First Impressions – What were your first impressions when you arrived in your host country? What thoughts were running through your head? How did you feel? What situations/experiences did you encounter when you first arrived? What was new/different/interesting? What is your first picture that you took abroad?
I was able to travel to 12 different countries, so my first impressions where kind of different for all them. The first country I visited was after we left London was Italy. My first impression was that it was a beautiful country. When I first got their I encountered racism. The first picture I took abroad was in London England of my hostel.
Favorite Thing about Host Location – There are many reasons we fall in love with the place we study abroad. What’s your favorite thing about your host location (i.e., the food, the people, etc.)? Why? What makes it special? What will you miss most when you’re gone?
My favorite country was Croatia. When we docked in Dubrovnik, Croatia I was very amazed by its beauty. The first day I had a field lab. A field lab was a field trip associated with the classes we took and was required to attend. Our class went to the war museum. The war museum depicted the history of the Croatian Independence from the former Yugoslavia from 1991-1995. Our tour guide family fled the country to stay out of harm’s way. What amazed me the most about the things my tour guide was saying was that she focused more on the bravery of the Croatian soldiers and not so much on the destruction happening. Everything from the people, beaches and food was near perfect in Croatia. It is a place I will visit again in the future.
Academics – What’s it like taking classes while abroad? Who are your classmates? What are the major differences between the system of education you’re used to and what are the major similarities? What’s it like taking classes from a different world view? What adjustments have you had to make?
It was hard taking classes while abroad. We would be in a country for four to six days then back at sea for two-four days then in a country again. It was very hard at first to keep up with readings and other assignments. On the second half of the trip I started doing most of my homework and readings in the country I was visited to stay on top of everything.
Excursions – Traveling to new locations is often one of the most exciting parts of the study abroad experience! What trips are you taking/have you taken to sites other than where you’re studying abroad? What did you see? What did you do? Who went with you? Why did you choose those particular locations?
The Locals – Meeting new people from the host country is a guarantee while abroad. Who all have you met from your host town/country? What are they like? Where do they live? What do they do? What are the major differences between the locals and yourself? What do you find interesting/unique about them? Describe them!
The Language – What is the language of your host country? What language barriers have you faced? What funny misunderstandings have occurred? What are you doing to learn the host language? If the language is the same, is the accent different? What unique phrases are common?
The Five Senses – Describe your study abroad experience using your five senses. What do you see, taste, hear, smell and feel?
Preparing to Return Home – Now that it’s almost time to return home, what steps are you taking to get ready? What items have you collected on your travels that you’ll be taking home with you? What thoughts or feelings are you having? Are they similar/different than when you first arrived?
Top 5 combine in this essay
My study abroad trip was very life changing, difficult and humbling. It was challenging too. I was bless to be able to travel to 13 cities in 11 countries across three continents
From the moment I landed at London Heathrow Airport I was culture shocked. For several years of my schooling I learned about William Shakespeare and the impact of the Globe Theater. I was fortunate enough to see a Shakespeare play at the Globe.
The second country on our itinerary was Italy. We docked in Civitavecchia first then Naples Italy. People had a hard time pronouncing it. I was bless to be able to see the wonders of Rome such as the Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Roman Forum, and Pantheon. I also visited Vatican City, where I saw the Sistine Chapel. I also visited Florence and witnessed the statue of David. I was fortunate enough to eat the first pizzeria in the world. All in all Italy was a very beautiful country, but underneath all that long history and beauty it is a very dark and racist country. I traveled with eight black people including myself doing this trip. We had Wi-Fi turned off on us in two different gelato shops. Italians people kept calling us “Africano”. This was partly due to their history of racism towards non Italians and the influx of Africans coming to the country. On several occasions we were denied entrance into upscale clubs, lounges and other establishments because of the color of our skin color.
Our third country on our voyage was supposed to be Turkey. That was cancelled because of the terrorism present in the country. Semester at Sea replaced Turkey with Croatia. Everyone including myself was very upset about this and did not know what to expect. I had never heard of Croatia and did not know what to expect. When we docked in Dubrovnik, Croatia I was very amazed by its beauty. The first day I had a field lab. A field lab was a field trip associated with the classes we took and was required to attend. Our class went to the war museum. The war museum depicted the history of the Croatian Independence from the former Yugoslavia from 1991-1995. Our tour guide family fled the country to stay out of harm’s way. What amazed me the most about the things my tour guide was saying was that she focused more on the bravery of the Croatian soldiers and not so much on the destruction happening. Everything from the people, beaches and food was near perfect in Croatia. It is a place I will visit again in the future.
