Senegal is difficult to write about.
After being spoiled rotten in Europe, most people struggled at first when we were suddenly in a place so different from what most of us have ever experienced.
My first day in port left me confused and worried. A large group of my friends wanted to go to Goree Island, which is a beautiful little island 20 minutes from Dakar that also is a very important site in the history of the slave trade. When we stepped out, we were not ready for the aggressiveness of the cabdrivers and shop owners. Getting to the island was a 4 hour ordeal… Since no one in Dakar gives change all of us fresh off the boat went to ATM’s to take out money, and our crisp 10,000 Franc bills were rejected. everywhere.
We accidentally hired two tour guides that day that helped us get change, took us to fabric shops we didn’t even know we wanted to visit, and followed us around all day, even on to the boat to the Island. Some of my friends were angry and put off by their insistence so I, as my usual pacifist self realized that I had to communicate between the two parties. Our tour of Goree Island was nice… I would have loved more time there since it was a peaceful retreat from the hustle of Dakar. Thankfully I managed to go to the most important part of Goree Island.
The slave house here was the final stop for people being taken to the new world. It was incredibly powerful to see the holding cells and selling grounds where families would be split up forever. Walking in, the energy of the place vibrated with pain and loss even after all these years.
The following day I went to mass at a monastery called Keur Mussa. We met with a monk who showed us around the place before the service.
The music used in the ceremony was a lovely mixture of catholic hymns and traditional Senegalese music adapted for worship.
I loved the art on display inside the chapel.
The following day I visited the Holy City of Tuba, which has one of the largest Mosques in Africa. It was quite a drive and once we got there it turned out women not only had to wear head coverings, but pants were also not allowed! Local people were very kind and leant us some fabrics to cover up. In the time while we were waiting, a small crowd gathered around us and took pictures and videos on their phones. It was so interesting to feel like we were the tourist attraction. In the moment it felt kind of odd, but I realize for most of history it’s been the other way around, no?
The mosque was massive and beautiful. We heard so many sounds that definitely were different than Morocco’s calls to prayer to me.
People approached and asked to take pictures with us. It was so funny.
Our last day in Dakar I did an amazing field program that took us to the famous pink lake. However that turned out the be the least exciting part of the itinerary. We went to a Fulani village where we met the chief and his wives, who showed us inside one of their homes. Each wife has her own house where she lives with her kids, and the husband alternates where he sleeps each night to make it fair.
The women were selling handcrafts to supplement their income which is mainly based on farming.
The people were so welcoming and friendly, and it was incredible to communicate even though there were no shared languages at all.
I learned how to say “thank you” in Wolof- it’s “jerryjeff”.
Yes, pronounced like “Jerry-Jeff.”
Then after lunch we stopped on the side of the road to another small community where we watched as they performed their traditional dances! There was a group of drummers, all male, that accompanied an all-female dance group. They came out in their beautiful traditional clothing and did what amounts to a dance off as the music intensified. We were pulled up into the dance floor one by one and had a hilarious time trying to copy their movement. As a crowd from the village gathered to watch us as much as the dancing, some women hopped up and joined the dancers too. The community seemed very close-knit… Of course everyone knew each other, and having large tourist groups come through to watch the “show” must be a common occurrence. It seemed like they were very proud of their heritage and traditions and loved sharing with us.
This last day was truly wonderful because I felt the most human connections of my entire stay in Senegal. Maybe it was getting away from the big city that did the trick.
The first day I was conflicted because I wanted so much to like it. I wanted to have amazingly human interactions with people that have lived incredibly different lives than me, but this was difficult when I was struggling to do the most basic things.
I now realize that I went in with the wrong mindset… you don’t come here to “like it”. If you want to “like it” you go to Cancun. I want to be challenged, I want to embrace feeling uncomfortable and have honest conversations with myself about privilege and issues that I saw play out before me for the first time.
Senegal left an indelible mark in my mind.

