Semester at Sea was the most amazing travel experience I have ever had. It will also remain as the most unique experience, and virtually artistic community I will ever know. It is hard to imagine traveling after Semester at Sea, the sense of being alone in a country is daunting. Semester at Sea made you feel safe… your home was just docked at the port and you knew 500 people traveling through out the country. It was impossible not to bump into people, to ask them how low they got prices for and where you should go eat. Everyone on Semester at Sea was a mini version of Lonely Planet… all you had to do was ask. Kind of like a Human Book. (Which I think is totally creepy by the way, there is no way I am going to a public library to ‘read a person’ and hear about their stories. Creepy. – Unless it’s Angelina Jolie… I love her.) Anyway…
After my three and a half months were up with Semester at Sea, it didn’t end. I kept traveling… I went back to India with my momzie and roommate from Semester at Sea, where the experience was completely altered. My roommate and I were taught a whole new way to travel with SAS. The lesson was to meet as many people as possible, to talk to locals, to hear their stories to visit their homes. When you travel with non-SASers, you realize that this is quite the opposite. Non- SASers are afraid of the unknown, they stick to what they know, and rough it only as far as a hostel and meeting other travelers. Don’t get me wrong, this is wonderful too and all part of the experience, but the truth is, traveling is not worthwhile unless you meet the locals!
When you ask travelers about their trips, the first story they will tell you is about an experience they had with locals. These are the most worthwhile, this is what travel is about and it is a theory I dare all of you to explore when you travel. Meet locals, not travelers. You left home to see a whole new perspective, so why are you spending all of your time abroad talking about the same things with people from you’re home country? You need a healthy balance of both.
This is what I learned from Semester at Sea-
LESSON #1: Meet Locals, not travelers.