A sea of learning opportunities
By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer
Following in the footsteps of her mother, aunt and cousin, Rebecca Isaak (Artsci’15) spent a term sailing around the world. Enrolled in the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea (SAS) exchange program, Ms. Isaak earned course credits while travelling to places like China, India and Burma during the winter term of her third year.
Semester at Sea is a multiple country study abroad program open to students from all disciplines. The program emphasizes hands-on field experiences and engagement in the global community. Instructors often tailor course content to take advantage of the locations visited during the trip.
Because of her religions of the world class, Ms. Isaak was particularly excited about visiting India. “Before we arrived in India I was studying the Hindu deities. Getting to travel to Varanasi, one of the holiest places for Hindus, was just incredible,” she says. “The application of learning was what really made the courses come alive.”
SAS courses range from anthropology to environmental science to Shakespeare, and all courses are taught by doctorate-level educators. For each voyage, a completely new faculty is appointed. Learning isn’t restricted to the classrooms aboard the ship; faculty members typically schedule off-board educational trips to supplement content covered in class.
Holly Fortier (Com’14), who travelled with SAS in 2013, enjoyed these faculty-led trips. When the ship was headed to Hong Kong, her international business class focused on a case study about Hong Kong Disneyland. Upon arrival, the professor arranged for the students to meet with Disneyland’s park managers. They discussed park operations and the implementation of the business strategy the class had been studying.
Semester at Sea courses are similar to those offered on a traditional campus complete with essays and examinations. However, Ms. Fortier says she was blown away by what happened outside the classroom. “The amount of information I learned outside of the classroom far surpassed what I learned inside of it,” she says. “It is such a unique experience that I really believe to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The program goes much deeper than just giving students a chance to see the world. “At the heart of SAS is a desire for students to have an understanding of their global citizenship and responsibilities. It provides a fantastic chance to be surrounded by a community that seeks worldly education like no other,” she says.
More information about the program can be found on the Semester at Sea website.