7 Reasons why you can’t miss the Homecoming Voyage

The Semester at Sea Homecoming Voyage is happening again this year and I’ve been badgering my SAS friends to come. I don’t know everyone and we’re all #millennials so here’s a lil’ Buzzfeed-style listicle you can share with your friends to cajole them into attending. #contentmarketing

#1 Alcohol


Remember how you spent all your time on SAS talking about alcohol? When’s the next pub night? Who snuck booze onto the ship? How did they get it on? There were HOW many people in the drunk tank last port?! blah blah blah.

Well, this time you’re invited to come party on the ship, Party with DJ Leopard and drink as much as you damn well please!

new years eve
Let me see your drink card. Psych! #popbottles

#2 Old Shipmates



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Reconnect with a friend or two. There will be people from your voyage on the ship. They might not have been your best friends or your future bridesmaids but you’ll still have plenty to reminisce about, like meeting Desmond Tutu, or what happened in Mauritius, or Cuba, or when we crossed the ocean…

#3 The crew


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The crew talent show was a performance of a lifetime! #sas #sasfa15 #studyabroad #studyatsea #StaySASsy #SASForever #crew

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Speaking of familiar faces, there’s the crew! Besides the fact that they’re all awesome human beings, a lot of them are lifers. I’ve been back to the ship at least four times since my voyage and it’s amazing how many of the same crewmembers are still with the program. Come and find an old favorite, make friends with your new cabin steward, and of course, there’s going to be a crew talent show!

#4 Old friends you haven’t met yet


You won’t know most of the people on the Homecoming Voyage and that’s a good thing. We’re not trying to recreate the magic of our voyage. We’re here to join with others who had the same life altering experience, celebrate the new year, and support the program. By the end of it, though, these people can almost become as special to you as your shipmates. The connection you share with another SASer isn’t the same as “Oh my gosh you also like drinking beer after doing yoga?” The connection is so deep that you form a bond with new friends very fast.

#5 New Years is already expensive


At the time of writing, the cheapest cabin available is $675 per person. Some of you might think, “Wow that’s a lot of money for one day in Mexico.” Let’s address this first. If the goal was to get to Mexico from San Diego, the SAS Reunion Voyage would rank the least cost effective method besides maybe flying private (Can I get a USD kid to fact check that, please? #jokes). The fact that the ship goes to Ensenada is just because we need some place foreign to park this bad boy. We can’t just go float in the ocean and come back to SD because laws.

The SAS reunion voyage is all about the experience of reconnecting with the most transformative  experience of your life (pre-Trump). You get to do that for five action-packed days, and support the program. That’s good value for money on a regular day, but considering that half of us lose our minds on New Years ($50 cover to get into a bar that normally has $2 beers. wtf is wrong with you people!?) that makes this experience a great New Years Eve value.

#6 Support the cause


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In case you forgot, it’s really ‘spensive to have a cruise ship full of college students that sails around the world almost year-round. There once were some alumni who supported the program so that you could have a Semester at Sea. Now it’s your turn to be one of those alumni.

#7 This is our moment, people


I’m not going to say that this is the last homecoming voyage (although as far as anyone knows, it is. Last chance, people!) but I will say that if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve reached peak SAS reunion. The first couple years after SAS most people are too young and broke to fly to San Diego and do something like this (Although, S18, if you can afford it, I’ll see you on board!). Now most of us have decent jobs and it’s actually feasible for us to make this happen if we want it to. Meanwhile, more and more of you are popping out babies, which means where money used to be the constraint, the practicality of dragging your S.O. and your offspring along with you will start to limit potential turnout. So what do you say? As everyone’s favorite SAS alumnus likes to say, “Let’s hit it!”

DJ Leopard

Click here for the official Reunion Voyage website

105 days.

It’s been 105 days since I left the MV Explorer. I have now been away from Semester at Sea for as long as I was on Semester at Sea. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. Many people, including myself, wondered if the impact of Semester at Sea would stay with us, or whether the memories would fade, the pictures lose their breathtaking quality, the memories stop inspiring, and life to move on like usual. I feel like today is an appropriate day to address whether that has actually happened or not.

