Why You Should Go on Semester at Sea

A Letter to My Sister: Why You Should Go on Semester at Sea

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Alternately Titled: The One in Which You Persuade My Sister to Travel Around the World on a Ship for Four-and-a-Half Months.

My little darling sis and I are polar opposites. Whereas, I’ve always been independent, she doesn’t like to stray far from my mom. She’s a brilliant, motivated, talented 20 year old, to say the least, but she’s never had any desire to follow in my footsteps—at least as far as my nomadic lifestyle is concerned. If you’re new here, skip back a couple months and read the birthday post about her so you can get a little more of a sense for her character and, thus, help me out a bit later in the game. She’s adorable; you’d totally like her.

(She is, however, just as goofy, as me, as evidenced above, and will likely never speak to me again after posting that photo.)

So no one was more shocked than me when Kari applied for Semester at Sea—and was the lone UT student admitted. I figured she might study abroad, if my influence had anything to do with it, but I assumed she’d try to stay closer to home, like, say, the UK. This sounds like an opportunity I would have jumped on had I known about it back then: From January through the end of April, UVA gives all admitted students the opportunity to travel around the world in a cruise-style ship. On board, they take culture and history lessons about the countries they’ll be visiting and, on average, spend a week in each place they disembark. Sounds awesome, right? So why would she even hesitate to reserve her spot?

Well, many reasons actually. The cost is a minor factor, but my grandfather is more than generous in funding all of his grandkids’ college educations (we’re blessed, we truly know). Having gone to private school, then studied abroad, not once, not twice, but three times, I blew through mine pretty quickly. Kari, on the other hand, is a more sensible individual. By the time she headed to college, Tennessee participated in the lottery scholarship, so she stayed in state at a public university, where she could essentially attend for free. Thus, she has quite the savings racked up. She’s now saying, though, that she might want to save it all for grad school, but I say cross that bridge when you come to it (she’s just a sophomore for Chrissakes!).

The potential homesick factor is probably the biggest of her concerns. As previously mentioned, she likes to be able to drive home when she wants to see my mom (and dad and granddad and dogs). But it’s only 14 weeks, I think being that far away will be good for her. Not to mention, her boyfriend Nick will visit her at some point, my mom’s already talked about where she wants to go see her along the way, and you know I’ll probably “drop by” multiple times. Not to mention, I’m sure she’ll win over the entire ship by the end of the first week—out of the sisters, she got all of the charisma.

Another problem is that she’s garnered quite the repertoire of honors and leadership positions at UT in her less than two years there, and she’s afraid she’ll somehow be penalized for leaving for a semester. Quite the opposite, I believe: Usually leadership organizations encourage their members to gain such diverse cultural experiences. But probably the biggest factor, as far as I can tell, is her sorority involvement; she’s currently the treasurer for her sorority and a member of the Panhellenic Council. Funny enough, my mom, Kari and I were all Kappa Deltas (betcha didn’t know that about me, huh?). Only I couldn’t have been less interested in being a part of a sorority, so I took alumni status after two years. Kari, on the other hand, is way into it. And I must say she couldn’t have a sweeter, more adorable pledge class; they’ve almost manage to change my mind entirely about the whole Greek system (though I’m currently engrossed in the  riveting read Pledged, so I’m still erring on the skeptical side).

Still, she’s thinking of running for president (which wouldn’t be until the fall, but she has to make up her mind about when she’ll study abroad in the next few weeks); if she does so, obviously she can’t take the spring term off. Now, I know as well as anyone that when you’re in college, sorority life seem like the most important! thing! in the world! I also know being quite a few years out of college now that in the long run, what’s going to look more important on her resume: Being a former sorority president vs. having traveled all over the world and gained a broader global perspective. Unlike me, Kari’s travel has been primarily limited to domestic travel—though she’s done pretty well at that, at 49 of the 50 U.S. states! she’s beating me, that’s for sure—having only been to England when she was barely old enough to remember, Mexico, Belize, Canada and a couple places in the Caribbean. I think it could do her some real good to venture out of her comfort zone and travel around the world without us holding her hand. Last I heard, too, she’s an accounting major with a minor in international business, so, you know, there’s that, too.

Kari has said if she can defer for a term and go on the summer Semester at Sea, she’ll do that. Its shorter, and she can still do her sorority thing. My big hesitation there is that the route leaves from England and primarily paddles about the Mediterranean, which she could easily do on her own or our next family cruise. The spring semester, however, departs from San Diego, hitting Hawaii first (there’s your 50th state, Kare!), then on to Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, Egypt, Turkey, Italy, Morocco and ending in England. A much better route if you ask me (though I still think those who are currently on the Spring 2009 jaunt got it best: they’re traveling to Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa and Thailand, among other places!).

