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Point Of View: Setting off on a semester at sea

People of any age, or "lifelong learners," travel with the students and can sit in on classes and participate in the field programs. For lifelong learners, it's the opportunity to see the world and work with many different agencies like the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity at each port we visit.

The more I read about the Semester At Sea, the more I got anxious to see if I would get accepted into the program. In February 2009, I received a letter in the mail stating I have been accepted into the International Shipboard Education program, as long as I was accepted into a university. This was the beginning of a very long process. I applied to the University at Albany and to the University at Binghamton. Right away I heard that I was accepted at Albany, but I focused my energy on hearing from Binghamton. After numerous calls and e-mails, as well as handing in three references, two essays and a resume, I received a letter in the mail saying I was withdrawn from the admission process.

Next I focused on trying to get a loan, but SUNY Albany wouldn't let me take out a loan because I was not seen as a student since I have not taken any classes there. At this point in the process, my mom was getting very frustrated.

In order to get the information I needed, I had to call Semester At Sea representatives, and they were so easy to get a hold of and so willing to help. I finally got a loan through the University of Virginia, which sponsors the Semester At Sea. I also got a scholarship from Hudson Valley Community College and a $4,000 grant from the University of Virginia.

Next it was time to focus on getting the shots and medication I needed in order to travel to some of the destinations on the itinerary. I had to pay more than $100 for a yellow fever vaccination and around $80 for malaria pills to take while I'm at sea. This was the easiest part of the process besides getting my teachers to write recommendations for me.

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