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Open Letter

"When I was little I thought that a mother was born a mother, that a teacher had always been a teachers, or that a soldier could never be anything other than a soldier.  And a star stays a star.  And I've always had the impression that they were differnt beings than I."
~Ai Yazawa author of the comic Nana

Dear Future Semester at Sea Students and Other World Travelers,

The world is an awesome place and there are many things about it I’d like to share with you.  But we're only allowed 2 points in here so I’ll stick with lessons I’ve learned and things that I think cannot be missed as you travel around the world.  I’ll begin with the things I’ve learned:
 Every culture is different; different does not necessarily mean bad or wrong.  Don’t set out to change the world;
hong kong sometimes things don’t need changing.  You’ll receive much unwanted attention in many countries if you don’t try to blend in as well as you can (i.e. cover your shoulders and knees constantly, out of respect make sure your elbows andcairo ankles are covered in Muslim countries, especially if you plan to visit a mosque, etc.); especially women.  A smile means the same thing all across the world; but our American head motions for yes and no do not.  In Japan don’t point or blow your nose in public.  Look both directions when crossing the road; it’s easy to get confused as to which side of the street people drive on (in some places it’s both).  Personal space does not exist; you will be touched by people.  You should take the time to have a conversation with someone you’ve met on the street; more often than not they’re not out to get you.  Do not get dehydrated (malaria medication and sea-sickness patches both cause it); kidney stones are not fun and may cause impromptu changes in your itinerary and dents in your wallet.  Remember, when you step off of your ship, out of your airplane or off of a train that you’re a visitor in another country, treat it the way you’d treat a friend’s home.

With that said, there are many things you shouldn’t miss as you travel around the world:
Eat sushi and visit the Peace Memorial Museum at Hiroshima in Japan, also try and find America town in Osaka.  In Hong Kong take the Peak Tram and look down on the city, take a double-decker bus to another island and spend a day discovering the rural side of the city.  Get up the courage to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh City (after that you’ll feel
libraryinvincible), drink coconut milk from a street vendor or spend a day on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.  Spend you’re money wisely in Burma, avoid purchasing jewels, alcohol and teak to keep the money in the hands on the people rather than in the hands of the military; visit an orphanage and a golden pagoda.  Eat with your hands in India, take a ride in a auto-rickshaw, walk the streets of Chennai and observe what you can of the people along them.  In Egypt see the pyramids and turkeymosques in Cairo, go to the Alexandria library, have a glass of fresh juice along the water, eat falafel in pita from a fast-food restaurant and spend some time just walking around.  In Istanbul see a group of Whirling Dervishes perform, visit the grand bazaar and spice market, take a Turkish bath, visit a museum and make a friend.  Visit Croatia in winter when it’s not as crowded with tourists; spend a few days in the Old City of Dubrovnik and walk the walls, visit Lokrum Island and take a trip to a mountain town.  In Cadiz walk along the wall of the city, visit the small shops and have a tortilla (omelet) and potatoes sandwich.  Walk whenever you can, you miss less on foot.  Smile whenever possible.  Leave a piece of your heart everywhere, so you have a reason to come back.

Enjoy the world and good luck in your travels,

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