Lorina Morton is a junior majoring in Communication and Creative Writing with minors in Professional Writing and Spanish. Morton participated in a
multi-country study abroad program.
Q: What sort of program did you go through?
So, I went on a program called Semester at Sea, which is exactly what it sounds
like. We spent a semester basically travelling the world from Hamburg, Germany to San Diego, California, and we lived on a boat, so whenever we were not in a country – when we were travelling to actually get to a place – we’d take classes on a ship, and that’s how the Semester at Sea thing goes. But yeah, we visited nine countries and some of them were
fairly kind of like more touristy ones and then we went to Burma, which is not a place that a lot of people could say that they took a little trip to, so it was a really interesting experience.
Q: So you had to be independent a lot of the time?
It was a lot of learning about yourself and what you like to do and what you don’t like to do. I think oftentimes when you go out in groups you’re oftentimes pressured to do things, and I was like, “When am I ever going to be in Tokyo again? I can’t miss this opportunity and not do all the things that I want to do.” So my friends had other plans, that’s cool, I’ll see you at the airport in three days! And so we all met up at the airport in three days and we all had vastly different experiences of Tokyo, but I don’t think anybody had a wrong experience. We all had different experiences and we all enjoyed what we did. I had a friend who was just like, “Yeah, we ended up meeting a musician and we hung out with him for three days straight as he did all his gigs in Tokyo,” and that’s wild! Then I had a friend who was like, “I was only here for 36 hours, and I just tried to do as much as I could.” So she was going to all the touristy sites, she was going to giant casinos that they have in Tokyo that are just like anime themed, and she was like, “I had fun.” I think at the end of the day you’ve got to ask yourself or analyze it and make sure you spent your time wisely. I think all of us would have said that we spent our time wisely even though we did vastly different things.
Q: You mentioned you made some friends. How many people went on this Semester at Sea?
Semester at Sea, student-wise, there were about 525 students, and then you also have faculty and staff who were on the ship as well. It was actually less people than Salem , so people were like, “Oh, this is so strange!” and I was like, “This is normal.” I think I had an easier time adjusting to it than a lot of other people did. There were maybe about 50 faculty and with staff about 75 total, and it was a ship that we were living on, so they also had a crew who were doing things like cleaning and cooking. Total I think there were about 750 to 800 people that were living on this boat at the same time. A really good friend that I met was from China, and it was really interesting making connections with those people, because when would I have ever met [them otherwise]? It was a predominantly American program, but we did have a decent amount of international students. We had a kid who was from the Ukraine, and he was ready to teach anyone who wanted to know Ukrainian. One of my friends was from Georgia, like the country, and so the first time I met her she was yelling at her boyfriend in Russian. It was so funny; she’s like four feet tall and super skinny but she yells very loudly.
Q: So when you weren’t in class and you weren’t exploring, was there a lot of down time on the boat that you just had to fill up?
So much down time on the ship! Because they really didn’t want people to stress, a vast majority of people, unless you got special permission, could only take four classes. And even the professors knew like, “We can’t assign you a ton of work. You’re travelling the world; you’re not going to be able to turn in decent work.” So a lot of professors were really easy on us, so we had a lot of down time, but we also had a lot of student activities too. We had a residence life team just like you would have here at a normal university; I was best friends with all of our Residential Directors. They were some of the best people that I had ever met. One of them has formally adopted me as his child.
Q: Did you have any interesting experiences with wildlife – whether you were on the ocean or in a country?
It was really interesting on the trip from Ghana to South Africa, when we were going around Africa; we saw a lot of whales, which was super cool, and they’d come up right next to the boat.
Q: What kind?
We saw there were a couple of blue whales around, and then I think one humpback whale that somebody saw. One of our professors, his name was actually Seabird – his legal name was Seabird McKeon – and he was the oceanography professor, and he would just be staring at the ocean and if you ever went there and just talked with him and you’d have a conversation and he’d go, “Right there!” and he’d point out a fish that he saw swimming and he’d name exactly what kind of fish it was and the family that the fish was from, and so he was out here looking for whales 24-7. He saw some dolphins; he could tell you how far away we were from land depending on the type of birds that we saw.
Q: It sounds like it was a really positive experience.
Thank you! Do you have any other questions?
Q: Not that I can think of, but thank you for your time and telling me about your adventures this past semester!
You’re welcome! [Laughs]