SEMESTER AT SEA -Spring 2013

I have traveled around the world but I have not been to the destinations on this voyage. My favorite places have been Japan and South Africa.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu traveled with us from San Diego to Capetown, South Africa! I was able to hear him speak of South Africa's beauty. SAS organized a parent trip and my mother joined me in South Africa and went on a safari with me. Next stop -Ghana!

In the meantime, Vaughn has opened Hostel Habibi in the Hillcrest area of San Diego and is also pursuing a PsyD in Clinical Psychology at Alliant International University.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and I


My mother and I looking out on Cape Point in South Africa

Vaughn R.


Bonjour! My name is Hugo Flores and I’m currently a student at San Diego City College. Over the summer of 2012, I made my dream of studying in Paris, France a reality. I went with Los Angeles Valley College. Many CSU, UC and community colleges throughout California participated in this incredible program.  For me, the program was phenomenal! I got to live in a dorm (Sainte Famille) which provided free meals and other hospitality needs. Also, the dorm I was staying in was the same location where my classes took place. Located in the heart of Paris, the Sainte Famille dorm is run by really nice and generous nuns. It is also next to the Luxembourg garden, the largest and most beautiful garden in Paris.

My daily schedule consisted of getting up at 7:30 am to catch the free breakfast, and then French class started took place from 8:30 to about 9:40. After our French class, we would have a culture class from 10:00 to 11:00 which taught us about the French way of life in. We would then have a couple hours to rest and get ready for our daily walk and field trips at 2:00 p.m. They would last a couple hours so by 4 or 5 pm we would be done. Sometimes we would have events at night. The great thing about the rest of the day when we didn’t have night events was that we had the evening and night all to ourselves to explore. The program also expanded our knowledge by taking us out of Paris for a weekend to the city of Tours, France. Some of the activities I participated in included going to the opera, museums, and gardens. For a day I got to go to Versailles to see King Louis XIV’s palace which was amazing!

Summer in Paris was incredible and no experience will ever come close to it. I completely fell in love with not only the city, but also the culture. The moment I saw the Eiffel Tower I knew that my dream was now a reality. Words cannot even describe the first time you see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and The Arc de Triomphe. I also made a lot of friends during the program, including from around Europe, whom I still keep in contact with today. The experience expanded my horizons and made me want traveling to be part of not only my career, but my life. I’m more aware and knowledgeable about my surroundings thanks to my stay in France. After the program, I promised myself to go back to Paris with Los Angeles Valley College when they return in the summer of 2014.

If you have any questions, concerns or comments about my experience, feel free to contact me. Hugoflores_18@hotmail.com

Hugo F.


I was recently granted the amazing opportunity to be a part of the first group to participate in the Global Institute of Comparative Studies (GICS) “World Capitals” program that took place this summer in Berlin, Strasbourg, and Paris. This program is conducted by Chancellor University and they have started a great study abroad program. There will be more such programs taking place in the following semesters. Like most students, I have always had the desire to study abroad, specifically in Western Europe. I took my dream and turned it into reality this summer and it was definitely one of the best choices I have ever made in my lifetime! I can truly say that it was a life changing experience! People hear that often just like I did but one cannot fully realize the depth of growth that can be achieved by studying abroad until you go. The experiences gained while studying abroad and while living in multiple countries was phenomenal. I learned so much in the two months while in Germany and France that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for this study abroad program. I learned about an array of course material topics, multiple European cultures, western civilization and history, and about myself. And most of it was by pure experience. These experiences ranged from the little things like learning how to converse with the locals during a night out on the town, to finding out that you have to pay for water even if it’s from the tap when at a restaurant.

GICS in partnership with CEPA-Europe facilitated an amazing program! GICS coordinated many educational excursions every week for us to learn in and out of the classroom. There was never a dull moment. One morning I’d wake up to prepare for a tour of the Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg along the Alsace wine route or receive a formal lecture by a member of the German parliament and view the seats of the parliament inside the Reichstag building in Berlin. I learned so much about the functioning of French and German government as well as many contemporary social, economic and political issues the world is facing today. There was much discussion on the effects of globalization as it continues to evolve. These topics were the main focus of the program. These courses changed my perspective on America and the world as a whole. Now I know so much more about the history of our nation and other countries and how we as a globe have arrived at our current state. This program has given me the knowledge and courage to help change this world for the better. I highly recommend to anyone considering studying abroad to take the chance and go. Doing what it takes to make the opportunity possible for yourself will be the best thing you can do for your educational pursuits. If anyone is interested in the World Capitals program, have any general study abroad questions, or about my personal experience, feel free to contact me. enrique.zapata@yahoo.com

Enrique Z.

