One of the few similarities between Madeline Albright and Fidel
Castro is that they have both spoken to CSU students within the
last four months.
Albright spoke to CSU students on campus in March, while Castro
spoke with other students in his native country when students
visited Cuba during the Semester at Sea program.
Semester at Sea is a 100-day study-abroad program that takes
students on a voyage around the world for spring, summer and fall
semesters. The spring 2004 voyage began Jan. 16 in Nassau, Bahamas.
The S.S. Universe Explorer was a campus on the sea for 16 CSU
students and 618 other students from 235 colleges and
The ship stopped in ports in Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya,
India, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Japan and ended the
voyage in Seattle, Wash., on April 26.
On the third day in Cuba, the passengers were invited to a
reception held by Castro, the president of Cuba, said Brenna Linke,
a senior business management and marketing major.
Linke said Castro spoke for four and a half hours about every
subject she could imagine, including religion and biology.
“He’s a very cunning man,” Linke said. “It’s obvious why he’s
president of Cuba.”
Castro has met with people from Semester at Sea for the past 10
semesters, Linke said.
“He takes guests very seriously, because Cuba does not get very
many guests,” Linke said.
Students must take at 12 credit hours and are not allowed to
exceed a 15-credit hour load during spring and fall semesters,
according to Semester at Sea’s Web site,
Linke said a typical day included going to two or three classes
and then spending free time studying or talking by the pool. She
said there were no classes when the ship was in port. Students were
able to visit the country and go on field trips for their classes,
said Matt Conway, a junior business management major.
Conway said the program offers many interesting classes about
world music, culture, history and science. Conway took a maritime
history class that covered the history of European trade,
colonization and mercantilism.
“It was one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken,
because we were visiting the countries and the cities that were
discussed in class,” Conway said.
Some students worked during the semester. Taylor Dunn, a junior
political science major, had a work-study position on the trip.
Dunn said a typical day included work from 8 to 9 a.m., then three
or four hours of class that included a lunch break, and then work
for the rest of the day.
“There was a lot of sleeping during the day, because we would
change time zones about every other day,” Dunn said.
When the ship was at port in Kenya, Linke stayed with a
middle-class family and learned some lessons that did not come from
Those three days left a lasting impression that is her favorite
memory from the trip.
Linke said the mother was a widow and mother of four. Three of
the children lived at home. The house did not have running water
and the electricity would be turned off randomly. Linke said
experiencing a life with uncertain electricity supply and no
running water taught her a lesson: She realized how much she takes
such things for granted in America.
The people of Vietnam left a positive impression on Dunn.
“The people were great, the food was great and the experiences
were fantastic,” Dunn said.
Self-discovery and new views of the world are lessons Dunn took
away from the semester.
“This trip has forced me to look at the inequalities in the
world and made me think about what I can do to make things better
in the world,” Dunn said.
Conway noticed personal changes when he returned to Fort
“It hits you like a ton of bricks,” Conway said. “It’s a great
feeling to come back to what you were familiar with and see how you
The trip is about $18,000 if not much money is spent at port,
Dunn said. Conway said the price should not discourage students
from looking into the program. Grants, work-study and financial aid
from CSU can be applied to Semester at Sea. Although the cost was
an issue for Dunn, he did not let it stop him.
“Most importantly though, you get so much more out of this trip
than you ever could in Fort Collins,” Dunn said. “Nothing explains
how people live in India better than seeing people live in India. I
learned more in one semester at sea than I have in three years at
Box: Students can visit Semester at Sea’s Web site or get a
brochure about the program from the Office of International
Programs in Laurel Hall. Semester at sea is a study-abroad program
separate from CSU.