Study Abroad: Semester at Sea

Cornell Engineering student EmilySemester at Sea: Canals and the Atlantic

In Fall 2019, I made the best decision of my life and joined Semester at Sea (SAS), a study abroad voyage of discovery. In my time there, I visited the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Morocco, Ghana, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. We would have classes while sailing at sea and then dock at a port for 3-6 days. In that time, we did not have classes and could go anywhere in the country as long as we made it back on the ship before it set sail.

A normal day out at sea involved the usual classes and homework, but also navigating an entire SAS ecosystem: the time zone shifts every week, sticky notes are the new text, and ping pong becomes significantly harder. Being confined on the ship with very limited internet, I was amazed at the friendships I got to make. I had heard before going abroad that I would cherish the friends I made as well as the adventures, but I did not realize how true that would be. And when we docked in a new country, plans adapted to the country. Some of my favorite port memories include riding a camel in the Sahara, snorkeling in the Galapagos, and hang gliding over Rio.

Cornell Engineering student EmilyI had my sights set on Semester at Sea for some time as it is such a unique study abroad program with a wide variety of locations to visit. However, I doubted if I could fit it in with my engineering curriculum or if I wanted to make the leap of leaving the comfort of Cornell. But the flexibility of liberal studies and outside technical electives meant I could make progress towards graduating on time. And I have no regrets in having chosen to pursue it. I would highly recommend study abroad as an engineer as you get new experiences from the places you visit and the people you meet.

—Emily, electrical and computer engineering