Costa Rica, Summer 2011

My name is Maurice. I’m a double major in Peace Studies and Labor Studies at San Diego City College. I have been studying at “City” for 2 years working to transfer to UC Berkeley as a Peace and Conflict studies major. My 2011 summer study abroad program took me to Costa Rica, one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse countries in the world. Studying Spanish while living with local families in Costa Rica was a mind-opening experience that allowed me to better communicate with other cultures, and therefore see things from a different, more open perspective.

My daily routine was waking up in the morning, having breakfast with my host family, walking 3 miles to class in the most beautiful landscape anywhere; it was like walking in a nature moving picture every day. I lived in a house with my host family of two adults and two children who treated me like one of their own family members. We went on nature walks, trips to the capital city of San Jose and visited relatives in the countryside. It was the most fun I’ve had in years! I had class during the morning until the early afternoon, then we had a break and lunch made on campus by local people. Sometimes we made lunch as a class which was fun, too. We had local music and dance lessons where I learned new steps that I do today at parties. Pretty cool stuff!

I had the opportunity to interview local workers, where the local economic system is changing from a farming system to a more industrialized economic system. I had the opportunity to speak and interview workers from both systems. We had opportunities to visit the Rain Forest, Cloud Forest, and water falls. I had the opportunity to go on the three-hour Costa Rica water rapids (some of the best rapids in the world that I still brag about). It was the experience of a life time! There was so much to do and learn and I built friendships and had experiences I’ll never forget.

One thing that was different from home was the lack of hot water and having to throw toilet paper in the waste basket instead of in the toilet, but the friendliness of the people is all you remember. Costa Rica is a very social place. People invite you into their homes to have a party or eat home cooking and everyone goes out of their way to make you feel at home. Everywhere there are people sitting out and about just talking and always ready to invite you into the conversation with food and drink. In the U.S. it’s not like that. People walk around rarely speaking to each other. In Costa Rica I knew all my neighbors on the street. We all talked to each other and were invited into their lives. But back home I did not know all the people in my own building. I changed that when I got back home. Now my neighbors and I spend more time outside together in the back yard. It’s a lot more fun now being home after experiencing a different way of life in Costa Rica.

Some of my most memorable moments in Costa Rica were not the hiking in the mountains or visiting volcanoes, it was learning Spanish and being with my classmates sharing new experiences together. For future study abroad students, I think it’s really important to branch out and see the world from different perspectives. It’s difficult at first but once you do things that are outside your comfort zone, you realize things are more than just about what’s happening in your own country or even just about yourself. You learn how we are really connected, that what happens somewhere else or at home is not an isolated event but is tied together in a common thread. Costa Rica was an amazing experience for me! Being an ambassador for the U.S. and for my school was incredible! My advice is to take any chance you can get to study abroad and try a new experience. It’s really important. My next study abroad destination is Mexico City. Can’t wait to see what experiences are waiting for me there. It won’t hurt you when you’re ready to transfer either to be able to say, “I’ve studied in……..........”

Update: I will be transferring to California State University Dominguez Hills in Fall 2013 to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peace Building with a minor in Labor Studies. Studying abroad opened doors for me that I could not have imagined both personally and academically.

Maurice M

buenos aires, argentina - fall 2010

Norman S.Hello Everyone, I want to welcome you to the study abroad family here at City College. My name is Norman. I studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the Fall 2010 semester through San Diego City College.  I selected Argentina as my study abroad destination to continue learning Spanish and immerse myself in a new culture.

While living abroad I chose to live with a host family. My Argentine parents’ names are Martin and Luz. They treated me as if I had been in the family all my life. I still keep in touch with them today. I just got accepted to a University and the advisor highlighted my study abroad experience as a positive. (I also studied abroad during Spring 2008 in Salamanca, Spain and was awarded a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship to help me do that).

Now that I have experienced these incredible cultural immersion programs, my life has been changed forever. I have become more fluent in Spanish, self-confident, increased my self-esteem, become more independent, self-sufficient, and open to other cultures. And I have caught the travel bug!!! In May 2012, I look forward to visiting Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Island. In 2013-14 I hope to fulfill my dream to travel throughout South East Asia. This is how much the study abroad program at San Diego City College has changed my outlook on life. Regarding my career goals, I plan to move to a developing country to give back and be productive.

