MCLA

Semester at Sea

02/16/2011

Laura Nylic '10 of Cheshire, Mass., spent last summer having the adventure of a lifetime: She sailed around the world as she explored and learned about Canada, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco during a Semester at Sea.

Nylic lived on board a ship with other college students. She attended three classes during the days they were at sea - "Social Movements," "Women and Mental Health" and "Global Studies."

Highlights of the trip included going to Rome, Italy, to visit St. Peter's Square, where she saw the Pope giving Mass, and visits to the Coliseum, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. Nylic also watched the sunrise at the pyramids in Egypt and saw the Sphinx. She also visited the Acropolis in Greece.

"Those are things I didn't ever think I'd see before I decided to go on this trip," she said. "I still can't believe I was there. Other things I really enjoyed were hiking a volcano in Naples, Italy, called Mount Vesuvius on the Fourth of July, and sea kayaking and snorkeling in Croatia around islands and inside coves and caves. There were so many 'best' experiences during this trip I could go on and on."

However, parts of the trip were difficult for Nylic, who majored in sociology with minors in social work and criminal justice. Those experiences gave her a new appreciation for the United States.

"In some of the places, people lived in poverty. Seeing their homes, clothes and some people begging for money made me see things differently," she explained. "In Egypt, I went to an orphanage run by a husband and wife, where the kids will live there until they get married or are old enough to live on their own. In my 'Women and Mental Health' class, I learned that there is no adoption in Egypt. I felt badly for those kids. I also felt badly for the women who can't have children, because that means they can't adopt, either.

"Also in Egypt, people would be swimming with garbage at the beaches, like plastic bottles and bags," Nylic continued. "I remember driving by a river where you couldn't even see the water because it was so full of trash. There was a lot of pollution there. Those things made me realize how lucky I am to live in America."

Her favorite city was Istanbul, Turkey.

"Istanbul had the Grand Bazaar that sold just about anything you can think of, like scarves, clothes and jewelry," she said. It was so big, you could get lost inside. There was also a spice market that sold tea, spices, dried fruit and a lot of the same things that were sold at the Bazaar, just smaller. I loved to bargain for things."

One country was a surprise to Nylic.  

"I knew nothing about Croatia before I went on this trip, and when I got there I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. The water was gorgeous. It was like a tropical vacation destination. The water was the most amazing blue I've ever seen," she said. "One day, I went to a mountain village with a group of students and people who treated us like their own family. They cooked us a homemade, traditional dinner and the women did a traditional dance, all dressed up, while a man played the fiddle. Their patio had grapes growing all over. It was a beautiful place; a time I'll never forget.

"You can read about other countries and cultures, but when you actually get to go there and see it and experience it firsthand, I think that's where you learn what the books can't teach you," Nylic said.