Like most things, it’s not as cut and dry as either remembering SAS or not remembering SAS. Of course, simply put, I remember SAS. How can a person ever forget jumping off a skyscraper in Macau, or jumping on to a ferryboat in India? The events that unfolded will stay with me. Obviously, the subtleties have faded. I reread my blog posts and remember the price I paid for lunch in Mauritius, or how many sunglasses I bought in Accra. My mentality on larger themes of Semester at Sea hasn’t changed at all though.

I have returned to appreciating the material comforts of home. My cell phone has once again become an appendage to my body, and on weekends I wallow about in my full size bed in my private bedroom. However, thinking on a larger scale, I still benefit from the independence and flexibility I gained from my semester abroad. When my iPhone dies in rural Massachusetts and I don’t have a charger, I don’t fret in the slightest. If plans change and I need to spend the night somewhere I didn’t plan on sleeping, it’s not a crisis. The confidence and resourcefulness that I gained from traveling independently overseas remain vital life skills.

My discontent with the world’s inequality has also remained with me. The difference is, instead of being upset to see how little people have overseas, remembering how much people at home have, I am now upset to see how much people at home have, remembering how little people have overseas. I have been fortunate enough to benefit from some awesome experiences this summer, for which I am very gracious, however, the contrast in ways and means between different groups of people bothers me. I don’t assign much blame to individuals besides those who I believe are champions of policies that increase inequality, but I do feel frustrated with “the system.” Semester at Sea has inspired me to do much more to help others, both here and abroad, to achieve the freedom and quality of life that I myself enjoy.

Although the sensations of the humidity in the Amazon and the fragrance of cherry blossoms in Kyoto has faded in my memory, my sense of these places remains with me. The “World” section of the New York Times is no longer full of unheard of cities and far away continents that exist only as an abstraction in my mind. Instead, these are places just like the ones I’ve traveled to, or in many cases, places I’ve actually been. The difference this makes between skimming over a seemingly irrelevant article and getting involved in a global cause is profound. I can no longer put my head into the sand or stay within my bubble. I have permanently become a member of our global society, and although I might be distant from the troubles and triumphs of faraway lands I now recognize what a interconnected planet we live on.

Part of my newly realized life in a interconnected world is embracing different viewpoints. I’d like to think that I was never “close-minded” or I wouldn’t have undertaken such a diverse and wide-reaching adventure in the first place, but Semester at Sea has definitely given me a new-found appreciation for diversity. 105 days after Semester at Sea, I am more compassionate about the shooting in a Sikh temple and I am more disdainful towards Chick-fil-a than I was before my voyage. On Semester at Sea I witnessed so many different styles of living and although I am no longer awoken by the Muslim call to prayer at dawn and my tongue has fully recovered from the scorch of Vietnamese cuisine I have realized that we cannot continue as collective world undermining the choices each of us make about how to live our lives.

My lust for travel has not wavered since debarkation. Since then I’ve done my homework and I realize it isn’t feasible for me to spend another semester at sea (darn it), but I am pursuing other channels through which to see the world. This fall I will apply to spend the Spring 2013 semester in Hyderabad, India, and it is my hope that I might be able to supplement it with either some backpacking over winter break or an internship overseas after the semester is through.

In terms of my Semester at Sea family, the outcome has been as I had expected. There are a few people that I remain in regular contact with, and there are also others that I remain in touch with occasionally when I happen to be in their area or they in mine. The Semester at Sea alumni tree has already borne fruit for me, as I made a new SAS friend at the New York City welcome home/ bon voyage reception. Semester at Sea draws together a group of similarly open minds, and even if you do not benefit from the experience of a voyage spent together, the common interest in becoming a global citizen can easily serve as a sufficient platform to build a new relationship.

My connection to Semester at Sea continues to thrive, not only through my friendships but also my continued involvement with the program. During my voyage I benefited enormously from the financial support of alumni who came before me, and although as a college student I am not able to support others in the same way I was supported, I am giving back my inspiring future voyagers through the Global Ambassadors program. Global Ambassadors is also keeping my SAS memories alive.

And so 105 days later, long after the clothes have been put away and pasta and potatoes have become appealing again, Semester at Sea lives on inside of me, and I’m willing to bet if you check back with me in 1,005 days I will feel the same way.