Moroccan Roll

My dad called me in Morocco and said “Can you believe you’re the only one in the family that’s touched Africa??”
I quickly reminded him that my Grandmother’s been to Egypt, but conceded that yes, I am incredibly lucky and had to pinch myself constantly.
Morocco is the most different place I’ve ever been to. The language, culture, and religion all made me feel like I had stepped out of my own life.
And it was wonderful. I had the pleasure of doing a field program that had only professors, staff, and lifelong learners. I loved being the only student.
We left bright and early toward the blue city of Chefchaouen. You’ve seen pictures of it, I promise. Even when we arrived at night there was something magical about the various shades of blue. Our tour the next morning was quiet. Only a few shop owners were out, selling bread. In Morocco, bread is subsidized by the government so that any family can afford a basic loaf for only 1 Dirham. It’s a wonderful measure against poverty. The Hammans, or public baths, are also very cheap because it is imperative for Muslims to cleanse their bodies. We did a bit of shopping and then drove to Fez.
(Also, the vegeterian option at every single meal was veggie couscous. I became a bit of an expert. I drank gallons of sweet mint tea and bought some to bring home so if you live with me you can look forward to that.)
Fez was pretty large and had beautiful big gates opening to the medina, which is the city center. Inside there are no cars allowed, only donkeys and wheelbarrows! The sights and scents were overwhelming. Piles of aromatic spices spilled out onto the alleys and hunks of meat hung from the ceilings. There were merchants pulling you and calling you  to their shop. Once you looked like you liked somethingthey would push you to settle on a “democratic price.” I got better at haggling as the trip went on… it’s like the national sport.
We visited the old Jewish neighborhood as well and went inside a quaint temple that had a museum attached.
I became obsessed with the intricately decorated buildings throughout the country. In Islam, depictions of humans or animals are forbidden, so the art work consists of geometric shapes and calligraphic phrases from the Qur’an.
My favorite experience was visiting a mosaic and pottery workshop. The craftspeople were expertly cutting, painting, and carving. The thousands of beautiful fountains and pottery gained a new meaning after seeing how painstaking the process is. One day, when I have a home to put it in, I will get a tiny moroccan fountain.
Can I just say that there is an astoundingly high cat:human ratio here? It’s great.
On the third night I went to a Moroccan variety show with some friends and got pulled on stage to dance with a traditional Berber band! It was super cool and the music was incredible. This super athletic group of five men would throw their drums around and spin them while playing super-intricate rhythms.
Luckily, three-ish years ago, the Moroccan government began to allow women to enter the mosques. I got to visit several beautiful mosques that were alive with prayer. It was nice to step into a peaceful oasis in the hectic medina.
On the way back to Casablanca we stopped in Volobulis, a terrific old Roman city. It was as well-preserved as Pompeii, and they also had great mosaic floors.
The morning before we left I caved in and ate at Rick’s Restaurant, named after the famous one from the movie. It’s kind of a tourist attraction but we still had to go and say we did.
Morocco is beautiful. Some would say it is more culturally similar to the middle east than to West Africa, and in a way showed me a glimpse into a part of the world that I am unlikely to visit anytime soon. It truly made me forget myself and helped me begin to understand many issues in our world today.

Where ya goin? Barcelona.

