For four months, waking up in a new country every week was normal. I was constantly on the move in unfamiliar surroundings. For 53 days the view out of my window was the seemingly endless, open ocean. In my free time I was lucky enough to witness dolphins swimming in their natural habitats, a whale shoot water out of its blowhole, and the buoy that floats at and marks 0°, 0°, the center of the world. The remaining 53 days I spent my time exploring Wonders of the World in China and India, fishing villages in Vietnam, and Medinas in Morocco – just to name a few amazing places.

I was lucky enough to participate in the 126th Semester at Sea (SAS) voyage, an experience I will be grateful to have had for the rest of my life. I returned home to Rhode Island in May with fifteen new stamps in my passport, infinite memories, and plans to complete a second internship with KSA Marketing + Partnerships.

Simply stated, Semester at Sea was life-changing. Being constantly on the move during my SAS time, I learned to adapt quickly, a skill that will prove to be beneficial in a multitude of settings. Most importantly I learned about the danger of a single story. Our ship docked in Myanmar as the country’s own government persecuted (and continues to persecute) against its Rohingya Muslims. We entered the country during a genocide, afraid of the ugly we could encounter, only to be met by some of the kindest, most welcoming people Earth has to offer. These people wanted us to see the beauty in their country that many people do not even know exists.

We docked in India mere days after the country bombed Pakistan, as it seemed to be awaiting retaliation. We waited for the announcement stating we were to be rerouted, but that announcement was never made. Instead we continued on to the port of Cochin, India.

While in Cape Town, South Africa I had the privilege to visit Robben Island, the island where Nelson Mandela as well as those infected with leprosy and other prisoners were held during apartheid. While walking through the living quarters, other visitors flocked to the cell where Mandela resided, anxious to take pictures to show their friends or online followings seemingly ignorant to the fact that Robben Island was not only about Mandela, but the thousands of others who were imprisoned on the island for fighting for their rights or for being sick.

These are just a few of the jarring experiences I had during my semester abroad. You sure could say I learned a whole lot about perspective. Though these are rather morose examples, experiences like this taught me it is important to look at the whole picture and evaluate all the details before coming to a conclusion. There is always more than one way to look at something. Whether it be a person, place, or client one must consciously avoid jumping to a conclusion.

Growing up in suburban Rhode Island, I’ve never truly had to worry about my home being bombed, or my own people severely turning against me. These experiences also showed me the true importance of empathy. Participating in Semester at Sea allowed me to enter the environments where tragedies like this happen. Having the chance to see the lasting aftermath of tragedies such as these showed me how important it is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes when interacting with them at practically any level.

The four months I spent over (and on) seas were the best four months of my life so far. Though the memories I made will stay with me for the rest of my life, all good things must come to an end. I returned home in May ready for my next adventure, my second internship with KSA.

A large portion of the student body at the University of Rhode Island, the place I usually call home September to May, call New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut home. I often find myself jealous of my classmates who have the ability to so easily intern in New York City as the city provides endless opportunity to intern with leading companies. However, after completing my fall internship with KSA I felt the industry experience I gained was not only comparable, but far more comprehensive than the experience my peers gain during their internships in New York City.

At KSA, interns are held to a high standard. We are expected to work to the potential the team sees in us during our interviews. During my time at the Tide Mill last fall, an intern was let go, leaving me as the sole intern for the semester. As the only intern, more fell on my plate. This allowed me to improve my research skills while also teaching me how to efficiently manage my time. Fortunately, being the only intern allowed me to take a bigger role in clients’ marketing campaigns. I felt I was invited to do more than the average intern.

KSA’s small size allows interns to take an active part in clients’ marketing campaigns; us interns do far more than make copies and staple papers. So naturally upon my return to the States, making the choice to complete a second internship at KSA Marketing + Partnerships was a no brainer.

Though the Tide Mill is a familiar setting, a lot has changed since I was last with the team in the fall. As an agency, the team is always taking on new clients which keeps everyone on their toes. There is virtually no time for boredom in the office.

During my time with KSA in the fall I spent most of my time working with local businesses such as Scialo Bros. Bakery and conducting research to assist with a social media campaign for the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED). This summer, I will miss working with the local client ‘A-Team’. However, I’m excited to take on new challenges. I am also constantly reminded everyone at KSA works together. When needed, everyone comes together to support the clients, regardless of their size, to help them achieve their vision for their company.

As corny and cliché as it sounds, one of the most important realizations I came to while I was away was that a smile is universal. I never dread walking into the office in the morning as I’m always met with a warm welcoming smile. The Tide Mill is often filled with laughter, and is the kind of environment I enjoy being in. I chose to come back to KSA, because I am not perceived as too young, or too inexperienced to take an active role on the team. Instead, the KSA team members have all taken me under their wing and taken the time to teach me. They welcomed me on my first day in September of 2018 with open arms and continue to do this every day I am in the office.

I am looking forward to seeing what my second internship with KSA brings me. For now I’m hoping for more learning experiences working with international giants like PepsiCo, and maybe a cupcake or two during a meeting with Scialo Bros. Bakery.