Cassandra traveled the world during her Semester at Sea in the Fall of 2011. She is currently a senior at Quinnipiac University, and is majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing.
Where do you go to school?
When and where did you study abroad?
Fall, 2011 – Semester at Sea
What was the BEST part about studying abroad?
The best part of studying abroad was meeting so many new people and experiencing such diverse cultures. On Semester at Sea I visited Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Costa Rica, and Honduras. If someone would have told me that by the time I was 21 years old I would have circumnavigated the entire world, I would have never believed them. Semester at Sea gave me the chance to see parts of the world I expected to only ever read about in books. It was the most eye-opening, life-changing, amazing experience I have ever had and probably the best experience I will ever have. I met some of my absolute best friends on Semester at Sea and being able to travel and experience the world with people you love makes it that much better.
What did you learn about the rest of the world from studying abroad? What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
Studying abroad taught me more than I will ever be able to express. I learned how welcoming and inviting other cultures are. I learned how incredibly blessed I am to have an education, health, my family and a home to live in. I learned that language is never a barrier in connecting to other cultures, you just need to find a way how. Semester at Sea showed me how independent I am capable of being. I learned so much about who I am and feel like the experience changed me in so many ways for the better. I learned that the best part of traveling is not knowing what or who you’re going to encounter but that you will never be disappointed. Most importantly, I learned that the world is truly a beautiful place and I am so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to see so much of it.
What was your BIGGEST challenge while studying abroad and how did you manage to handle it?
The biggest challenge studying abroad was managing my finances. When it came to studying abroad I knew I wanted to do absolutely everything and anything but also that this was an unrealistic expectation. Not having the funds to do everything turned out to actually be a lesson in itself because I had to decide what was going to be most important to me to see/do. Planning and executing a trip to see the Taj Mahal in India for myself and 12 others instead of paying double to do it through an actually travel agency was the most rewarding, risky, and best experience I had on SAS and I wouldn’t have done it had I not had to worry about money. Despite working endlessly in the months before studying abroad, there was always something I had to turn down if I wanted to do something else, and looking back I honestly wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Despite having limits on spending I was still able to skydive in South Africa, walk on the Great Wall of China, and ride a camel in the Sahara desert. What seemed at the time to be a challenge actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. My trip wouldn’t have been all it was without hitting a few bumps along the way and having to decide what I ultimately wanted to leave SAS having had done.
How did studying abroad change your life?
Semester at Sea helped me realize how much there is beyond Westchester, New York. It ignited a passion I never knew existed for traveling and engaging with different cultures. I don’t know if studying abroad necessarily prepared me for the career I had in mind, but it did show me that my future is wide open. When it comes to life skills I think studying abroad strengthened my communication abilities in every aspect. There is so much that can be taken away from cultures that are so different than your own.
What are your future plans?
I’m majoring in public relations with a minor in marketing and although I’m graduating this coming May, I still have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. Ideally I would love to continue traveling and exploring new countries/cities around the world but student loans are calling so that dream will have to wait a little longer…
What’s your BEST piece of advice for someone who is thinking about studying abroad?
DO IT. The decision to study abroad is one that you will NEVER regret. I promise no matter where you decide to go it will be a life-changing experience and one that you will never forget. Writing this spotlight has officially made me depressed but I hope it encourages at least one person to seriously consider studying abroad because it will be the best decision you ever make.