Small town girl in a big world: Flagler College globetrotter ready for Semester at Sea

Photo submitted by Alyssa Peters

By Annika Minton

Alyssa Peters does not carry the weight of the world on her shoulders: rather a tattoo of the world on the back of her neck. To her friends and family, this is her trademark. The outline of all of the continents inked on her skin will forever serve as a reminder that there is a whole world out there to see.

The Flagler College sophomore is ready for her 2020 Semester at Sea, where she will take classes on a cruise ship while journeying to 11 countries, 13 cities and four continents — all in 106 days.

“Sophomore year of high school, I found out about Semester at Sea, and I knew right then I wanted to do it,” Peters said.

Pursuing a hospitality and tourism major and an international studies minor at Flagler College makes perfect sense for this lifelong learner. Her “self-discovered love and passion for travel” allows her to hold the world in the palm of her hand.

Most people never reach the level of independence it takes to leave home to go to college on a cruise ship while quite literally traveling around the entire world.

But Peters is no stranger to independence.

When she was 16 years old, right in the middle of high school, her parents divorced, and the only life she had ever known was split in two. However, adversity is not something that Peters lets get in her way of enjoying life to the fullest. When one of her parents moved away to Florida, she took that as an opportunity to explore a new place.

Attending college 1800 miles from home was never part of her life plan, but Peters chooses to embrace life by her favorite mantra: “Everything happens for a reason.”

Peters said the most thrilling part of traveling abroad is “going somewhere with no prior expectations.”

Photo submitted by Alyssa Peters

Growing up in the small mountain town of Salida Colorado — where the closest city is a two hour drive, far from any chain restaurants and name- brand stores — engrained a deeper appreciation for city life into Peters’ mind.

Ever since her first vacation to Hawaii as a little girl, Alyssa has wanted to see the world. Experiencing all that this world has to offer is her raison d’être.

Years after going to Hawaii, Peters was in high school and found that her travel bug had not gone away. Restless, she no longer wanted to be in her comfort zone, so she decided to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica her freshman year of high school.

Little did Peters know, that trip would be the most rewarding journey she had ever taken. She discovered her true passion for visiting new places and learning something new from everyone she met along the way.

Peters knows that most learning occurs out in the world, as opposed to in a classroom, which is why she expects to learn the most from her Semester at Sea by immersing herself in each country she visits and each culture she experiences.

Peters and about 500 fellow Semester at Sea classmates will visit a total of 11 countries, departing from San Diego, California, in January and ending in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in April.

In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, Peters is making sure her journey does not end in Amsterdam. She plans to spend the month after her semester backpacking around Europe with one of her best friends, staying in hostels and soaking up all the new experiences she possibly can.

Peters’ friends are constantly in awe of her love for adventure and her spirited energy that brightens up every room she dances into.

Ana Finotti, Peters’ roommate, says the best way to describe Alyssa to someone who has never met her is “adventurous and open-minded.”

“She is always searching for new places and new experiences,” Finotti said.

As a child, sitting in front of a globe and admiring the vastness of the world was something Peters indulged in every chance she got.

“Each country will teach me something different,” Peters said. “People who have so much less than us are so much happier than us.”

Peters is fascinated by the fact that people in the United States always want more, but people in other countries are just happy to be alive.

“[I look forward to] gaining a very different cultural perspective from each country that I get to visit.”

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