Here’s where you all weigh in: What do you think? Is being a sorority president really all that important? Did you study abroad? If not, do you regret not having done it? Has anyone actually done Semester at Sea? As an employer, would you be more inclined to hire someone who had undergone such a journey, or would it even matter? I’d really appreciate it if you have something to say to Kari, you’d do so below. She’s the type who, like her sister, can be swayed by the masses!

By the way, Kari, the good people are still awaiting their guest post.

Editor’s Clarification: Kari would like to add that she is not obsessed with her sorority, nor does she live by the philosophy “Kappa Delta 4 Life!” I was not meaning to imply that she was, but she is very involved in the organization, and that’s totally fine. Every group—whether a sorority, sports team, club, the like—needs devoted members. I’m just pointing out this aspect of her college life because her possible intentions to run for president would conflict with her decision to participate in Semester at Sea.

  • April 1, 2009

    Go for it, Kari! I didn’t study abroad in college, and I’ve always regretted it. There will always be other things going on in your life, and it only gets more difficult to travel for any extended period of time as you get farther away from college.

    My youngest sister is, like Kari, really close to my parents and a bit of a homebody, but she spent a semester in Italy her junior year and absolutely loved it. Yeah, she was a little homesick at times, but she had so many amazing experiences that it was totally worth it for her. Also, it helped her get her current job straight out of college, working for a company that arranges school trips all over the world, despite the fact that the unemployment #s in Michigan are completely dismal.

    As for the employment issue, I think that totally depends on the job. I used to do a lot of hiring for the company I work for now, and I was looking for people with good leadership skills, independence, the ability to deal with lots of different kinds of people. Either sorority leadership or semester at sea would help someone build those qualities. However, if Kari is interested in international business, going abroad could be a HUGE advantage in that field.

  • April 1, 2009

    If you don’t do this, you will regret it for the rest of your life. I almost didn’t study abroad because of 1. the cost and 2. I couldn’t bear to leave my boyfriend. I’m so glad I did it anyway! It was one of the most formative, enriching experiences of my life and I gained so much independence from it. If I’d had the money for Semester at Sea, I would have done it! You must must must do it!

    p.s. When I look at resumes, I cringe when people list sorority experience. I’m a sorority girl myself, but nothing I learned in the Greek world prepared me for the real world, and listing that on a resume holds absolutely no weight with me when I’m looking for qualified applicants. Please don’t let sorority presidency be a deciding factor!

  • April 1, 2009

    I studied abroad 3 times as well. I was in Greece for my 16th birthday and Costa Rica for my 21st. I was in the Dominican Republic at 22. I would not trade it for anything. I studied Spanish and international business. I now run my own insurance agency and cater to Spanish speaking customers. As an employer, I would find the study abroad much more influential than being the sorority president.

    I would vote 110% for the semester at sea!

  • April 1, 2009

    Oh Kari, not studying abroad is the only regret I have from college. I was supposed to go to Ireland, but the cost, the fear of being away from home for so long and being away from my boyfriend made me change my mind. I’ve traveled to many different countries since then, although I’m not as lucky as your sister, I really and truly regret not going to Ireland when I had the chance. (I’m going this July and I know it will only make my regret that much more intense.) My sister is a senior at NYU and she studied abroad in Madrid last year. She absolutely loved every minute of it. I know the experience will stay with her and shape her as a person for the rest of her life.

    Your trip will take you to some fantastic places and you will likely learn about them in a way that you will not otherwise if you visit on your own at a later time. I hear they are closing the pyramids in Egypt soon, so that would make the decision for me.

    I guess I’m saying that I would take your place in a heartbeat, but only you know what is best for you. I wish you the best of luck in making your decision.

  • April 1, 2009

    Hi Kristin,

    Delurking for the second time in a week! :)…
    (I was the one who commented about the Zorb in TN)… Anyways, I went on Semester at Sea in the Fall of 2004 during my junior year of college and it was THE BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE, hands down. I was a French minor, so I also studied abroad in the south of France in Aix-en-Provence for a summer, but the opportunities Semester at Sea gives you are irreplaceable. I think about that trip every single day and it was over 5 years ago!

    There were many students on the ship that didn’t even really want to be there, but their parents actually made them do it, and they were glad they did. I would definitely persuade her to go on SAS versus staying in college for other reasons: boyfriend, sorority, being close to family… The 100-day voyage has a funny way of feeling like a lifetime with the amount of countries you go to, but also goes by like the speed of light considering how amazingly fun and inspirational the entire experience is.

