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SCC Student Studies at Sea for Nearly Half a Year; Sees 27 Countries

Aug 28, 2013 - | 10:18 AM -

Raj Patel
Raj Patel (left) is shown here with Staff Captain Jeremy Kingston.
Raj Patel
Raj Patel (center), shown with his Semester at Sea roommate Phil Bergen (right) and Lisa Marshall. Bergen attends The Citadel Military School of South Carolina and Marshall attends the University of Virginia. The photo was taken in Hilo, Hawaii, the first stop on Patel’s Semester at Sea itinerary.
Raj Patel, a Computer Information Technology major at Somerset Community College, recently returned from a five and a half month trip around the world on board a ship with the Semester at Sea program.

Patel, age 21, said he loves to travel. A native of India who has resided in the United States most of his life and is a 2010 graduate of Rockcastle County High School, Patel heard about the Semester at Sea program while he was traveling around domestically in 2011. While in San Francisco visiting family, Patel had the opportunity to speak with two businesspeople who asked if he had thought about studying abroad and introduced him to the Semester at Sea program.

“My interest in the program quickly grew and sooner than I knew it I was applying to the program,” Patel said. “I was accepted and quickly became excited to sail around the world.”

While at sea, Patel had four classes – engineering, two psychology courses and a history course. Patel said life was very different, especially because of the limited contact with the outside world.

“Ship life was absolutely amazing,” he said. “There was no cell phone service, two hours of internet time for the entire semester (not daily) and during breakfast, lunch and dinner you would talk to your soon to be best friends for hours on hours.”

Patel was gone for almost six months and, during that time, traveled to over 27 countries.

“I started from Kentucky, circled around the world and stepped back onto US soil coming from the other side,” he said. “I've had the privilege of attending the world Sumo Championship in Japan, climbing the Great Wall of China, staying at the highest hotel in the world with my roommates in Hong Kong at the Ritz Carlton, seeing the war museum in Vietnam, learning about the Pol Pot Regime in Cambodia, experiencing life in a nunnery in Myanmar, diving with great white sharks in South Africa and biking 150 miles across Ghana…and much, much more.”

Patel plans to graduate from SCC in May 2014. He is currently planning his next adventure down under into the outback of Australia, the mountains of New Zealand and the white beaches of Fiji in January. While attending school, Patel also works for AT&T and says he is saving every bit of money only for travel.

Patel said he has been thrilled with the guidance and assistance he’s received while being a student at SCC and credits the school and his professors with helping him figure out his next steps.

“Somerset is a very good school, especially as a stepping stone in order to get to where one wants to be,” he said. “In my case I knew what I wanted in my life and currently SCC is helping me get there. Next summer I plan on interning at one of the biggest Audit/Tax/Advisory Consulting Firms in the country with Ernst & Young and I believe SCC will be playing their part in helping me do that.”

In terms of travel, Patel offers one piece of advice: “For anyone that wishes to travel but constantly thinks they don't have the money for it should definitely reconsider their priorities and do whatever it takes to go out and experience the world. There is so much to see outside of the United States let alone Kentucky. Go out and get it, it’s your world to see!”