Semester at Sea on a (Low) Budget


I get a lot of questions about the expense of doing Semester at Sea, and how a financially challenged student may go about experiencing this unique study-abroad opportunity.

It’s important to know that it is NOT easy. Semester at Sea is pretty expensive in American terms, and even more so when you live in a country with a much weaker economy. I would not have been able to go were it not for bursaries and my parents’ assistance in getting a loan. This means students on a budget will need to be willing to make sacrifices. Again, in the USA it may be a bit easier because many scholarships can be directly transferred from your school to SAS. Again, international students are often not so lucky. Here are some tips for cutting costs wherever you are:

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Myanmar In My Eye


This week’s challenge with The Daily Post is titled The World Through Your Eyes.

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Myanmar was a fantastic country. Really like no place you’ve ever been; nothing like the rest of Asia. We were walking through a residential street (not lost, just strolling) and the sense of community in this street was strong. Everyone was having fun. Old men chewing betel nut and sharing stories (I assume), kids running around, men playing card games, men playing Foosball. For once, it seemed that people did not even notice us. I took many pictures that day, but this one is my favourite.

Booking It Around The World


Last week I posted about books for travelers, and I realised I never wrote about my forays into bookstores while traveling. Most Semester at Sea students decide to collect ONE THING in each country. One girl decided to buy a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in every country, preferably in a local language. Another chose Alice in Wonderland. I thought this was cool, except that a) I don’t have an all-time favourite book and b) I prefer books that I can read. So I decided to buy a book in every country, either about that country or by an author in that country. In English.


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TTT: Books for the Traveler


I am changing things just a little for today’s Top Ten Tuesday. The topic is Top Ten Books that feature TRAVELLING in some way. I’m choosing books that I think travelers would like. Whether you are traveling, have actively traveled, or dream about traveling, these books are all set in foreign countries and are great to read (whether you’ve been to the countries or not). And since they transport the reader to another world, I’m thinking it’s not too much of a cheat ;).


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Review: The Big Necessity by Rose George


One of the first things I noticed when I started traveling was international differences in public restrooms. In New York City I was met with the conundrum of a city that has everything except restrooms. In China I saw squat toilets for the first time – and refused to use them. Working in a hospital with filthy restrooms has given me a strong bladder. Then, when we hit our first official port for Semester at Sea (Japan) I saw the smartest loos alive.

What a pleasure, then, to read The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters while traveling. (The cover caught my eye – isn’t it wonderful?) Rose George literally goes everywhere with this book. She plunges into the depths of sewer systems in New York and London. She exposes the dirt and grit of the water we consume. And then she travels to the corners of the earth to see how other countries compare. Continue reading

Semester at Sea: Happies and Crappies


sasfound2Yesterday was a whole month since I have been back in South Africa. That means that my whirlwind circumnavigating-the-world experience has been over for over a month! And I have written painfully little since I’ve been back. (What, I did have good reasons – namely exams and clinical rotations, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am.)

I spent a lot of time on the voyage missing home, but I also spent a lot of time having an incredibly rare experience. Needless to say, there are things I miss and things I was so glad to see the back of. Here are some of the things I miss… and don’t! Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape


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I took this picture at Elmina Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana, during my visit there with Semester at Sea in April this year. We learned about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in high school history class, and it was incredibly educational to visit this castle in the flesh. It was harrowing too. What a dark time in human history this was. I could almost feel the desperate yearning for escape that those in the slave trade must have felt – and very few of them would ever escape alive.

Linking up with The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

Medical Monday: Disabled in Vietnam


In my Semester at Sea reflections, I return often to Vietnam. I think it was the first country to shock me, well and truly. It was not very easy to make my SAS experience medically-oriented, and I had to do a lot of hard work to learn about medicine in various countries. Vietnam was the country where the medicine came to me without having to be asked (much like the vendors, and the traffic).

We had a field lab for my Illness Narratives class (definitely one of the best classes OF MY LIFE, but more of that later). We visited an orphanage for disabled children and an elderly women’s home.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above (Floating Market, Vietnam)


It is the eve of my examinations, and I have been back in South Africa for exactly a week. It has been incredibly difficult to focus on studying. Fortunately I don’t start with the most difficult subject (which is not to say that I am not incredibly nervous).

Anyway, taking a break, this week’s theme for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge is “From Above”. I did not anticipate difficulty in finding a good picture taken from above, but it was difficult! The picture here is from our visit to Vietnam in February. We went to a large floating market on the Mekong Delta one morning. It was a little quiet, because it was the end of the Tet holiday. Many people sell in bulk at this floating market, and many, many little children help their parents with the daily work.

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A Tired, Anxious, Excited Post


It’s amazing how few places offer free wifi. But San Francisco does, and I’m super glad!

One of my (sponsored, not self-paid) tickets is First Class. It’s a first for me (see what I did there) and it’s pretty cool. I’m so full on good food that I don’t have much else to do during this layover but be on the internet (because I’ve already ogled all the lovely book stores).

Upon saying goodbye to the boy at the airport (I said bye to la familia 1000km before that), I had to suppress an unexpected bout of tears. I thought it was happy tears. But on the plane I got pretty anxious. I realised, wow, this is happening. Oh my holy cow, THIS IS HAPPENING. Continue reading