    You get to take regular college classes on the ship and even though I was a journalism/french major in college, the trip didn’t set me back in school at all. If she’s worried about that, taking a few summer courses will be well worth it to be able to go on the trip. Definitely have her check out ALL of the upcoming voyages for the best itinerary. I was lucky enough to depart from Vancouver, Canada and sail to Japan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam (with a side trip to Cambodia from Vietnam), Thailand, India, Tanzania, South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, and then dock in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I doubt there will be another 100 days of my life that include seeing Hiroshima, climbing the great wall of china, walking through Vietnam with my dad for his first time back to the country after serving in the war, watching the sun rise and set over Angkor Wat, discovering the incredible India (which I could write pages and pages about), diving with great white sharks off the tip of Africa while seeing penguins on the shore, skydiving the next day after the sharks, fishing for piranha off a canoe in the Amazon while watching pink dolphins, etc, etc, etc, etc….

    Also! SAS organizes a parent/family trip! My parents signed up and had a 2-week trip to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The location of the parent trip changes for each trip, of course, but it’s an excellent way for the family of the student to get a taste of the SAS and meet up with them during the voyage. I loved it because my parents were able to relate to my experience having come aboard the ship and traveling with us in foreign countries. Look into it because you could probably join the parent trip being her sister!

    As for your questions, SAS was a pivotal part of my life and I would only regret not doing it. Since I work for a travel website (www.homeandabroad.com), I’m pretty sure my experience traveling abroad, especially with Semester at Sea, actually helped me to get hired here. And, even if you aren’t in the travel biz, I’ve heard countless stories of SAS students getting hired places due to their connections within the SAS alumni community. Plus, I think experience is always better than classes. This journey is pretty amazing and I’m sure employers would be impressed with it.

    Obviously this is WAY too long of a comment, but I’m a huge proponent of Semester at Sea and I would encourage anyone (even those without travel experience) to go, the experience will change you forever. I talked my neighbor who is like a little sister to me to go and she couldn’t be happier I suggested the idea to her. I’d be happy to answer more questions about it. I obviously can talk and talk about it! 🙂 Feel free to email me!


  • April 1, 2009


    If you do not, I have one word for you: REGRET.

    I don’t usually speak in all caps. But I think this situation warrants it. Seriously, you should grab this opportunity with both hands and have the time of your life. I don’t know you, but I know the other Luna girl so I can say that there must be many things about you that are awesome. And an experience like this will only enhance those things. Seeing the world is always, always an incredible experience. (Unless you’re a refugee or involuntarily displaced person in a war-torn country. Which you are not. So go for it.)

  • April 1, 2009

    I have never done the semester at sea, being from the UK where we don’t have such exciting options, but I totally would have done it given the chance.
    However one of my best American friends from San Francisco did it (Go Joey!) and it was one of the best things he ever did. He took a similar route to the one Kari is being offered as he did Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, India, Egypt, and Greece I think, and he absolutely loved it! He is quite an outgoing person anyway and had already lived abroad during a 7 month stay in Nice, but many of the people he met hadn’t and it changed their lives. In fact a big group of his study-at-sea friends including him went back to Seoul and got jobs all together as English teachers, having fallen in love with the country during their short visit.

    Having seen him just after he got back and hearing about his adventures, I would say to Kari to go for it! 18 weeks is literally nothing and will fly by and I think she’ll have the time of her life.
    Plus if she ever wants to work outside of the US, having travelled will be a huge benefit and will look amazing on her CV, more so than the sorority activities (nothing personal, just we don’t have any sororities in Europe so it won’t be relevant to future employers! :0 )
    Plus if she really hates it, I’m sure there must be some kind of insurance clause which will get her back home again!
    Good luck with making the all important decision!

  • April 1, 2009

    Kari, do it, do it! You won’t regret it! I thought about doing SaS while I was in school, but didn’t want to take the time off (and $$ was an issue) and I’m still sad that I didn’t. And making up for lost time now! Plus, when you travel, you get to hang out with cool people like me. (Wait, did I just say that? Love ya Kristin! xoxoxo)

  • April 1, 2009

    What? Hesitation? What’s that? Jump ship Kari, jump ship! I was an International Business/Spanish major myself and it is a must to study aboard! I regret not studying abroad more than once but my education was almost entirely self-funded apparent from my scholarships so I didn’t have the funds to study abroad more than once. I was looking at the semester at sea, however, as another possibility if I was to study aboard and I completely regret not purging myself even deeper into debt for this opportunity. Also, no employer I have ever interviewed (being in the field of business, I can relate) with cares about whether or not you were in the Greek system. As long as you show leadership potential, you are golden! I have been offered so many jobs strictly based on my international experience and language capabilities. I will leave you with this quote and you take this to heart:
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    (Ironic, how it goes with the entire “sea” bit, no?)

  • April 1, 2009

    As a fellow sufferer of the homesickness, I understand the hesitation—I didn’t even go away to school for fear of missing my parents and boyfriend too much.

    As a now 26 year old, I REGRET IT MORE THAN ANYTHING. Take advantage of having the money and time to go. Enjoy it. The sorority and all of that will be waiting when you return. Promise.

