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Open Letter

By Michelle Cox

To Future Semester at Sea participants:

     Throughout my three months abroad, traveling around the world, I have learned so much about global issues and even discovered new things about myself.   However, the biggest challenge of the voyage was keeping an open mind, allowing myself to experience something new and understanding new ideas and others' opinions.   I feel the most important thing to keep in mind while studying abroad is to put your differences aside and try to put yourself in the shoes of the people you meet.   In three months time, you will meet so many absolutely extraordinary and beautiful people  (inside and out)  and it is important to  absorb as much of  their culture and energy as you possibly can because the people are truly what makes your experience so much more incredible than you would've dreamed possible. 

     Secondly, it is is important to remember to leave a good impression as you are an ambassador, or representative of America.  Some of the countries on Semester at Sea itineraries have experienced very little tourism and sometimes have negative notions as to what Americans really represent.  As an ambassador, you should  leave these countries knowing you made a connection with at least one person and knowing you ridded any negative ideas of our culture. 
I hope I have in some way made an impact on some of the incredible people I have met in my three months traveling abroad, as so many of the people I’ve met along my journey have on meThere is no better feeling that having this connection with a new friend from across the world.  Lastly, it is very important to observe the culture and keep in mind any cultural differences or issues in the country so not to offend your new friends. 

     This is an opportunity of a lifetime and you are so lucky to be able to have such an experience.  Allow yourself to learn and live for the moment because these are moments you may never have a chance to experience again. 
Most importantly, just enjoy the people and the cultures.  I hope you have as much of an enriching experience on your voyage as I have.  It will be what you make of it!   Good luck!
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