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Semester At Sea: 

A Voyage Of Recovery

Chloé Hirschhorn

     He was casually smoking a cigarette out on the fifth deck of the ship when I asked if perhaps he had time for a short interview to find out about how he came to be on Semester At Sea.  He told me he had an “interesting story” for me, and after a little hesitation, he consented to the discussion.  We started off slowly; discovering that he is from Massachusetts, where last June he told his mother he needed to take a semester off of school.  His mother suggested studying abroad instead, and suggested Semester At Sea to him. 

     Without her knowledge, his mother had suggested a solution to a larger problem. Her son had spent the past year and a half using heroin, which he had recently realized was an addiction that he needed to get away from.  Semester At Sea seemed like a good solution. Being on the ship, as opposed to a regular semester abroad, meant he could not find or buy drugs.  Pulling the brim of his baseball cap down to hide his face, he admitted to unsuccessfully attempting to find some in Hawaii.  He had run out of methadone the day before we docked, and was in constant pain.

     Again fidgeting with the brim of his hat, shifting his weight, he confessed, “I wish I could go back.” Without a question to prompt him, he dropped his hands to his sides and shrugged, “this is my rehab.”

     Where for most this is a voyage of discovery and a chance of a lifetime, for others it is what seems to be the only way out.  At the end of our conversation his fidgeting had slowed to a halt, and he put out his hand, “I’m S., what’s your name?”

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