Spain changed me. There is a beauty in these streets that I haven’t encountered before. The people, the history… I can really picture myself living here when I get bored/exhausted in New York.
Valencia was beautiful and I wish we could have spent more time here… My friends and I walked around the city, ate paella at a Basque restaurant, and observed the beautiful aquarium and science museum. The architecture was exquisite! My favorite thing about Europe is the contrast of time periods that is so apparent in the buildings.
…But that night we ran to catch a train to BARCELONA! We went a day earlier than the ship to really maximize our time.
Day one in Barcelona I went to Park Guell, the beautiful dreamspace created by Gaudi, who is officially my favorite architect. I was so inspired by visiting his home in the park, where he spent his last years designing the Sagrada Familia. I saw the austere room where he lived his modest life, waking up very early to pray and cooking his own vegetarian meals himself. He was an incredible guy.
The following day I visited the Sagrada Familia with my friend Elinor. The following is not a hyperbole-
This is the most beautiful place I’ve been to in my life. The pictures do not do it justice. We got there just as the sun was going down, and the angle of the light through the multicolored windows doused the white marble columns in the most peaceful living watercolor painting I’ve ever seen. Gaudi must have known about chromotherapy.
My Global Music teacher got hired to do a gig in Barcelona and I went to his concert. It was in this amazing hole-in-the-wall music venue filled with cool thin androgynous people… I felt like I was home in Austin. There were three acts that night, and my favorite discovery was Le Parody, a powerhouse one-woman-band and singer. She got up there with her keyboard, ukulele and sampler, and blew me away. (I HIGHLY recommend her albums “Casala” and “Hondo”.) All the people I met that night were kind and wonderful.
I also met some incredible people at a park where I wandered by accident because I heard distant drumming. It was like a circus had descended here, on a Sunday afternoon. Aerialists were doing silks on the trees, there were some crazy slack-line jumpers, people doing juggling, and a whole crew of acro-yogis. I timidly observed for a long few minutes, then went up and introduced myself. They were all wonderful and friendly and helped me with my head and handstands!
Basically Barcelona has the coolest people.
I did a day trip to Montserrat, where one of the oldest schools for music in Europe is still going strong today. I attended mass and heard the world-famous boys choir.
My last day I had a Field Lab for World Geography. We had the enormous pleasure of meeting quite a few folks that are involved in the Catalonian independence movement. I was enraptured with their story and their intensely pacifist road to independence.
I have fallen in love with this city, and am already planning to come back this summer somehow.

Greece Live!

We arrived in the port of Pireus, which is in the outskirts of Athens. I didn’t know this, but Athens is by far the largest city in Greece. Driving in to the center of town felt a lot like Mexico City because the architecture changes in concentric circles going out from the ancient center. I love the contrast between the old, the very old, and the new. My first day was spent around the Plaka district, where I visited the Acropolis architectural museum with a SAS tour. The visit was far too short because I was in heaven. I absolutely adore the white statues, and for the first time I started to see how the anatomical accuracy changed throughout the periods of Greek art. One of my favorite things was this display of how color pigments were created back then.
We went to the acropolis and saw the Theatre of Dionysus which was incredible for me, of course, to be be where it all started. And then we climbed to the top of
 the hill and basked in the glory of the Parthenon while the sun set. We had terrific views of Athens from there. On the way down we stopped on a little hill where we were told Plato’s students did their homework.
For the next three days I travelled to Thessaloniki with an SAS field program. We stopped at Mt. Olympus for a short hike up to the first level of the climb, where the Nymph Pools are. It was such beautiful clear water I just wanted to jump in!
We walked by the National Theatre of Northern Greece and of course I had to see what was playing… ten minutes later I walked out of the box office with a ticket to Uncle Vanya. After a nice dinner with my friends, I headed back to the theatre (no one else was really dying to sit through Chekov in Greek for some reason.)
And the play was spectacular. I speak exactly one word of Greek (thank you = epharisto) and yet I followed the plight of these characters and was really touched. I even got the comedy, which is surprising.
My tour visited the grave of Alexander the Great’s father and then drove back to Pireus. After much deliberation, I bought a Bouzouki! It’s a classic Greek instrument that kinda looks like a big mandolin and sounds like a banjo. I fell in love with it and figured I’ll worry about getting it home later haha….
Honestly, Greece was awe inspiring.



Surprise. You’re in Croatia.

Took the bus to Split with 6 other friends and slept at a very nice AirBnb. Had a great night’s sleep because the next day we went to Krka national park! We had to take a boat to get to the entrance and I felt transported to another world.
This might be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to… the weather was perfectly sunny and the waterfalls were magnificent. We got to swim in the cool waters and hike all around the hills.
After that, we came all the way back to Dubrovnik.

