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.