Mexico . Hawaii . Japan . China . Hong Kong . Vietnam . Cambodia . Thailand . India . Egypt . Turkey . Croatia . Spain . Florida

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

MV Explorer

MV Explorer
Join me as I go around the world in 100 days aboard this ship!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More Changes to Itinerary

SAS has finally posted online the recently made changes to our Fall 2007 itinerary. I'm actually quite pleased with all the changes. Like I said in the last post, we will be going to Bangkok, Thailand, in place of Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). Although Myanmar would have been a unique experience in and of itself, I am pretty excited for this change to have occurred. I have wanted to visit Thailand for quite some time now, so it all works out in the end. Some of the other changes to the itinerary are as follows.

We will now be stopping for two days in the port of Yokahama, Japan, instead of going directly to Kobe, Japan. This city is located in the northern part of the country, making it easier and cheaper to travel to Tokyo, if that's what we choose to do. I am planning on getting a rail pass and traveling all over Japan, spending at least a whole day, perhaps two, in Tokyo. I also want to visit Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Osaka. We have the option of boarding the ship and traveling Japan's beautiful inner passage to our next port of Kobe for two days, or we can travel overland and meet the ship before it departs from Kobe for our next destination of Qingdao, China.

Finally, we will now be ending our voyage in Miami, rather than Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This is because our berth has been usurped by a larger vessel. Miami is a short and inexpensive ground shuttle trip away from Ft. Lauderdale; thus, parents who have already booked their flights for the welcome home reception won't need to change their travel plans. I've never been to Florida, so I'm pretty stoked that our ship docks in Miami. I plan on spending the whole month of December in the Sunshine State and meeting up with some friends and family for the holidays. We will probably be making a trip to Disney World, too! Can you believe I have never been to Disney World?! I guess my childhood was deprived of the mass commercial globalization that is Disney. Haha, I'm just kidding, Disney, I love you! And I secretly always wanted to be Princess Jasmine! Anyway, I will wrap up my fabulous semester at sea and kiss '07 goodbye by ringing in the new year in sunny South Beach, Miami. Let the good times roll!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Change in Itinerary

I just found out a couple days ago, via a post on our MSN group message boards, that Myanmar (Burma) will be indefinitely removed from the SAS itinerary. Although I didn't know much about the country, I was disappointed when I heard the news. I guess there is a lot of conflict going on in Myanmar, unfortunately, and its people are not able to live freely.

I decided to call SAS to see if they replaced Myanmar with another country and found out that we will now be going to Bangkok, Thailand, instead. I am really thrilled about that because I have been dying to go to Thailand! I have heard so many wonderful things about that country... not to mention my undying love for Thai food! All my friends who have traveled Southeast Asia said you cannot possibly go there without visiting Thailand. I had asked SAS before if I could do an independent trip to Thailand, but they said we weren't allowed to go out of our port country, so it is a blessing in disguise that Myanmar was cancelled and Thailand was added. Here is the letter that was posted on the message board. It hasn't been officially updated yet on the SAS website, so there could be more changes.
Dear All:

First, I want to extend my sincere thanks to each one of you for agreeing to be on this special committee. All of us at ISE thank you for taking the time to study this important matter. After reviewing my notes and our conversations I reported to the ISE Staff on Tuesday that a majority of the committee members thought it would be best to cancel our upcoming visits to Myanmar.

I reported this to the Senior staff when I was in Charlottesville and it was agreed that we would cancel our visit to Myanmar indefinitely, beginning with the Fall 2007 voyage. An announcement will be sent to the upcoming faculty staff and students and we will post the itineraries for the upcoming voyages on our website and in our literature.

This was not an easy decision because there were compelling arguments on both sides of the issue, but we believe it is the right decision at this time.

Please know all of us send our sincere thanks to you and hope you have a wonderful day and a relaxing week-end.

John P. Tymitz, Ph.D.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Because I am doing Semester at Sea so late into my college career, I won't be able to transfer the units to Pepperdine. Even though the classes we take on the ship are accredited through the prestigious University of Virginia (the second best public university in the nation, following Berkeley), there's a rule that says the last 28 units have to be taken in residence at Pepperdine in order to receive a degree from there. Most universities have a similar rule. For me, this isn't a big deal because I already have more than enough units to graduate a year early. Instead of finishing a year early, I decided to enjoy a full four years in college. More specifically, I decided to take a semester off to do this program now and let my financial aid pay for it, rather than paying out of pocket to do it later on in life. I took 18 units just about every semester, as well as a number of summer school classes, to ensure my senior year would be a breeze. But boy, I never thought it would be this fun! I will be taking a lot of acting classes since that is the career path I want to pursue after graduation. Next spring upon returning from Semester at Sea, I will have only two more required courses (psychology and Spanish lit), and the rest of my classes will comprise of acting, voice, piano, dance, etc.

So here are the four classes I am taking this fall on Semester at Sea and their descriptions:

Global Studies (this class is mandatory for everyone)
Global Studies is an interdisciplinary course that focuses on the countries visited and is tailored especially to meet the global and comparative approach of Semester at Sea. In addition to providing basic information about the countries on the itinerary, Global Studies also provides a meaningful framework by which to compare data, examine issues, and develop concepts. Participants learn how to understand cultural and social phenomena with which they are constantly coming into contact during the semester and to highlight both commonalities and differences from one society to another. Global Studies equips participants with observational and analytical skills for encountering societies different from their own, and different from each other, a key factor in facilitating the integration of class work and field work for all courses.