We arrived in the beautiful port town of Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 29th. Though I was still a bit sad over losing Istanbul, the second I saw the gleaming white marble and blazing red roofs, I knew I was going to have a great time discovering a place I knew so little about.

Dubrovnik is a walled city in the southern bart of Croatia (which is split in two parts by a tiny stretch of Bosnia and Herzegovina). In ancient times it was a prosperous trading center that rivaled Venice, and even today that wealth is apparent. The inner parts of “Old Town” are mainly all white stone. Walking down the shiny main street you feel as if inside a giant church. Of course nowadays the town is a hub for tourists, especially since “Game of Thrones” films there and there are a multitude of tours that take you to the locations.

Next day I went to Medrugorje, which is a very famous pilgrimage site for Catholics and Christians from all over the world. In the 1980’s, 6 teenage kids were climbing a hill and saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Since then, millions of people all over the world make the journey every year to Apparition Hill.
The rocks were very steep and difficult to scale. The top of the hill was very peaceful, and it was wonderful to see people praying in many different languages together.
I signed on to do a wine tasting tour with my amazing Geography professor, John Boyer. We went to Milos Winery, where the Milos family has been making wine for 500 years. Yes, that’s half a millennium. They run a small and highly specialized operation, because they only grow one type of grape: the Plavac Mali. The rocky soil and hot climate of this region is perfect for this species, and in the underground cellar I got to see huge 60 year old barrels that held this juice maintain the grape’s excellent natural flavors.
At the tasting they gave us a terrific Rosé that would put most red wines to shame. Then we had their red wine from 2006, and 2003. I was amazed that they were giving us some of their best vintage! 2003 was a particularly hot year, and the grapes got really intense flavors which is awesome but 12 years later. Basically my biggest takeaway is that the wine is a game of patience.
I thankfully had time to go to the war photography museum back in Dubrovnik, which had amazing shots of some of Croatia’s darkest times. It was strange to see photographs of civilians with machine guns walking down the enchanting streets of the Old Town that I recognized. It’s also odd for me to see pictures of a European war that looks so recent. The disintegration of Yugoslavia happened right before I was born and it’s not something that’s covered in school curriculums yet, so I was surprised at how I’d never heard of this conflict and the resulting genocide. That’s the amazing part about SAS… In the days leading up to Croatia our professors realized how little we knew and helped us learn.
On my last day I went to the Isle of Lokrum with some friends, and we had a terrific swim in the sea and saw some lovely peacocks! It was very peaceful, and all too soon we had to come back to the ship.
All in all, Croatia was a fantastic place to visit and I know I will be back soon.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant


Hello, friends. I am in currently in Dubrovnik, Croatia… here is an update of my last port!
Italy was amazing! I visited Rome for a couple of days and saw parts of the city that are more residential and historic in a different way than the massive city center. It was really lovely and I found some gems of places along the way.

The next day I went to Orvieto which is a small city with an amazing network of man-made caves under almost every home. They were used for business, wether it was wine storage or olive oil production of all of the above. There also was a large cathedral that was being renovated.

On the fourth day I took a tour to Bomarzo and Villa Lante. Our first stop was in the Bomarzo “Park of Monsters”, which is this amazing forest where there’s giant rock sculptures that seemingly come out of the ground. Villa Lante is a picturesque town where the Duke built a huge system of waterfalls and fountains and outdoor living spaces- even a self-cooling outdoor dining table. It was gorgeous and a great look into the majestic way that the nobility of small towns of Italy lived. I loved doing these two tours to smaller places because in Italy, aside from Rome and Milan and a little bit Naples, most people live in small cities where life is slower and built on community. They live in places where shops still close at midday and shopkeepers can walk home for a meal. In Orvieto I saw little kids walking to school… some very young. And you just can’t imagine that in a big city like Rome. 
In Naples I had a field lab with my Gender Literature class, and we went to the Naples Archeological Museum, where they house all the frescoes and mosaics and artifacts from Pompeii. It was quite amazing! And then we went to the Borbon tunnels, which started as an aquifer and then became a bomb shelter during WWII, because Naples was the hardest-hit city in all of Italy. I love that Semester at Sea has these class-oriented trips. This is really the way that a global education happens and I am so happy about it!
I had a terrific experience and hope that the rest of the ports are as lovely. 

