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!