kyoto special. The next morning we went to a pagoda (pictured) and a pathway of Toriis (picture of Jules taking a picture from the outside of the path). On our way back we toured a sake museum/brewery. Then we went to a bath house. We knew that we had to shower before we could get in the water, but when we tried to step into the pools, the women who were already bathing sent us back to keep showering. Then we tried to get in again, and they sent us back to the shower even more! They must have thought that we were very dirty. There was a whole ritual with pouring water on yourself before getting in the baths, and we made the big mistake of dipping our towels in the water. There were five different pools, one had an electric current. The women laughed at us when they saw our faces as we jumped in and jumped right back out again. We tried to be as respectful as possible, but we had no idea what we were doing.

That night we took a train to Osaka but we didn't have a hostel so we walked around looking for a place, and finally a hostel said we could sleep in their staff lounge. We were a little hesitant, but it was great. They made one huge matted area for all five of us, and we stayed up talking because we were too tiered to go out. In Osaka we visited the Osaka Castle. One of my favorite experience of Japan was meeting these three girls who were twelve years old and trying to find their way to a fountain. We had passed by a fountain a while back so we said we would show them the way. They spoke more English than most of the poeple we had met in Japan, but even so we could only communicate a few things. At one point Kiki used some scented hand sanitizer and the three girls thought it was absolutely amazing, so she gave the bottle to them. They were so thrilled!

I have class today and tomorrow, and then we arrive in China!

Posted by juliaaugh 21:56 Comments (0)

China and Hong Kong










Posted by juliaaugh 00:46 Comments (0)

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