Spend 50 days on a voyage to five countries with 300 youth ambassadors from 11 different countries — the coolest youth exchange programme, perfect for avid travellers. Sign up here.

Hot Air Balloons over Bagan Myanmar - SSEAYP Youth Exchange

If you’re getting tired of the typical “tourist-y” trips where you just eat-shop-sleep-repeat, how does going for something a little more unconventional sound? Imagine yourself going on a long-term trip where you’re living in a hostel, meeting people from all over the world, travelling to five different countries, and living like a real local. If that sparks joy in the travel bug in you, then you’ll want to read this.

Oh yeah. We forgot to mention: this hostel moves. On the sea.

Nippon Maru Ship - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Ta-da. Photo credit: ybox.vn

In one huge nutshell: SSEAYP (or the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme) is a 50-day youth exchange programme that visits five countries on a cruise ship.

It's The Ship GIF - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Not this one. This is something else. Video credit: Livescapeasia via Youtube

It’s not related to It’s The Ship (the music festival cruise), but it’s still a pretty unique experience. This youth programme lets you sail alongside 300 youths from ASEAN Member States and Japan, travel to five Asian countries, engage in fun cultural activities, and experience homestays.

Believe it or not, this annual programme has been around since 1974. This year, SSEAYP 2019 will sail from 23 Oct – 13 Dec 2019 to ports of call in Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.

Enjoying the Views in Japan Hiroshima - SSEAYP article

Other than checking five countries off your bucket list, here are five other reasons why SSEAYP might just be the coolest year-end travel opportunity for any youth who wants an experience of a lifetime! I’m looking at you, uni and poly students. 👀

1) True-Blue Local Experiences At Each Port of Call

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon Myanmar - SSEAYP Youth Exchange

This year, SSEAYP will make ports of call at Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Vietnam. Sure, you may have visited in these countries before. But have you stayed with a local family in each of them? (Your own family doesn’t count.)

One of SSEAYP’s coolest highlights is that all youths get to experience a local homestay in each country. It’s not always easy finding a family that will host you in a homestay when travelling on your own, so SSEAYP has that difficult part settled. What’s next for you is just having adventures with your foster family!

Taking Photos of Japanese Bamboo - SSEAYP Youth Exchange

Having Meal with Vietnamese Homestay Foster Family - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Photo credit: @eyllnuramalina_ via Instagram

From sharing home-cooked meals together to exploring the city, you can expect the ultimate authentic experience that’ll make others envious. While most travellers stay in accommodation like hotels, hostels and Airbnbs, you’re out embracing the local way of life and seeing these five countries in a refreshingly different way. Just one more thing to check off your bucket list!

2) Level Up Your Social Skills

Group of People Looking Out to Sea from Cruise Ship - SSEAYP Youth Exchange

If you’re the type of traveller who loves having meaningful conversations with other travellers, but gets sweaty palms at the thought of initiating them — high-five, we have that in common. Luckily, SSEAYP has loads of opportunities for youths to easily meet and chat with one another all day, every day.

Part of the main programme includes discussions about social issues like healthcare and education. It’s a far cry from a usual classroom setting where people look down and quietly keep to themselves. Everyone here is encouraged to exchange their opinions and ideas. While it’s a time for you to challenge your communication skills, you also get to see how youths from different cultural backgrounds see the same issue. +99 to critical thinking skills.

Discussion Groups - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Photo credit: @bulby_jp via Instagram
Discussion Group Sharing Session - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Photo credit: Sseayp.sg Facebook

It’s not only group discussions where you get to interact with others, though. During mealtimes or free times, you might find yourself having casual conversations with other youths about anything. It’s a great opportunity that’ll boost your confidence and eloquence, both as a person and a traveller. Which, honestly speaking, are traits that schools aren’t always able to teach. ‍‍

3) Get to Know the Cultures of Your Asian Counterparts

Visiting a Jsapanese Temple in Kimonos - SSEAYP Youth Exchange

Ever wanted to educate yourself on how to wear Japanese traditional garments like a Kimono, or do a Bruneian traditional dance? You’ll find them all on SSEAYP! Homestays and group discussions aside, there are plenty of fun activities that’ll turn you from clueless to clued-in about the rich cultures of our Asian neighbours.