The two day journey between Croatia and our fourth country Piraeus, Greece, went by very quickly. Because of my love for Alexander the Great and Greek mythology, Greece was a country I was looking forward too. I visited the Acropolis Museum and the actual Acropolis. My friends and I shared an authentic Greek family dinner. I was able to expand upon my knowledge of both Alexander the Great and Greek Mythology. For two days I visited the famous Santorini Island. I saw the famous blue top roofs buildings and the famous black sand beach. Every morning I woke up and looked out from my ship I could see Syrian refugees. I learned a lot about them before I came on the voyage, but to actually see them in person was both breath taking and life changing.
The fifth country was Spain. We went to two port cites; Valencia and Barcelona. In both port cities I did a lot of shopping. I also learned a lot about how Barcelona (Catalonia) wants to break apart from Spain and be its own country. I could feel and see the tension. I really have a deep respect for the Spanish culture.
Casablanca, Morocco was our sixth stop. I looked forward to visiting the continent of Africa the most. At first glance Morocco seem very European. I was able to visit the Hassan II Mosque. It is the largest mosque in Africa and the third largest in the world. Up until this point all our country we have been to was Christian, in particular Catholic. Since Morocco is a very strict Islamic country we had rules that must be followed. We had to dress very conservative, which was fine with me. For my field lab in Philosophy of Poverty we went to see the slums of Sidid Moumen and to the Sidi Moumen Cultural Center. I have witnessed poverty before, but never on the level as there. It was really said and depressing to see the homes they live in. This area is very dangerous and crime is on the rise. The area is home to the past terrorist who have struck the area in the last decade. The government is trying to reduce poverty and crime by building new apartments for the people in the area. The Sidi Moumen Cultural Center was started by Mr. Boubker Mazoz. It was started in response to the terrorist attacks in the area. The center is a combination of America’s Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother Big Sister. The youth their come from diverse background. One thing I love about the center is they teach the children three languages; Arabic, English and French. I also visited Marrakech, which is where the old Medina is at. I got my first hand experience at making deals. At first I was not good but eventually I got better and made some great deals. In Marrakech my friends and I faced racism. On several occasions we were called Obama, Rasta and arrogant a** Americans. I was not expected to face racism in Africa but it happened.
Senegal our eighth stop was the Africa I was looking forward to. Immediately when my friends and I exited the port we were surrounded by people saying welcome home brother and sisters. It was very overwhelming. I was glad to be around people who look like me but I also wanted some time to take it all in. I was able to visited Gorée Island off the coast of Dakar. Gorée Island is home to the House of Slaves. The House of Slaves housed slaves before they were sent to the Americas in the Triangle of Trade. In the House of Slaves is the Door of No Return. The Door of No Return was the last things slaves saw before they departed for the Americas. When I stood in the door, I felt the pain of my ancestor. I began to weep because they never came back, but God allowed me to come this place. I was very emotional the whole time on Gorée Island. For the first time during both the voyage and life, I felt truly privileged in Senegal. No one was judging me because of the color of skin, I receive special future among other things. People were complaining about being taken advantage of and things, but in my mind I was saying that black people had to deal with that not only during this voyage in Europe but in life as well.
Crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Dakar Senegal to our ninth port Salvador, Brazil was emotional because it was emotional because we were taking the same route my ancestors took coming to America. Here I question were exactly my ancestors are from in Africa. I will be taking a DNA test to find this out. Brazil is home to the most black people outside of Africa. Salvador, Brazil was the first stop slaves were taken to after leaving Gorée Island. Salvador was about ninety percent black. I went to a lot of cultural museums here. In Brazil I also visited Rio de Janeiro. In Rio I visited the Christ Redeemer statue.
We went through the Panama Canal on the way to our tenth port Trinidad and Tobago. We ported in the Port of Spain. Trinidad and Tobago felt the most Americanized out of all the countries I visited. We were only there one full day so I was not able to fully enjoy the cultural. We did go to a festival put on specifically for Semester at Sea which was fun.
Our last port was Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Costa Rica is known for zip lining. So that’s what my friends did as well as an ATV tour which was fun. We also stayed at a resort for two days. At this point in the voyage it was coming to an end and I did not want it too. It seem like I was just in Europe and now I am in the last country before I get back to America.
Before I came on the voyage people said I was going to be living the suite life of Zack and Cody and on a constant vacation. At times it felt like I was on vacation but it was more of a learning experience for me. One of the most challenging things was adjusting to being in a country for four to six days then leave to be at sea for two to four days then back in a country. For the first half of the voyage this is what happened and because of this it was hard to adjust to classes. We had limited Wi-Fi and had to pay for phone cards to call home. To complete papers we relied heavily the free sites that was available and getting information from the internet while in port and books. I am also a planner but on this voyage I learned how to relax and go with the flow. I also learned how to be patient more. This was an experience I hope go help other African American students to pursue. They do not necessarily do Semester at Sea but I would like to see an increase in African American student abroad.