Lisle (pronounced "Lyle") left Nassau in the Bahamas on Wednesday for a 100-day Semester at Sea journey that will take her to 13 countries in the southern hemisphere. She sails on the MV Explorer, a former cruise ship that has been refitted with dormitories and classrooms to create a seagoing college.
With her will be roughly 700 other college students from America, as well as from other countries around the world. The program is sponsored by the University of Virginia.
Friedman, an accounting major, will study under the traditional classroom format while on board. But she might actually learn more - and certainly will remember more - from what happens ashore.
Those experiences will span the wild and whimsical, the intense, the scary, certainly the exotic, the enlightening and revealing and sobering. She will visit sites of Cambodia's notorious "killing fields" and retrace the footsteps of two of her uncles in Vietnam with a trip to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
Friedman said that, these days, she reads a lot more news of overseas capitals she will soon experience firsthand. Her parents have already given her the perfect birthday gift - a digital camera and video recorder to chronicle the trip.
Friedman first got the idea when she went on a short boat trip during last spring break. Then she learned of Semester at Sea.
"I said to myself, 'I can do this for a semester.' And I knew this was the program I wanted," she said. One of the first stops is for the young - or at least the young at heart. The Rio Gone Wild Carnival is know for its raucous nightlife and all-hours partying. The boat might miss the actual event, but not to worry: "They party until the end of the week," Friedman said.
She will get a different kind of thrill in South Africa, where she will go on safari for three days, and get lowered into a collection of great white sharks while in a cage.
Then there is Asia - Malaysia, Japan and India's Taj Mahal. China will be a highlight, as she visits both Shanghai and Hong Kong, with a planned side trip to Beijing to catch a glimpse of the Olympics and a visit to the Great Wall.
Friedman will stay with Chinese college students, mingle, communicate and gain insights beyond a classroom.
"I'll get to hang out with them and talk with them. I really want to see how I view other countries and how they view Americans," she said. "I'll be in financial centers like Hong Kong, and I'll meet the people and meet the moguls," she said.
Friedman ultimately wants to work in international finance, employed with a company that deals overseas. She hopes to land a summer intern job with such a company. What better item could go on her resume?
But while she looks to the future, a 21 year-old girl still has other things to consider - such as figuring out what pictures to take to Vietnam, where they make any dress for $20.
Then there are practical decisions about to what to stuff into those two duffel bags each passenger is limited to, which must fit under the beds in the cramped, two-person cabins.
"Right now, I'm communicating with the other kids and asking," she said in the week before the trip. "It will be pretty packed."