Marilyn Rocco

Briefly describe your applied learning experience

In the Fall of 2017, I embarked on the journey of a lifetime--Semester at Sea. This progam, now through Colorado State University, allows hundreds of students every semester to travel the world on the MV World Odyssey while taking classes. I started my journey in Bremerhaven, Germany, where we spent our first day on the ship. Over the next four months, I traveled along side 600 other college students from around the world to Spain, Ghana, South Africa, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, China, Japan, Hawaii, and ended in San Diego. This voyage changed my life and allowed me to experience things I never have before; I watched the sun rise from atop Table Mountain in Cape Town, I rode around Kochi in a tuk-tuk, I ate my weight in the freshest sushi in Tokyo, and I danced the night away with my friends in Shanghai and Barcelona. Semester at Sea took learning from a traditional setting and made my classroom the vast ocean. While some students actually graduated at the end, others were just beginning their collegiate careers. I was able to take oceanography, ecology, and biodiversity--each crucial to getting my degree back at my home university. I wouldn't wanted to have my senior year any other way. 

How did you get involved in this applied learning experience and what did you hope to gain from it?

I was able to get involved in Semester at Sea because I heard about it from a friend. The website is actually very easy to navigate and they offer help through the student desk at CSU. I was hoping to learn about various cultures by being able to fully immerse myself in the communities we visited. My voyage opened my eyes to so many different traditions and values. 

What did you gain from this experience? What was challenging? What did you learn?

There is a quote I have come across multiple times as I have had different opportunities to travel. Spoken by Maya Angelou, it goes as follows: "Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” I believe this quote perfectly links the effects of traveling and someone's outlook on the world. Studying abroad has helped me become a stronger, more confident, global citizen. Something I learned while on the Semester at Sea Fall '17 trip is the idea of believing a "single-story." This is when a person believes something they have heard about a country or a group of people, and then it becomes ingrained in their thoughts about that place. Honestly, it was hard in some countries to go in with an open mind and to not be afraid, but doing so changed my experience fully. Studying abroad has allowed me to see that believing a "single-story" only hinders your ability to learn and your sense of adventure. Unfortunately, humans have formed communities and groups based on a single shared identity. This stops them from being comfortable with letting "others" in or stops them from wanting to travel.  Studying abroad has taught me the importance of emerging myself in another community so that I can learn their traditions, their values. Studying abroad has taught me what it means to be a global citizen -- breaking down the ethnocentric barriers that keep us from experiencing something great.

In what way will this experience make you a more viable candidate when you are seeking a job or applying for graduate study?

This experience had shaped me into becoming the globally-aware person I have always wanted to be. I believe that jobs want to be applicants that are well-rounded and are able to speak upon experiences that have changed them for the better. I cannot think of a better program to do so than Semester at Sea.