By Steven Marowski, '18
Each year, Albion students have opportunity to study all over the world, including Spain, Costa Rica and the Caribbean. Last semester, Nick Smith, a junior from Midland, Mich., and a member of the Britons swimming and diving team, completed a semester abroad through Semester at Sea, a program that allows students to travel and study while aboard a ship sailing the seas. In total, Smith spent 104 days travelling to places including Greece, Italy, Morocco and Brazil. Although the experiences in itself were rewarding for Smith, he says the best part about his trip was his traveling companions.
"The semester was truly full of so many fantastic experiences and opportunities that I have hours of stories, but at the same time, it is evident that the best part was the people," said Smith. "I met some of the most incredible people and made created some of the best friendships that I ever could have hoped for. I am still in contact with eight of my closest friends from the trip on a daily basis, and on a weekly basis with many, many more."
On the academic side of the trip, Smith said that his workload was fairly light. His classes were scheduled for two days out of the week, and once they got to a new country, they had five days to do whatever they wanted in that country. Because the countries were so close for the first month of the trip, Smith says he and his classmates were in class Saturday and Sunday, and they had Monday through Friday off in the country.
Smith took five courses on his trip which included digital photography, business ethics, international political economy, diseases without borders and global studies. The global studies class is one that all students take together on the ship. In total, there were around 600 students on the ship.
As a student-athlete, Smith said that keeping up with his training schedule during his travels was tough. Even though he was on the ship mainly for academic and life experience, he did the best he could to stay on top of his training doing weightlifting and swimming, despite limited equipment.
"My training schedule was very inconsistent," Smith said. "There was a pool on the ship, but it was very small. There was also a small gym with cardio equipment and a small weightlifting area, but overall, it wasn't an ideal semester of training. Needless to say, when I showed up in Texas on Dec. 27 for our training trip, I got my butt kicked."
Even though Smith had trouble getting back into shape for the swim season, he says students should take the trip if they get the opportunity. Smith called his Semester at Sea "the best four months of his life" and says the chance to travel the world is something you may never get to do after college.
Smith is very appreciative for the support from Albion's swimming and diving coach, Jake Taber. He said when he walked into Coach Taber's office to tell him he was going to miss half of the season because he would be on a ship and travelling the world, Taber looked at him as if he was crazy; however, Smith said that Taber was very open and understanding about the opportunity.
"[Taber] said it sound[ed] like an incredible opportunity, and the team would be waiting with open arms when I get back," Smith said. "There aren't many coaches that are that understanding and accommodating, and that's just one of the many reasons I'm proud to swim for Jake Taber."
One major impact from the Semester at Sea on Smith was that he discovered the way he would shape his future. Though he said it opened his eyes to the type of career he wanted to pursue, Smith also said the Semester at Sea put the travel bug in him. To pair his career with his new-found love of travel, Smith has been looking into advising for companies, imports and exports and investment banking.
"After being exposed to the beauty of 20 different countries on four different continents, it seems unthinkable to stop traveling," said Smith. "I have started to look at careers in business that either have long periods of time off, or include a lot of international travel. My future will include a lot of travelling, and that's because nothing else has been more impactful and nothing has made me happier than the Semester at Sea."
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