    Take this once in a lifetime chance and GO.

  • April 1, 2009

    Having been an accountant for eight years, I can pretty confidently say that unless your sister plans on working until at least manager level at a Big Four firm, no one is going to care about her international experience. I’m a Mandarin-speaking white chick with an undergrad degree from Georgetown and two masters degrees and I earn about the same salary as accountants who only have an undergrad degree from a state university and have never set foot outside the United States. In my experience, international exposure is not highly valued among accountants.

    IMHO, she should study abroad just for the sheer pleasure of the experience. She will always be able to get a job with the accounting degree and a CPA license. And it sounds like she’s a pretty smart cookie saving her $$ for grad school- she will need another semester/masters if she wants to become a CPA.

    Like you, I blew through my college $$ pretty quickly; if I had it to do all over, I would have gone to the school that offered me a free ride and used the college fund to pay for law school.

  • April 1, 2009

    First off, what a beautiful sister. Why do little sisters have to be so darn adorable?

    Second off, GO Kari. Please go. I am a 30 year old mother of three kids… which may or may not qualify me to say… THIS WILL BE AN EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME that you may never have once again. I swear to Gawd I was just in college and here I am, at home, listening to Sponge Bob in the distance. You must go. Life passes us all by SO quickly. You can be the president of one thing or another in grad school.

  • April 1, 2009

    I’ve never studied abroad, but I seriously considered it in college, and I turned it down for many of the same reasons (boyfriend, friends, clubs, cost). I really do regret it. I know lots of friends who studied abroad and loved it. It really did change their lives. I say go!

  • April 1, 2009

    Kari, if you have this amazing opportunity, you should definitely take it! I’m a junior in college and I studied abroad in New Zealand last semester, and it was completely and totally amazing! I had some hesitations – I, too, have had some leadership positions in college (though I’m not in a sorority), and I have a long-term boyfriend, who was abroad last spring. But I was encouraged to study abroad, and go for a full semester, because it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You might be able to do something like it in the future if you’re super lucky – but there’s no guarantee! It’s the best time in your life to do long-term traveling – after this, you’ll have a job and maybe eventually a family and at best maybe get a few weeks in a row to travel.

    I did get homesick some in New Zealand, and missed my boyfriend, but I was not miserable, and the good absolutely outweighed the occasional bad. Studying abroad, I grew so much as a person, I met amazing new friends, and I had the experience of a lifetime! You will, too, with Semester at Sea. I sort of wish I could afford a summer at sea thing, too, but I loved any abroad time I could get. I have a friend on Semester at Sea this semester and he is loving it.

    As for jobs, I’m sure with international business studying abroad will definitely matter. My boyfriend got a great internship last summer because he studied abroad – they didn’t hire anyone who hadn’t! So yes, it can help. You aren’t likely to lose much with your leadership positions or with your sorority; in fact, your abroad experience is likely to help you bring a new perspective to your leadership positions!

    In short, do it!

  • April 1, 2009


    GOOOO! You’ll always have your sisters and sometimes it’s nice to be missed by your friends! Have a firm understanding that there any compromise is selling yourself short. Compromises are lose-lose because you are giving something up on both sides. No matter what you do, do it with all of your heart. Take a page out of Lauren Conrad’s book. She is the girl who turned down Paris (during her Teen Vogue stint) for a boy. If you don’t go will you always think I stayed for my friends, football season, functions and mixers? Or if you stay will you feel a pang of resentment for staying?

    I say go while the opportunity presents itself. You have sisters and friends to come back to, but imagine the camaraderie of friends you have yet to meet and the bonds you’ll create traveling the world. You might as well leap for something that you don’t already have in your arsenal! Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly! Cheers and let us know what you decide!

  • April 1, 2009

    You should do it! How many times does an opportunity like this come around? Besides, if you don’t, you may end up regretting it later. I wish I had studied abroad when I was in college, and though I’m making up for it travel-wise now, it’s a lot more difficult these days to have months, even weeks, to dedicate to traveling.

    And that route? Holy crap, I’m jealous. I went to Turkey almost a year ago and I’m still dreaming of it. I can only imagine with Vietnam, Egypt and Morocco will bring.

  • April 1, 2009

    DO IT! I never did any traveling when I was her age and I regret it 🙂

  • April 1, 2009

    Being the president of your sorority is an accomplishment and shows a knack for leadership…would definitely look good on a resume. However, Semester at Sea would be a life changing experience. It will not only look good on your resume but it will give you a new perspective of the world. It’s hard to pass up that kind of opportunity. You’ll still be a part of the sorority even if you don’t run for president & you’ll still have all the friendships. But, who knows if you’ll have the opportunity to see so much of the world in this unique way again…

    My vote, do the Semester at Sea!!

