May 042004
Authors: Joanna Larez

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

a book.

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

have changed.”

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.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.