For instance, your newfound friends from all 11 countries will put up a performance that displays their culture, traditions and history. Watching these National Presentations are honestly some of the most exciting ways to learn more about the unique cultures across Southeast Asia and Japan, and something you can only experience with SSEAYP.

Selfie with Japanese Friends - SSEAYP Youth Exchange

Vietnam National Presentation - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Vietnam’s SSEAYP National Presentation. Photo credit: @sseayp.vietnam via Instagram

If you want to learn even more about others’ cultures, join the voluntary activities organised by your fellow SSEAYP mates! It’s like joining a cultural after-school CCA, but with more diverse activities. These include learning how to wear a Hijab, sake appreciation, and celebrating festivities like Deepavali and Songkran.

4) Experience Amazing Opportunities that Will Glow Up Your Resume

Looking at Chew Jetty Georgetown Malaysia - SSEAYP Youth Exchange

Besides sailing on a cruise ship to different countries, SSEAYP offers another unique opportunity: the chance to meet with foreign dignitaries. I don’t know about you, but it’s not every day you get to meet high-ranking people just like that (I definitely didn’t get that when I was on my university exchange).

Gift Exchange with Thai Minister of Social Development and Human Security - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
The 45th SSEAYP Singapore Youth Leader has a gift exchange with the Thai Minister of Social Development and Human Security. Photo credit: Department of Children and Youth Facebook
Institutional Visit to Secondary School in Japan - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Photo credit: @eyllnuramalina_ via Instagram

Even if meeting VIPs aren’t your cup of tea, you don’t have to worry. You get to visit local institutions ranging from embassies to welfare facilities at every port of call. It’s pretty much an opportunity for you to delve into the country’s culture and socio-political history, which isn’t always available to the average traveller.

Think of it as a cool achievement to add to your resume (and life stories!) that’ll catch the attention of your future employers.

5) Expand Your Ring of International Friends

Passports of ASEAN and Japanese Youth - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Photo credit: @pgnarisara via Instagram

This one goes without saying. With 300 youths from 11 different countries packed onto one ship, SSEAYP is like living in a hostel for 50 days — except everyone is your friend.

Truthfully speaking, it’s hard not to get to know your fellow SSEAYP mates. After all, the programme is designed to make it easy for everyone to mix and mingle around. Every group you’re in, from your ship bunkmates to homestay buddies and discussion groups, will be made up of different people. So don’t be surprised if your social media following explodes after this.

Radar Point – Ultimate Phuket Guide

Selfie with Solidarity Group - SSEAYP Youth Exchange
Photo credit: @pgnarisara via Instagram

At the end of the whole journey, you can proudly say you’ve made friends from all walks of life across the region. It might bittersweet to say goodbye at first, but look on the bright side. Your friends from ASEAN and Japan are just a short flight away if you want to visit them again! (Unless you’re planning to sail there, then that’ll definitely take longer.)

I’m in! How do I sign up for SSEAYP 2019?

Looking Out to Sea From Cruise Ship - SSEAYP Youth Exchange

To sign up, head over to SSEAYP to register your interest online. Applicants are required to be between 18 – 30 years old (as of 1st Jan 2019). Do prepare a passport size photo before applying. Resumes are optional.

Applicants should preferably have a proven track record of active youth, community, or public service. However, you can still apply even if you don’t have this! For details on the selection criteria, read more here.

Important Dates
Application Closes: 31 March 2019, 6PM
Selection Exercise & Interview: 4 & 11 May 2019, 9AM – 6PM
Sharing Session: 26 Feb 2019, 7PM at the National Youth Council (sign up here!)
Orientation Programme: June – October 2019
Sailing: 23 Oct – 13 Dec 2019

Do note that if you’re successfully chosen, you will need to contribute S$900 to the Contingent Fund for the Contingent’s expenses for the programme.

Sign Up Linkhttp://bit.ly/ApplySSEAYP2019

If you have any other questions, send them over to NYC at [email protected]. We wish you all the best in your application! And who knows, we might even join you on-board. 😉


This post was brought to you by the National Youth Council.

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