  • April 1, 2009

    you two have some awesome teeth. ya know? I wish my teeth looked like yours. cute post! best of luck to her!

  • April 1, 2009

    OK so maybe it would help to think about it this way (because I had my own doubts about traveling to italy this summer instead of taking classes) :

    when you look back on your college years, what will matter to you more? a sorority presidency, or the experience of a lifetime? the chance to see the world? Maybe the sorority presidency IS that important to her and if so, thats awesome, but if not, GO FOR IT! she’ll get over the homesickness quick enough.

  • April 1, 2009

    Go, go, go!!!
    Having been in a sorority myself, and having studied abroad my junior year, I say you must go. The house and girls will be there when you get back. This is something that will change your life, I promise! You will learn so much about other cultures and history, and best of all, you will learn a TON about yourself. Staying at home is comfortable and leaving is scary, but it’s those times where you step out of the box and into the unknown that you discover who you are and what you’re capable of. And as far as the length of time goes, it will be over before you know it and you’ll wish it was longer…time flies when you’re having fun, and you will be having the time of your life!

  • April 1, 2009

    Go. Run. NOW! RIGHT NOW!!! Ok, I promise to stop yelling at someone I don’t know.

    I studied abroad my junior year. I will admit, I NEVER hesitated about it — despite having a boyfriend, an active role in an organization (albeit not a sorority), and a busy classload. But as excited as I was before I left, once I was there I experienced the same emotional roller coaster as everyone else. I am so excited, I am so scared, I am so miserable, I miss my boyfriend, I love this place, I don’t want to go home…. Studying abroad was the best experience I had in college by far. It gave me a million stories to tell perspective employers (I interned while there) but more importantly it gave me confidence. I knew if I could move to another country, far from family and friends, where I knew no one and barely spoke the language, I could do anything.

    On a more personal note, I met my very best friend there. While I had a million close girlfriends at home, the girl I navigated Italy with suddenly understood me more than anyone else. I was her maid of honor last year, 6 years after our semester in Milan.

    And the boyfriend — he and I made it through. Anyone worth having is going to encourage you to explore (and then come back) and will wait for you to do that.

    Best of luck in whatever you decide (seriously though, go abroad).

  • April 1, 2009

    To Sea hun. Did you ever have a boy friend when you were littler and think that you would just die because you were apart? You didn’t really die even though it was very very important to you then, in the long run, not so much. That is what the presidency would be to you later, life encompassing now, a phase in life later on. You have 2 years to do study abroad still but that time passes quickly and as classes become harder to get because of scheduling restrictions the opportunity to travel vs need to graduate becomes less realistic. Go for it and take the spring. International business happens internationally, you will need the experience there. Cheers!

  • April 1, 2009

    First, I bet she would never be able to see all of those places, much less all at once. It’s just too many destinations to go to on your own and too expensive to travel to them individually. These are cultures that are disappearing, ways of life that will be gone by the time our own children will visit them. How amazing would it be for her to be with such a special group of committed and intelligent students to experience them firsthand.

    My ex-boyfriend did semester at sea, and he was worried about being away for so long, but the friends he made there are still very close to him. He said he’d never experienced anything like it and was so glad he decided to go.

    Ultimately, it comes down to what she’ll regret more. Will she regret taking a few months away from people she already knows and honors she’s already won to learn about new people and places she’s never seen before? Will she look back and say, “I wish I had never gone. I might have been sorority president for my junior AND senior years!” Or will it be, “I really regret being too scared to reach out and take a chance when the fates offered it to me.” But I think we learn the most from doing things that scare us, and the deepest regrets of our lives are in not rising to the challenges that would truly change us.

  • April 1, 2009

    Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your helpful words of wisdom (and keep them coming!)…I’m forwarding every comment to her in hopes it will peer pressure her into taking the plunge =)

  • April 1, 2009

    I couldn’t study abroad because of the money and because the credits wouldn’t apply toward my major. But I did live and work last summer in the Southwest, and every interview I’ve been to since then seems really impressed by that. (I’m from MA).

  • April 1, 2009

    First of all, your sister is GORGEOUS. Like, stupid gorgeous. But that’s totally irrelevant to the rest of this comment, haha.

    The SAS thing? it obviously has to be her choice. If she doesn’t want to go, and knows herself well enough to be fully committed to that decision, than fine, whoever gets to go in her place will be THRILLED.

    I really wish I would have had the opportunity to do something like this, or even to study abroad at all. I paid for school myself and worked multiple jobs to graduate early and just couldn’t swing it. I think, in general, that offers like this come up for a reason, and that she should ABSOLUTELY do it, because worst case scenario is that she HATES it (which she won’t, clearly), and then never does anything like it again. The end.

    I say: when the door is opened for you, walk on through.

