Semester at Sea: Stumbling

Not such good news this update around. Scholarship and Aid results came out last night, and my Presidential Scholarship application was unsuccessful. I did receive a need-based grant, but the venture remains financially unattainable. We’re talking 20K US-dollars that I don’t have. And with the recent strikes in South Africa, our exchange rate went from an unaffordable ZAR8.44 to a dollar, to a ridiculous ZAR8.74.

To give some meat to the matter, $20,000 is more than the total sum of alllll the study debt I’ve rung up in my four years of study.

It’s hit me a little harder than I thought it would. Semester at Sea – or the thought thereof – has kept me going since March this year. When things on this campus and in student government were unbearable, thinking of sailing around the world kept me going. I can honestly say this has been my biggest dream so far.

And I suppose I allowed myself to be lulled into reassurance by my African citizenship, and I suppose I didn’t realise that I’m a tiny fish in a big, big pond.

How’s that for back down to Earth.

I just can’t give up on this though.

I’ve got sponsorships for my visas and possibly my plane tickets. I’ve organised the minutest details of correspondence with my university while I’m away, so that I will still graduate on time (I don’t need any longer than six years to get this degree, thank you). I even got my Yellow Fever vaccination, which has been the most expensive vial I ever did see.

So I’m renewing my efforts and approaching companies that hardly feel 20K leaving their pockets. Of course in South Africa, that’s not quite as easy.

I looked at GoFundMe, and I suppose it may be a good idea to put something on their, but honestly – people on there are asking for help with really important things, like medical bills. Semester at Sea is important to me, but I suppose I will feel bad taking away from others so to speak.

I want to do this. I need to do this… I need the enrichment. The life experience. The Presidential Scholarship would have been a huge honour, but it isn’t really my pride that’s hurt – it’s simply that I want so dearly to take part in this experience.

I suppose I’ve been too lucky. I got into Medicine four years ago without even really trying. And I went to the States and to China. And served on Student Government. Perhaps I’ve been too lucky. There were over 500 applicants, and maybe others needed it more.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m not shattered and unsure what to do next.

I want to be exceptional again, and I just don’t think that being stuck on this campus is helping me to become that.


  1. So sorry to hear about the scholarship not coming through. My suggestion would be to put something on GoFundMe; you’ve clearly put a lot of thought and effort into Semester at Sea, and if it gives you more motivation/experience, then I think it’s a very worthwhile thing for people to be contributing towards. I’ll even mention you on my blog if you do! A lot of people contributing a small amount can go a long way towards your goal.

    Hope it all works out for you.

    1. Thank you SO much for your empathy! And thank you for the advice also. I will get onto starting something on GoFundMe as soon as possible. You are right – every little bit will help.
      Thanks again, and I’m sure that your interviews went well – best of luck with the results.

  2. Perhaps a Pay Pal Donate button on your site might get you closer? Oh I wish you the very, very best, Med…

  3. TBM says:

    I’m sorry to hear about this stumbling block. I hope you find a way to make it happen. I wish you the best of luck.

    1. Thank you so much. The going is slow, but I’m not giving up.

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