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Nancy Trout, daughter of fourth-grade teacher Susan Trout and SMCS graduate from the class of 2018, is spending her spring semester all over the world via a program called Semester at Sea. 

Nancy says she learned about it during middle school via YouTube videos, but was reintroduced to the program by her study-abroad advisor at Elon College, where she is a sophomore. 

Nancy and her mom and dad went together in January to Thailand, which was Nancy’s first port where she boarded the ship, and she’s been traveling since then. She’s visited Malaysia, India, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and will go to Portugal and Germany. 

Nancy said during the program she takes college classes when she’s on the boat – she’s studying international marketing and environmental science – and when the boat is in port she is able to travel without having class. 

“Our classes have field classes in one of the ten ports,” she said. “We are able to learn from locals about the topic we are studying. For my environmental science class we are going to a fishery in Ghana to learn about fish population and fishing culture. The courses transfer directly to my Elon requirements.”

The program offers a wide array of classes, so it’s easy for any student to participate, Nancy said. There are about 500 students on board her boat from all over the world, but the majority are from universities in the U.S. 

Nancy said her middle school experience at Saint Mary’s as part of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme influenced her to want to learn more about different cultures. She also said her parents have encouraged her curiousity and desire to see the world.

Nancy said she can’t pick a favorite country or stop; all the ports have been amazing. 

“Thailand and Malaysia were both beautiful and had such interesting cultures that were nothing like I had ever seen,” she said. “India was also amazing – I got to travel to the Taj Mahal and it was breathtaking.”

After India, Nancy traveled to Kenya, where mom Susan was able to join her. 

“Being able to experience my first safari with her was a great experience,” she said.

After Kenya the ship traveled to Mozambique, which had the most beautiful beaches she’d seen, and then to South Africa, where she got to surf, hike, visit local markets, go sand boarding and even sky diving.

While Nancy’s at sea, she’s earning 16 credits. The program does not focus on a foreign language, though Nancy said she’s picked up phrases in each country.

Nancy recommends Semester at Sea to anyone interested.

“I have learned a lot more about different cultures,” she said. “Being able to have experiences and talking with different people about the world has definitely changed my view of the world. I study environmental science and marketing and being able to see the different types of pollution in these areas has been eye-opening.”

Article by Jennifer Janus; photo from Susan Trout.