Åse Rustad Kvisberg, RCN graduate from 2013, was selected to participate in the ‘Semester at Sea‘ programme. This opportunity, for one UWC student from each College, is sponsored by Shelby Davis. This is Åse’s report:
Semester At Sea is an extraordinary experience with immense potential for participants. It offers a broad scope of classes, amazing itineraries and a large, whilst intimate, community. I cannot say that this voyage has affected me more than my time at RCN, nothing probably ever will, but it has complemented my UWC experience in various of ways. At RCN I was exposed to an incredible range of cultures and SAS has enabled me to physically visit many of these. Through my engagement with the countries I have visited though this voyage, I have benefited greatly from the cultural sensitivity and respect that the intercultural diversity at RCN taught me.
Semester At Sea is in many cases portrayed as an enjoyable traveling experience, which is true, but the programme is in theory equally academic. I am taking four classes which are college-level subjects, with regular quizzes, essays and exams. Just as in any other situation each individual chooses how much to commit; so the level of participation and dedication from my classmates varies. Never the less, the academic situation is very similar to that of RCN; I live very close to my teachers and the teachers are very dedicated to their subjects. Another great thing about SAS is that the subjects are supposed to be angled towards the countries on the itinerary, which makes it possible to apply most of what I learn all the time!
The social life and living situation at SAS is just as intense as at RCN. We are living in fairly small cabins with another randomly selected person, and are constantly surrounded by the other 1000 passengers and we have very restricted space. The voyage is also intense; academics, social life and traveling – especially during intense legs of the voyage with only two days between ports. I have met just as many amazing people as I did at RCN and I have had a splendid time connecting with my UWC co-years and meeting UWC alumni in port.
I have felt that SAS has provided me with larger cultural challenges than RCN. I am living in a fully American context, so I have had to understand, accept and adapt to this – which has both been interesting and challenging (a general consensus among the UWC students).
For me it all comes down to personal effort. You can slack off as some students do or you can take advantage of the absolutely extraordinary experience SAS offers; live on a ship for four months in the ultimate academic village, learn a huge amount about the countries you are visiting, experience diverse and fascinating cultures and ultimately have an incredibly nice time!