Update: I am currently attending Southern New Hampshire University. I am majoring in Computer Science. I've been accepted into my International MBA/w Computer Science which I will start in spring 2014. On May 19th, 2013 I  finished my 100 hrs TESOL/TEFL certification course training which will allow me to teach English all over the world. I will be taking my Asia tour next year as I travel to Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and a few other nearby countries as well. My ultimate goal is to teach in China for a year.                                                                                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Norman S.


Ryan Whitacre "Buenos Aires is a vibrant, beautiful and fascinating city that I knew nothing about before the study abroad program. Truthfully, I knew very little about South America. Participation in the program revealed engaging insights and wonderful truths about the city, the country and the world. While exploring my neighborhood, which was conveniently located in the heart of the city, participating in the Anthropology and Spanish courses offered, or traveling to Iguaçu Falls, perhaps the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, I was repeatedly struck by the vast expanse of cultural and natural brilliance. While a participant in the program, I applied to UC schools and I am confident the experiences and perspectives gained in Argentina helped me get into and graduate with High Honors from the UC Berkeley Department of Anthropology. While a student, accompanied by a number of other San Diego City College study abroad alumni, I served as chair of the Anthropology Undergraduate Association, wrote an honors thesis that won a departmental award, and delivered the commencement speech for the class of 2011. Since graduation, I have worked as a Research Associate for the Center for Innovation and Technology in Public Health, an arm of the Public Health Institute, using skills gleaned from anthropological analyses of medical topics to inform public health and public policy initiatives. In fall 2012, I will begin the UC San Francisco-UC Berkeley joint PhD program in Medical Anthropology, where I will continue studying vitally important issues, such as economic and political battles over water rights in Riobamba, or life and death among children in Brazil, topics I was first introduced to while studying abroad through San Diego City College, a program and a school I continue to be grateful for. And I am also pleased to share that I was just awarded a three-year Graduate Research Fellowship by the National Science Foundation!

If you have questions about my experience, please feel free to contact me: ryanwhitacre@gmail.com

Ryan W.

"I was awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in the amount of $3,000 in order to help pay my expenses to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Fall 2008 I would have not been able to go without this prestigious scholarship. This experience has had a huge impact on my life since then because I left the U.S. not knowing what I wanted to do with my future. I came back with a better sense of myself and the world around me. I studied mostly Spanish and Latin American politics, and that has had a tremendous influence on my ideas for future academic endeavors and career paths. When I finished the program, I continued traveling to Chile and Peru. Once I returned to the U.S., I went on to finish my B.S. in Psychology, and I am currently in school again for my Master's degree in Public Administration. I am also a full-time pre-school teacher and most of my recent jobs have been in education. I highly recommend the study abroad experience to everyone, not only for the educational experience, but because it enriches your life and leads you to appreciate your own country after you have been outside of it."

Ellen K.

"I had the pleasure of studying abroad in Buenos Aires in the Fall 2008. Our group was the pilot group for this study abroad destination and we had some great experiences. Spending a semester in the capital of Argentina truly opened my eyes to new experiences. Our classes included anthropology, History of Latin America, Spanish immersion courses, and a very interesting Argentine Life and Culture course.  Our program was very well organized when it came to extra curricular activities as well, including  the opportunity to go to a hacienda outside of the city and experience the life of a gaucho first hand. The classes were held in a language school in the charming neighborhood of Recoleta which made for a very beautiful study environment. 

This study abroad experience was one of the sparks that kindled my desire to get a degree in International Business at San Diego State University with an emphasis in Latin America. Being multicultural in this increasingly interconnected world is a very important asset to have. An eye-opening experience such as studying abroad is vital to understanding the world we live in. I have just completed a internship at South American Explorers club in Cusco, Peru which allowed me to work first hand in South America and see how business is done in a different culture. Living in a foreign country and working or studying abroad is a life-changing experience and everyone who gets a chance to do so should take advantage of it."

Richard R.

"I was privileged to study in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the Fall of 2008 through San Diego City College. This semester was my first extended international experience, and it still lives strongly inside of me through my daily outlook on the world. I was deeply inspired by the beautiful ways in which different people live their lives, and it pushed me further into my love and interest in music and anthropology. I have since continued my study of these two subjects at the University of California, Berkeley. I am currently in my third year and I will be going to London during summer 2012 to do field research as a part of my undergraduate honors thesis. I am studying street music as a cultural anthropologist.