  • April 1, 2009

    I’m…uh…15 years out of college (yipes!), so take my advice with that in mind. Here’s my take, from 2 different perspectives.

    As someone who hires people (I work in high tech in New England), I know that Greek involvement at a high level, or studying abroad are both really impressive because both aren’t common and both require commitment and maturity and drive – all things that companies will like to see. Both would get my attention and respect.

    As someone who wishes she’d be more involved in things during college, I know that doing something because you think it’s The Right Thing or Good For You, can be a lousy idea. Whatever you choose, you should light up like a Christmas tree when you talk about it. For me, that’s been the true measure of whether or not I’m into what I’m doing (and this applies to work, to hobbies, to school, EVERYTHING.)

    Good luck.

  • April 1, 2009

    Do what makes you happy.
    Jen (former sorority president and travel fanatic)

  • April 1, 2009

    I’d always choose travel over a soroity. But Kari will have to decide for herself. If she decides not to go I’d take her place if I was 30 years younger.

  • April 1, 2009

    Of course, no one Kari can make this decision, but I’ll offer two items in favor of going. First, you will never again (unless you become a world-hopping journalist like Kristin) have to opportunity to go so many places and experience so many new things. I’d grab hold of that opportunity. Allow yourself to be terrified, unsure, and still willing to take the chance. Allow yourself to hate it some of the time, but to see it through to the times you love it. Second, I am a PhD student in psychology and I’ll tell you that research with thousands of people over the years shows that people regret the things they did not do FAR more than the things that they did do. So the odds are, you’d regret not going more than you’d regret going.

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Good luck!

  • April 1, 2009

    i have also regretted not studying abroad in college. at the time i thought i’d miss out on so much by being gone a semester, but now i know better.

    i also think that we become stronger when we do things that challenge us. the most defining moments of my life were when i was out of my comfort zone and was doing big things that scared me (moving to a new high school several states away my senior year, moving across the country to a place i knew no one, traveling by myself for 2 months). regardless of the travel experiences, i think this has potential to bring forth a lot of character building.

  • April 1, 2009
    Mister Sister

    I really enjoyed the fact that you didn’t put one normal or cute picture of me on here… thanks sis.

  • April 1, 2009
    Mister Sister

    ok… and i just want to point out ONE MORE THING!


    Yes, I was thinking about running for President BUT that is solely because we don’t have many other people that CAN, and I have had a bunch of people trying to talk me into it.

    I am NOT all hard core sorority girl, “Kappa Delta 4 Life!” crap..

    I just don’t want you guys getting the wrong impression..

  • April 1, 2009

    So first off Kristen, I have to give you props. You certainly know exactly how to try to persuade your little sister. Not only did you fill up her inbox….which was very funny, but you now have a number of other people in the debate. I am very impressed.

    I would like to state my case though for everyone to read. I want it to be clear that the “boyfriend” factor has absolutely nothing to do with Kari. Prior to her even being accepted, I have refused to say anything in hopes that Kari will make this decision independently with the concerns of no one else weighing down on her mind. No matter what she decides, I will support her, either her at UT or abroad.

  • April 1, 2009

    Kristin* ……scuse me.

  • April 1, 2009

    My experience studying abroad was amazing. When I got back I felt like I could handle any problem (getting stranded at an Italian train station in the middle of the night and living to tell the story can do that to a person). Since I don’t know Kari personally, I can’t say what is the best decision for her, but I am still friends with many of the people I met abroad and I have some killer stories that will last a lifetime. Plus that is an amazing list of countries to visit. Kari, if you go please post pictures!

  • April 1, 2009

    Regarding Nick’s comment above: I should have made that more clear; Nick is a great boyfriend to Kari, we love him all to pieces, and that’s not a concern for her when choosing whether or not to study abroad. I simply mentioned him as a bargaining tactic–pointing out to her that with separate visits from him, my mom and me (who knows, maybe multiple times each), she wouldn’t have time to get homesick in the 14 weeks she’d be gone!

  • April 1, 2009

    definetly Semester at Sea will be an experience that will forever change her! being out of her comfort zone, meeting new people, getting to know different cultures… and as you said – in the long run, the impact of the traveling experience vs being President will be far superior career wise and just personally – for her own development… plus she can go back to all she is involved with when she gets back! and about being homesick – it’s part of the experience and will help her become more independent and it seems like she will get visitors along the way! so for me it’s a no brainer!

  • April 2, 2009

    I think SOS is an awesome idea, and Kari should definitely go for it!

