In September, the students from UWC Atlantic College had the opportunity to meet Chris Churma and Sarah Martinez from Semester at Sea.
Semester at sea is a multi-country study abroad programme, where students can come abroad and study whilst visiting 9-11 countries during fall and spring semesters. Whilst studying on board the ship, the students get the opportunity to visit many different countries such as, Germany, Ghana, Vietnam and Hawaii (to name a few).
Each class holds an average of 30-35 students, and happen when the ship is moving. No classes happen whilst the ship is in port, except for a field experience, which counts to 20% of the overall grade.
Over 70 courses are offered during each voyage, covering 25 or more disciplines, which all come from Colorado State University. Frequently offered course disciplines include, Anthropology, International Studies, Economics and Psychology and many more!
Field classes are required for each course, and count towards 20% of your final grade. They are faculty led and directly correspond to the course curriculum. Examples of field class include Health Care in Ghana (Medical Anthropology), visiting an Adidas factory in Vietnam (International Business Management) and seeing a Buddhist Approach to Happiness in Japan (Psychology).
Whilst the students are in port, they get the opportunity to experience life with the locals and serve the community. Examples of this include:
(Students home for the Semester)
Aboard the ship there are nine classrooms, nine decks, two dining halls, two snack bars, an outdoor grill, a library, a theatre, a spa, a fitness centre and much more!
Semester at Sea awards over $6 million dollars in grants and scholarships annually.
Davis UWC Scholarship:
Each United World College (UWC) around the world nominates two students per year who are eligible to sail as gap year students.
20 Undergraduates from the Davis Partner Institutions are eligible per year.
Voyages are in the spring or the fall.
Whilst Chris and Sarah were at UWC Atlantic College, we had the opportunity to catch up with them and see how they were finding their day at the castle!
Q: How have you found visiting UWC Atlantic College for the day?
Sarah: It has been a wonderful visit. I work with all of the students from all of the UWCs, so it is really great to see a UWC College, have a tour of the campus, and see it functioning for the day. This has been a really wonderful opportunity to get a better understanding of how the curriculum works and what it looks like, and the support the students have. It’s been great and they have been very hospitable.
I also love the parallels between our community and the UWC community. There’s so much that we are learning on our programme and what the students are learning here, that is in common.
All the UWCs have very close, tight knit communities, and they have a very diverse student body. Semester at sea and the UWCs seem to have a very similar mission.
Sarah and Chris go on to explain that they have taken 12 students from Atlantic College on a Semester at Sea voyage, and are looking forward to this number growing in the future.
Q: What is it about UWC students that you like?
Sarah: The students are very independent, they are already in a sense studying abroad, in that they are already living in a learning community, where they are living with their peers, with their faculty and with their staff. In many ways they are very prepared for what semester at sea has to offer. The students are wonderful to work with, they have good academics under their belt and they have wonderful manners!
Chris: UWC students become great student leaders on board. Believe it or not, in many cases the UWC students become role models to our undergraduate students. The UWC students are such achieving students, it’s great to integrate them into the community.
Sarah: The other amazing thing about these students is the fact that they ask the same questions that a Dean of a Swiss University was asking yesterday. They ask such stimulating, thoughtful questions and I can only imagine that this translates when they get on board and during classes. We always hear at the end of each voyage, that the UWC students are phenomenal and great to work with.
What is your favourite part of the Atlantic College?
Sarah: The jousting field! When I heard on the tour that you have a jousting field, I was like “What!?” And the fact that you have an indoor and an outdoor pool. I went to a school in the desert in New Mexico, so this campus is amazing. It’s beautiful!
Chris: Obviously our programme is at sea, so anytime I can be near the sea I am happy. We walked all the way down to the seafront with Ken Corn, and looking back up and seeing what sits here on this campus is amazing.
How do the students benefit from a Semester at Sea trip?
Chris: We like to think that it is a life time worth of benefits. That the students go on to make themselves more marketable when applying for jobs, it definitely stands out on a student’s CV. We have found from a lot of our alumni that they are asked about it when being interviewed. It gives the students the opportunity to talk about a time when they had to be adaptable and flexible. It also gives the students a lot of life based skills and from an academic aspect, it allows the students to look beyond their textbook, and they can see their research in action and in practice. They can have a hands on approach to learning, which is a large benefit of the programme.
Sarah: It also makes the students comfortable and savvy with many different cultures!
Thank you Sarah and Chris!