Cathy Palombi, Access Services Librarian at the University of Virginia School of Law Library, sailed around the world with the Semester At Sea program this past fall with 700 undergraduates and 100 faculty and staff from all over the country. UVA sponsors this “floating university,” which has been in existence since 1963, and each semester a librarian and an assistant are selected to assist the students and faculty with their courses. And yes, there’s a real library on board, with 10,000 volumes and access to all UVA databases.
Classes are held while the ship sails from port to port, and the learning continues in each country, where students and faculty participate in course-related experiences as well as independent travel. The ship departed on August 26 from Norfolk, VA and stopped in the Bahamas, Brazil, Namibia, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Hawaii and Costa Rica, before returning to Miami December 15.
Favorite country? Vietnam
Most memorable experience? Overnight home-stay in Japan
Most eye-opening experience? The poverty everywhere (townships in Cape Town, etc.)
Greatest challenge? Staying upright on the ship’s treadmill for most of the four months
Best food? Malaysia
Ship surprises/memories? The incredible slowness of the Internet, a bigger cabin than expected, worse food than expected (how can that be possible?), outstanding crew, and some really remarkable students and faculty.
Here is Cathy's blog about her experience: http://seecathyatsea.blogspot.com/