I have been studying abroad on a ship for more than three months now, and in this time, I have traveled to The Netherlands, Portugal, Morocco, Spain, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, Kenya, and India. While we sail to our disembarkation port, I figured this would be a perfect time to reflect on the amazing experiences I have had.
First, I want to note how the students and friends around me have contributed an immense amount to my learning. Our students are not only from across America, but also from across the world. We have students from Mexico, Venezuela, Norway, Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Columbia, and Nepal just to name a few. Through the friendships that developed, there was a great deal of cultural exchange. The most striking thing to me was how many non-U.S. people often speak two or three or even four languages fluently. Importantly, these friends helped raise my awareness of issues that take place outside of the U.S. and with a non-U.S. perspective. My global learning would not have been complete if it were not for these amazing friends.
Next, the experiences in the countries I visited were incredible. I wish I could share everything, but I’ll focus on the most meaningful one I had. In Morocco, I went on a three-day program where host families welcomed us into their homes and cooked us meals. It was my first time truly being immersed in another culture, and it was beautiful. We talked about many things and realized how similar we are to each other. This was really shown when on one of the mornings we were supposed to go on a hike, but due to rain, we had to stay in. Instead, we decided to play card games. It was such a great time. They taught us some of their games, we taught them some of ours, and everyone was laughing together.
Now, I am starting to pack away things in preparation to return home. I’m realizing I bought a few too many souvenirs and am wondering how I’ll be fitting everything into my luggage. It’s weird that I’ll soon have to say goodbye to this room when it feels I just got here. But I’m excited for the next group of voyagers to come on the ship and have the same life-changing experiences as I did.