Name: Danielle Moore
Major: Major: Mass Communications with a focus in advertising, journalism and public relations
Hometown: Logan Twp., NJ
Destination: Semester at Sea (Asia, Africa, Europe)
Term Abroad: Spring 2014
Q: FOOD , your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?
A: My favorite food, without question, was eating taiyaki in Tokyo, Japan, or what my friends and I like to refer to as “waffle fish.” Essentially, it is a pastry similar to the texture of a koi fish-shaped fluffy waffle, filled with traditional and popular flavors. A cultural favorite is the red bean stuffing, but I preferred the chocolatey goodness that tasted like a blend of melted milk chocolate and nutella. On the other hand, with a not so favorable palate, was the snake wine that I sipped in Guilin, China. If you want to know what venom tastes like, it’s in the form of dead snakes fermenting in bitter wine with cranberries and olives bobbing throughout.
Q: PLACES , talk about your favorite spot in your home away from home. Where? Why?
A: Before I left, what really resonated with me was the idea that with any other study abroad program, you can always jet set back to your favorite counties, but you can never fly back to the middle of the ocean on the MV Explorer—that’s where home is. You can’t meet your friends on the 7th deck to study in the open sun or grab a smoothie anymore like you can on land. Home meant seeing your favorite crew member Linval for every meal and hearing him greet you in his Jamaican accent or being rocked to sleep each night by the waves of the open seas. Sure, I would fly back to my favorite port in Vietnam, but living on the sea is what I fell in love with.
Q: TOP SECRET , did a local point you to a market, pub, or park you didn’t know about? Pass it on.
A: I’m not a big fan of orange juice, nothing personal against Florida or anything. However, I drank my weight in freshly squeezed orange juice while in Morocco. In the middle of the medina in Marrakech, situated between snake charmers and henna artists are carts loaded with fresh citrus fruits. For $0.20, you could drink sunshine.
Q: NOPE , are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?
A: One thing I do not miss are bucket showers in port. In developing counties, running water is a luxury and when you do find some, the water is guaranteed to be cold—or have frogs living in your shower like I had in Bagan, Myanmar. Also, try refraining from singing in the shower and accidentally swallowing some because the water is not treated and the bacteria will make you sick.
Q: YEP , you’re actually homesick for something from abroad. What? Why?
A: I miss all of my friends already. With Semester at Sea, you are on a ship with 550 other students from across the country. It’s definitely weird having to adjust to communicating with my friends through social media or phone calls. Honestly, some of us left the ship without exchanging phone numbers because we are accustomed to being within two minutes of one another for 4 months. On the bright side, when I travel on my cross-country road trip next summer, I will always have a free place to stay.
Q: SPEAKING OF , what new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?
A: With traveling to 13 different countries mixed with slang and jargon influenced from friends across the states, your repertoire becomes quite eclectic. On the plus side, I can say “thank you” in every language from Mandarin to Twi!
Q: SHOCKING , you could hardly believe your eyes when you saw … What? Why?
A: Everything I saw, smelled, tasted and heard was unbelievable to me. I walked through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and still saw locals affected by Agent Orange from the war. I spent some time speaking with locals and when asked why the Vietnamese people are so hospitable and welcoming to Americans, the response was always, “we understand what happened in the war, but we don’t look at Americans as an entire culture because the best way to understand people is looking at each person individually.”
Q: WEEKENDS , full of travel. Where did you go? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?
A: There were no weekends—there were A Days, B Days and Port Days. While on the ship, your days were either A or B and days of the week became irrelevant. However, when in port, that meant a week without showering, packing your life up in a hiking backpack, recycling the same two shirts over and over and going into each country with the trust of locals and the guide of Lonely Planet books.
Q: TOUGHEST DAY , everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?
A: Even though I was only in each country for one week, it felt like a month. The most challenging thing with Semester at Sea is making a home out of a foreign country—crash courses in customs, language, nuances and rituals—then having to leave it for another place. My study abroad program didn’t train me to become fully immersed and fluent with a country’s culture, but it taught me how to keep an open mind, travel on a budget, be resourceful and most importantly how to trust in those around me. Here in the states, we are timid of strangers because we are an individualistic culture where in collectivist cultures like India, the people are eager to help.
Q: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students worried / concerned / afraid of studying abroad?
A: Just go. The most expensive part about traveling is the plane ticket to get to each place. When traveling in Asia, I spent a total of $200 in three different countries over the course of three weeks on food, lodging, transportation, tours, and even souvenirs! I learned so much while I was abroad, aside from classes, about how small this world actually is because everything now seems so obtainable and realistic.