By Brianna Ciniglio Staff Writer
Two Hofstra students are currently traveling the world through a study abroad program entitled “Semester at Sea” which travels to 15 countries with 627 students from all over the world.
On the ship, the MV Explorer, students are able to earn class credit while visiting places such as Morocco, Poland and Germany. Monica Lee, a senior English and American literature major at Hofstra, knew that she wanted to partake in this opportunity since she was a freshman.
“Once I knew I could do it and still graduate on time, I had to do it,” Lee said.
The program has offered Lee some eye-opening experiences to what is going on beyond the United States borders. She has loved having the opportunity to talk to the locals in each country and to listen to their stories.
Some experiences on the trip have been more traumatic than others. She witnessed teenage boys kissing their families goodbye to board trains in Russia for the mandatory draft.
“Knowing about all the turmoil in Ukraine and the possibility that these young men may be heading there was incredibly moving,” Lee said.
She and her classmates even ran into some trouble with the Ebola outbreak, which prevented them from traveling to West Africa to do volunteer work with school children. “We all felt helpless and selfish for being so upset that we could no longer experience Africa, when in reality we are so incredibly lucky to be able to simply divert our route, while meanwhile so many people are suffering,” Lee said.
Through these ups and downs, Lee has made some life-long bonds with students from all over the world. The extended periods of time that the students spend together on the small ship has forced them to get to know each other well. Lee loves the positive vibes she has received from the community… when everyone isn’t experiencing seasickness, at least.
The constant traveling can be difficult to get used to. Monica has even been tossed from her bed on several occasions due to the rough waves.
But at the end of the day, Lee has loved the adventures she has experienced through the program.
“It forces you to actively live and experience every moment of every day and, as cliche as it is, you enjoy the journey just as much as the destination.”
If you would like to follow Monica’s journey, follow her on Instagram @mestelle92.