It is my opinion that all students should have the opportunity to experience the life-changing and abundant benefits, both academic as well as personal, that come from studying and living abroad. I would not have been able to study abroad without the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, nor would I be where I am now without other scholarships. I encourage students to apply for them regularly as there are many out there and they make dreams come true. Best wishes and happy trails!"

Beau D.


"My name is Amanda. I participated in the Summer 2008 Study Abroad Program in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I was fortunate to receive a small scholarship to participate in the program. My homestay family was very welcoming and taught me a lot about Mexican culture. The house was clean and safe and within walking distance from school. My class size was about 5 people. As a result, we really connected and built strong relationships. Our classes were held outdoors in the garden or school patio. The total immersion greatly improved my Spanish. The short term program was convenient being that I am a non-traditional student. Therefore, it was feasible to take a month off from my responsibilities to take part in this amazing adventure.

My summer abroad was the starting point of my travel bug. Since then, I transferred to San Diego State University and also studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Every experience has increased my cultural awareness and sensitivity towards others. My most amazing experience was studying abroad with Semester at Sea! I traveled through the Mediterranean including to Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco. Upon graduation, I started my career path as a program assistant with the United States – Mexico Border Health Commission. It was the combination of my cultural competency and language skills that enabled me to obtain my position.

I highly recommend studying abroad as a means of self-development, career development, adventure and cultural awareness. We live in a globalized society in need of globalized leaders. Studying abroad whether it be a short term or long term program will make a tremendous impact on your world view. Lastly, I highly suggest applying for scholarships and fellowships. Do not let money get in the way of your education and your development. There is a lot of support once you decide to take the step forward.

Happy traveling!"

Amanda C.

"My girlfriend and I participated in the SDCC Study Abroad program in the summer of 2007. We went to Cuernavaca, Mexico for 4 weeks to study Spanish at 'Universal.' The classes were difficult but rewarding. The greatest part of the experience was the wonderful weekend excursions where we got a real appreciation and some depth of understanding of the rich Mexican history and culture. Living in the home of a reasonably typical Mexican family was enlightening as well. We still have contact with some of the other participants. We both recommend a study abroad experience as a meaningful part of gaining an education!"

Jack P.

"During summer 2006 I went to Cuernavaca, Mexico to study intensive Spanish after my 2nd semester at City College. I had loved going places and learning about other cultures from my world travels with the U.S. Navy. Since no one else spoke English in Cuernavaca other than the other students in my homestay family, we HAD to apply what we learned in class just to get around. We went all over the city from the movies, to the mall, and to just about every night club. We even went on excursions to Mexico City and Acapulco on weekends. I had a blast and I learned so much more in Cuernavaca than in my Spanish class in San Diego because I applied what I learned in class almost immediately with the people in Cuernavaca.

Today I use Spanish all the time for my work as a Marketing Broker for Legal Shield. I help with the interview process in person and with my Spanish website, legalshield.com/mem/oamason, I am able to assist the Spanish-speaking community all over the U.S. And I owe it all to my decision to join the study abroad program with the help of City's Study Abroad advisor who helped me and all the other students every step of the way."

Odell M.

"I studied abroad in Cuernavaca, Mexico during the summer of 2005. I wanted to study abroad because I have always been very interested in learning about other cultures. I had taken Spanish in high school and wanted to continue learning the language. Language immersion was a great excuse to travel and also a strategic way to learn a language while receiving school credit. What's not to love! Living in Cuernavaca for a month made me all too aware of gross disparities in wealth people can suffer from. It made me want to work with human rights. I graduated from UCSD as a Sociocultural Anthropology major, and Human Rights minor. I am currently interning at the International Rescue Committee and will be serving in AmeriCorps at the International Rescue Committee starting September 2011."

Jamie S.


"I participated in the San Diego City College Study Abroad Program during spring semester 2004 in Cannes, France, on the French Riviera. I was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, which, together with my Pell Grant, paid for the cost of the program. I certainly would not have been able to go without the Gilman scholarship. As an archaeology/anthropology major, the opportunity to visit both prehistoric and historic sites made the program absolutely priceless! I am still studying the French language. Study abroad in France was complete immersion, which gave me an awesome foundation in the language.

I graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and currently work as a professional archaeologist in Southern California specializing in desert archaeology."

Michael T.