A Semester at Sea: Treasure and Swordfighting (neither of which are mentioned in this column)

Studying abroad is a fairly common practice among students nowadays. There are many ways to go about doing it.

There are programs from within the University, there are partner programs which connect to the University. Then there are the sketchy programs which put up flyers in GCB.

"Study in Ireland and get a paid internship!" the flashy, exciting flyer will holler at you. What it doesn't tell you is that the internship is potatoes - not peeling them, not growing them - just potatoes.

One such flyer is a flyer that advertises a "Semester at Sea."

If you're not thinking of pirates right now, there is something severely wrong with you.

Now, I don't mean to insult anyone that is considering a semester at sea or who has done it, but consider my point of view for a moment: what could one possibly experience on a semester abroad that would make one want to do it? When you study in another country you get to learn about another culture, perhaps speak a foreign language; it will be an experience which will change you forever. When you study at sea, you get... fish. Fish and motion sickness.

Many students study abroad to take advantage of the resources that one can only take advantage of when one is abroad. A French major can really only learn the language if he or she is immersed in it. Any history major would experience chills walking through any of the ruins of Ancient Greece.

That's not to say that a semester at sea would not offer you a great number of unique resources: I mean, you won't have the conveniences of the modern classroom, like computers, electricity and desks, but you will have that healthy sea air. Also, your professor presumably would say "Arr" quite often.

For research projects, you could go to the Captain's quarters and check out the library. Then when the Captain discovers you snooping around in his library, he'll cut you with his rusty old hook.

Need some extra cash on the open sea? Try work study. There are excellent opportunities for deck swabbing, hoisting the masses and avasting ye lubbers.

But what does one do for fun for an entire semester at sea? Good question. Well, if you're in for a partying mood, you can always go ashore with the crew and pillage and plunder to your heart's content. Feeling feisty? You can hoist the masses! Or if you want a nice quiet evening in the cabin, just stay in and drink yourself to sleep with a bottle of rum. And those are just three out of four mildly exciting choices! (The fourth is fishing.)

Yes, a semester at sea seems like an extraordinary waste of time and money. And speaking from absolutely no experience whatsoever, I can honestly say that it is.

Also appeared in the February 18, 2002 edition of the MU Student News.