First week at sea…

… and how to create a terrible bonding experience.

For whatever reason, our first two days at sea, traveling from Southampton to Civitavecchia were some of the rockiest seas almost everyone had ever felt. Even the crew said it was rare and bad… especially when you have 500 poor should trying to live on a boat for the first time. Well, many a barf bag and seasickness pill were used. our maritime “orientation” was basically a miserable experience for everyone involved. Even as excited as we were, all our faces stayed in that slightly disgusted/exhausted frown for the better part of two days. My roommate was smart and surrendered early on, basically sleeping through the whole thing. I attempted to withstand the nausea and actually attended every single orientation event (cue applause), yet I slept through most of them in my heavy for of whatever pills they were handing out like skittles at the infirmary.

And then, on the third magical day, the day classes actually began, the motion of the ocean came to a a calm sway. I attended my classes and held down my food. Hooray! It was like shock therapy, because we the community bonded pretty quickly.

My professors are amazing. The classes I’m taking:

-Gender and Sexuality in Literature

-The Anthropology of Language

-World Geography

-Global Music

The day after they were able to re-open the upper decks, and as we passed the Straight of Gibraltar I stood on the deck with everyone else as Spain and Morocco were simultaneously visible on either side of us. These crossings are, to me, as exciting as the ports themselves. After all, you can fly to Istanbul any day, but you cannot just drop into the middle of the sea.

Also, this ship is nice. Almost too nice for a bunch of heathens like us. Honestly this ship could be a floating Bursley and I’d be happy, but instead we get a beautiful vessel where every inch is decorated. She was actually the set of the German TV version of “The Loveboat”!






Leaving from Southampton

Grand unveiling!
Grand unveiling!
An officer checking the ceremonial champagne.
An officer checking the ceremonial champagne.
There she is. Our new home.
There she is. Our new home.
The Atlantic sunset.
The Atlantic sunset.

The day has come. We christened the ship with a new name for its new life as a floating school. The ceremony consisted of swinging a bottle of Champagne against the side and it was exhilarating! Her name has been changed from the Deuschland to the MV World Odyssey, and we are so grateful to have such a beautiful and safe ship. I kissed my Aunt and Uncle goodbye at the terminal and headed to my new home!

Embarkation took a long time, but once we were all on board the reality of the journey seemed to materialize. I met my wonderful roommate and before I could start unpacking, the ship sailed off into the sunset.

This is going to be an incredible journey for me and I am so grateful to my family and friends for encouraging my adventurous spirit.


— Aline



Bye, New York

Labor day weekend went by too fast and tonight I am waving goodbye to the States until Dec. 21st. On suggestion of my father, my mother and I spent 4 days in New York as a prolonged good-bye. We saw a bunch of brilliant shows and started looking toward the future. Only two short years until I live here! Only two long years until I live here! It was intensely re-affirming, at least, that this is what I want to be doing. I want to create theatre.

Until December, I’m ready to have nothing to have nothing to do with theatre at all!

I was born into a show-biz family, and I’m thrilled to take a step back from it for a bit.

FUN HOME-  intimate, heartfelt, simple.

SOMETHING ROTTEN- hilarious, smart, jolly.

HAMILTON- classic, brilliant, needed.

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS-gorgeous, delightful, lovely.

THE KING AND I- breathtaking, fresh, Kelli.

Hello world- here I come!

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I’m Aline Mayagoitia

I was born in Mexico City. After that it’s all a blur… but at some point I lived in L.A., Miami, and Austin. Now I’m studying Musical Theatre at the University of Michigan.

I love making people laugh and think, mainly because I love to laugh and think. It reassures me of my humanity or something.