  • April 2, 2009

    I’m actually surprising myself by being a dissenting voice in this group. One of MY biggest regrets in college was not joining a sorority, because to re-quote a commenter above, you’ll always regret the things you didn’t do. I also studied abroad which was a life-changing experience, and think that everyone who has the chance to should take advantage of that opportunity. So, I think that Kari stumbled upon a great opportunity to do both if she gets accepted to the summer program (let’s not discount the Mediterranean countries vs the Asian countries because…why?! Obviously a family cruise is not the same experience, which is why everyone is calling this once-in-a-lifetime).
    Best of luck on a big decision and when in doubt, I would recommend a pro/con list (see comments above for pros and take sorority members’ input on cons) and then go with your gut. Best of luck either way!

  • April 2, 2009

    You two are just adorable!

    And yes, she should go!! Just think….she was chosen out how many other students? It’s such an awesome opportunity! This will enrich her life much more than president of a sorority.

    Oh, and another question…does your grandfather want to adopt me? I would love the opportunity to go back to school for my masters degree….but with a family and now a mortgage (we closed on our house last week!), there is little money left over for school. Have to have money to travel, you know!!! We are going to Denmark for Christmas.

  • April 2, 2009

    GO GO GO!!!
    When would you ever get that opportunity again?


  • April 2, 2009

    3 words: Just Do It!
    It may even ignite a latent passion for travel…and you know, that will change her life forever!!

  • April 2, 2009

    You already are part of your sorority and in ten years will have that memory, but may or may not have another amazing memeory “semester at sea” Trust me, I also left my sorority to study abroad in Japan junior year, and then left my friends in Chicago to do the Peace Corps post college….NOTHING CHANGES AT HOME. NOTHING. When I returned both times, life was the same, yet my life had become much richer.

  • April 2, 2009

    One of the most surprising things about my study abroad semester was coming home and realizing how little had changed and how easy it was fall back into my life. My only regret? Not going for a full year.

  • April 2, 2009

    Hello, from another Kappa Delta. I did love my sorority, in fact I still do and I have been out of college for over twenty years. Just last month though I chose a week in Haiti over a weekend KD reunion, ground breaking for a new sorority house and (I am sure) a blast of a party. I am sad I missed the weekend, but it was the best option. When I was in college, I ended up passing up the position of Treasurer when I decided to get married my last semester. Looking back, it felt like the right decision at the time and still feels right. You will see, your choices will all work themselves out too.

  • April 2, 2009

    I’ve never been in a sorority or on a semester at sea but if I had to choose, OMG, THE BOAT! THE BOAT!!! Travelling that way isn’t something you’re likely to get the chance to do in “real life” (unless you wind up with your sister’s job!). You’ll have lots of opportunities in the future to be in charge of things . . . but very few (if any) opportunities to spend several months exploring new cultures.

  • April 3, 2009

    GO, KARI, GO!!! This sounds like an amazing opportunity that you just can’t turn down. I wish I had decided to study abroad when I was in college, but by the time I had even considered the option, it was entirely too late. I still regret not going abroad, and now I don’t have the chance since I’ll be starting medical school in a few months.

    The spring Semester at Sea itinerary sounds absolutely amazing and I would totally jump on that if I had the chance. GO FOR IT!

    Do keep us updated on what she decides to do! =]

  • April 3, 2009

    Kari, my younger sister (22) is an accounting major with a minor in international business as well. Her semester in Italy (spring of her sophomore year) was a fantastic opportunity which has opened many doors for her. When she returned to her school the following fall, she interviewed with two of the Big Four firms for their summer internships for the following year. Both were impressed by her semester in Italy (it takes guts to spend a semester away!) and she received offers from both firms.
    When she had her internship last summer, she was offered an international internship in Sweden (!) because she had already proven, by her study-abroad experience, that she could handle and excel in a different environment. (She’s also still active in her own sorority.)
    I had always wanted to study abroad, but my undergraduate program was too crammed with the classes for my major and I didn’t have the opportunity. However, between my senior year and my lone year of grad school, I did manage to find a brief summer program … I backpacked around a few countries (alone, but making new friends in my hostels) both before and after the seminar and had a fantastic time.
    Sure, being President of an organization you enjoy and respect is also a worthy endeavor … but I believe that a study-abroad opportunity can be life-changing. Best wishes to you!

  • April 3, 2009

    The fact of the matter is that this kind of stuff only gets you your first job out of college. Every subsequent job is based on your job performance, skills acquired, and contacts made on your previous job. In FIVE years (5, not 50), it will make no difference to employers if you were president of your sorority or if you were on a boat for a semester. But, I guarantee that if you do end up traveling in five years, you will never go to those countries, or at least it will take you much longer to get to those countries. This is not an experience you will EVER be able to duplicate.

    It seems to me that you do want to go (you know, you applied afterall!) and are just looking for confirmation that this is the right thing. Do not let your sorority sisters make you feel guilty! Go, and enjoy every minute of it! Your sorority will be there when you get back. Promise.

  • April 3, 2009

    I’m chiming in late here but here goes. I studied abroad the Spring semester of my junior year. I was committed to my rugby team who had a chance to go on to Nationals again that year. I got a lot of pressure from my coach to stay, but I didn’t.

