Six Baldwin Wallace Students Embark on the Seven Seas


The “floating campus” of the Semester at Sea, the MV Explorer en route to a new port.

Nicole Salapa, Feature Editor

On Saturday, August 23, six Baldwin Wallace students set out on a journey to have an incredible semester.
The six students are currently enrolled in the study abroad program, Semester at Sea.
They will have the opportunity to visit 16 countries over the course of 108 days, while living and learning on the “floating campus,” the MV Explorer.
The program allows students to alternate between taking classes and exploring new places. The boat will dock for four days in each country, and classes end while the students explore. When they return to the ship, classes resume until the next port-of-call.
The students, at the time of writing, are almost halfway through their journey and have adjusted to life aboard.
“Over the past couple of weeks, I have gotten used to the ship, and now consider it my home,” says Mary Swiger, a junior Biology major. “It allows me to make new friends, and makes me feel like I am part of a community.”
Life on the ship is not always easy, however. Rachel Fremd, a sophomore majoring in English, describes her experience becoming accustomed to the Voyager.
“[The ship is] very rocky, seeing people walking sideways in the halls while we are trying to get our sea legs. Then when we are in port for a long time, getting back on the ship is always an experience because we have to learn how to walk down stairs, through hallways without running into each other” Fremd said.
In addition to acquiring their sea legs, students take up to 12 credit hours of classes, with an incredible range of subjects offered, from unique classes like archaeology and photography to staples like sociology and creative writing.
There are nine classrooms on the ship as well as one auditorium-style lecture hall, according to the students. Classes alternate from day-to-day when they are in session.
Most of the learning, however, happens outside of the classroom.
“You start off the trip doing a lot of tourist-like things, but by the fourth port you become far more interested in what the locals are doing, which is fascinating because you become more inclined to visit beaches, take hikes, or visit medieval cities compared to a huge monuments or well-known towers,” says Kaitlin Moore, a sophomore Film Studies major.
“I ziplined in Portugal,” says Swiger. “While ziplining, I was able to go through a castle and its walls, as well as see breathtaking views of the city of Sintra in Portugal itself.  I was able to see a wide variety of trees, as well as the beautiful scenery that encompasses Portugal itself.”
The other students have had interesting experiences, too. Moore has seen strippers advertising using umbrellas and had a man throw himself to his knees for her in France. Fremd went swimming in the Atlantic in the dead of night.
Juggling classes, new friends, people back home, adjusting to sea life, and exploring the world can be difficult but these students manage, all of them remarking that the experience is worth it.
“The environment is so different but no matter what, the ship at the end of the day becomes your home. The ship isn’t just a place to sleep or to take classes. It’s your campus and house all in one, and every day moves by so quickly that every minute needs to be cherished.” says Moore.
Pictures of their adventures, as well as those of the students from other schools, can be seen on Instagram under the hashtag #SASfa14 and the Semester at Sea Twitter and Facebook. More information can also be found at the Study Abroad office on the second floor of the Strosacker Student Union.