Modern Acting Techniques
The Modern Acting class will explore the evolution of Acting in the 20th Century up to the present. By understanding this evolution actors will realize the social issues that surrounded a particular theatrical movement, the ideas that were present during the writing of a play and its production, and the methods applied by the actors at the time. As we discuss and explore this evolution we will experience as best we can the changes that occurred and the theoretical shifts from generation to generation. After an overview with some exercises, we will introduce the Meisner Technique and spend the majority of time with The Viewpoints. An introduction to the theater history and practices of each port country will be given and experiences will be incorporated into our work. The course will culminate with original short productions (developed with The Viewpoints) based on work in class, productions seen in ports and other experiences from the countries we visit. Suggested Prerequisite: This is an upper-division performance course so at least an Acting 1 class is required.

Introduction to World Cinema
This course introduces you to the close analysis, cultural interpretation and global diversity of film as an artistic, social and industrial medium. Using a wide variety of films and film excerpts from around the world, virtually all from countries we'll be visiting this semester, we will develop and apply concepts of national and transnational cinema, realism and modernism, form, style, genre, ideology, and culture. In addition we will focus on specific kinds of film techniques such as mise en scene, cinematography, editing and sound. Suggested Prerequisites: None.

Introduction to Global Music
This course will introduce students to a variety of musical styles from around the globe. Following our voyage, we will explore an incredible array of sonic creations from slack key guitar and taiko drumming to filmi and flamenco. The class however is designed to provide more than audio tour: it will challenge students to think critically about the music they encounter-not only its sonic structure and aesthetics, but its various cultural contexts, the technologies and industries which enable them to hear it, the identities of those who perform it, the ways in which audiences consume it, and the many kinds of meanings it may hold. Both the product of and an agent for globalization, we will see that music is an inherently mobile and hybrid form. There are no prerequisites for this course, although students may find that some musical background is helpful.


Let me give you a brief background on what inspired me to do Semester at Sea. During New Student Orientation when I first came to Pepperdine, I saw some posters of Semester at Sea up on the walls. Instantly, I became curious about the program and knew I had to take part. I asked the International Programs division at my school about it, but they said they didn't know too much about the program. They kept encouraging me to do a Pepperdine-sponsored program instead, saying it would be too much of a hassle to transfer credits and get the classes approved. Being a young freshman, I took their word for it. I left for the year-long Buenos Aires program. I traveled all over South America, hitting Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, and of course, Argentina. Don't get me wrong, it was the most incredible year of my life. However, it still wasn't enough. When I came back, I felt the travel bug biting harder, and I was itching to get out and see the rest of the world. I thought it was too late into my college career to do any more study abroads.

Then December of last year came around, and my friend who graduated from UC Berkeley told me he went on Semester at Sea while he was in college and that it was the most amazing experience of his life. Hearing it first-hand from an alum did it for me, and I immediately knew that I was going on the trip. I started gathering my resources and applied in January. I mailed in my deposit as soon as I got my acceptance letter to secure my spot, in a double-occupancy room without a porthole.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I found out I got selected as a work study grant recipient, which is the largest financial award that the Institute for Shipboard Education gives out to any one student. This means that not only do they think I am an exemplary student and will set a good example for the other students, but also that I will get $6,200 subtracted from my tuition (that's 1/3 of the price)! This was great news since my institutional grants don't transfer- only my federal aid will. All I have to do for the grant is work three hours a day while I'm on the ship, which turns out to be only 150 hours total. So if you do the math, I'm getting over $40 an hour for basically doing homework in the library, or whatever it is that I get chosen to do. I'm hoping I will get chosen to be a photographer on the yearbook staff since I have a passion for photography, as you will soon see on my blog.

While here taking summer school classes in Malibu, I have been efficiently getting everything ready to set sail on my voyage. I got both of my required visas (India and China) and got 48 additional pages added to my passport, as it was completely filled up from my South America trip. I got my Indian visa a month ago in New York, while I was visiting a friend, and I got my Chinese visa here in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago. And just Friday, I got my 48 additional passport pages added at the federal building in LA, so I am good to go for many years to come! I decided to do everything in person so as to expedite the process. I don't trust the US mail, and it always takes anywhere from 8-12 weeks to get anything unless you pay a bunch of unnecessary money to overnight it. I'm proud of myself for getting everything done in a timely manner- it makes me feel responsible! I'm the worst procrastinator when it comes to anything else, but this is something that I don't want to wait for!


Hello everybody, I'd like to welcome you to my brand new blog that I started solely for my upcoming Semester at Sea voyage, the experience of a lifetime. I've never been more excited about going abroad than I am right now. I did a whole year abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during my sophomore year at Pepperdine, and it was incredible. However, I don't think it will even COMPARE to this program! There really is no other program where the world is your classroom, where you can experience the wonders of the world, explore four continents, make lifelong friends, and learn things you can directly and immediately apply in a global context.

I just have to say that I've never been good about keeping a blog, journal, diary, or whatever it may be. I have a hard time writing on a regular basis, either because I get really busy and forget, or I just don't feel like writing! I'm trying to get better at it, so please bear with me! I want this to be the first blog that I write regularly because I want you all to experience this wonderful journey with me. Please feel free to leave me comments... I love to hear your thoughts and opinions! Now let's get this ship sailing!