    The second I got to Ireland I knew that had I not, it would have been one of my biggest regrets.

    Your sister will remember her experience forever.

  • April 3, 2009

    It was a strange coincidence reading this post as earlier today I was remembering how I nearly chickened out of my chance to do a Masters at University of Toronto (I’m British so it was a VERY long way to go), and how glad I am that I pushed myself and took the opportunity. I was in absolute pieces before I went – I used not to be very good at dealing with change, and I didn’t want to leave my boyfriend, or my job, or my life that I was very happy with, thank you very much. But I held my breath and took the plunge (pushed ever-so-slightly by my parents!) — and I can honestly say it was the best thing I ever did. Trying something new, meeting people, experiencing different cultures and countries is something that will stay with you forever. You also realise when you get back from being away that very little at home changes, and it’s easy to pick up where you left off if you want to. So, in the words of Nike — just do it!

  • April 3, 2009

    Shall I start sending her notes, every hour on the hour, that say “GO. OR HEADS WILL ROLL.”?

  • April 3, 2009

    I say go for it!!! My first job out of college was for a big four firm and I think the summer semester I did in Europe helped me get that job. I interviewed with the managing partner and he was very interested about the time I spent in Europe.

  • April 4, 2009

    I know I’m a little late on this but…
    there are so many reasons why you SHOULD do this but I afraid if I list them all i will trip over my words and not make sense. Life is full of opportunities to live it to the fullest but a lot of us dont have the chance to take those opportunities or we overlook them. this is an opportunity…TAKE IT!

  • April 4, 2009

    being that i am/was mr. mcfratty who spent countless hours on the IFC and Frat executive board at a school where studying abroad meant being real crazy and driving to memphis to learn what it was like to live in a country where everyone should wear a bulletproof vest, i’ll throw my one cent in. do it, do it, do it, just think of all the facebook photo albums you could create. i wish i had. i got so involved with everything at cowbell college that the thought of going away so long was a little intimidating, but now, i wish i had.

    besides, if you don’t, you will eventually graduate, and then get the itch and end up living overseas for 3 years to get the itch out of your system when you could have just gone on a ship with a bunch of cute college guys whom you shared countless adventures and 500 million pictures for your facebook photo album.

  • April 4, 2009

    I know I’m coming in at the end of things, but I wanted to add that I did not study abroad in college, because I was too shy or scared or a whole host of other reasons, and I have ALWAYS regretted it. I would do it and have an amazing time, and I think we are always more likely to regret the things we don’t do than the things we try.

  • April 4, 2009

    I’m late to the party like usual. I just saw your twitter about how she can’t live in her sorority house if she leaves and now I really think she should go. I mean, I thought she should go before, but now if she doesn’t go I would worry that her sisters will think they have control over her life. And that’s just so wrong.

  • April 7, 2009

    seeing as she has this written in the little box under her facebook profile picture…

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    …i think she just told herself to go.

  • April 7, 2009

    Do not pass go…do not collect $200…do not think one more second about this. GO!

    This will more than likely end up being one of the greatest experiences of your life. At the very least I bet you will end up learning all kinds of things about yourself. And I can tell you that learning valuable things about yourself at 20 puts you leaps and bounds ahead of 99.9% of your peers. Credits and Treasurer duties be damned!

  • April 8, 2009

    Kari the KD huh? I had some friends who were KDs….its a good looking sorority…..i was in ZBT….i wonder if they have that at UT

  • April 8, 2009

    oo and I read pledged too….that was an interesting book for sure

  • April 9, 2009

    Weighing in on this very late, but I’m still catching up on blogs. Please tell your little sis to JUMP on the SaS! I wish I would have had this opportunity, but being a scholarship athlete I was unable to take advantage of studying abroad. Richmond is very big into it and I was always so envious of my classmates who got to go and all of the wonderful experiences they had.
    Also, coming from a recruiter’s standpoint (I knew working in HR would come in handy somehow!), I would say that while we look for involvement in campus activities in our college hires, we don’t place emphasis on their leadership roles, especially in Greek organizations.

  • April 11, 2009


    Do it! I’m a second semester senior and not studying abroad is one of my biggest regrets. I’ve spent time abroad, but I’d love to see so much in such a short time. Now I have a lease and a jobhunt to conduct. So do ittt!

    Farmville four love!
    Marian (∑∑∑)

  • June 12, 2020

    You seem living in the dream! This year I planned to start my world tour but had to postponed it due to global covid crisis. As a solo female backpacker, I consider safety should be my top priority. Next year I will start my journey on Thailand and of course planned to do island hopping. I was preparing anything include bought some ferry tickets on duckferries but then I reconsider to join a group or take tour service. Do you have any advice in such situation?

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