SEA Semester: An Unforgettable Adventure Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 10/07/2013 to 12/23/2013 with

Sea Education Association: Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so many unexpected things while studying with SEA semester. Obviously, we all learned about oceanography, Caribbean history, global trade, biology, nautical science, weather, etc. But, the most worthwhile aspects of this program weren't the facts we learned or the papers we wrote (all though the academics were incredibly interesting). We all learned how to build a strong community and how to support one another through difficult times. We all grew as individuals and developed lifelong bonds--even if we never see each other again. And everyone learned something about themselves. This is a difficult program and there are difficult days. But I learned that I could work hard, persevere through constant challenges, rely on my shipmates, ask for help, and find joy and adventure in totally unexpected places. It all sounds cheesy now, but you can't understand it until you step off the ship on your last day with SEA.

Review Photos

SEA Semester: Programs at Sea - Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean Photo SEA Semester: Programs at Sea - Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean Photo SEA Semester: Programs at Sea - Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean Photo SEA Semester: Programs at Sea - Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean Photo SEA Semester: Programs at Sea - Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic component of this SEA Semester program was interesting and challenging. While the program focuses strongly on experiential learning and community development, the topics we studied while on shore in Woods Hole matched very well with the sites we visited in the Caribbean. All the classes were a perfect addition to the experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program was well run in Woods Hole, in the Virgin Islands, and while traveling in the Caribbean. We experience very few issues.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing during all three components-onshore in Woods Hole, in the Virgin Islands, and on the ship--was fantastic and comfortable. We lived as a close-knit community in Woods Hole which helped us support each other and make close friendships throughout our semester. The housing situation on St. John and St. Croix was also unique and really added to the overall experience. With the type of housing provided, students should be prepared for at least one roommate and little privacy. This lack of privacy didn't seem to be an issue with any of my classmates, however.

* Food:

We cooked for ourselves while onshore in Woods Hole. SEA provided a grocery gift card, and we decided to have a large group dinner every night of the shore component. The weekly grocery budget was not very large, so it is necessary to be careful about how much you spend as a class. SEA is good at giving advice to new students about how to spend the money wisely. On St. Croix, the staff of VIERS (the eco-camp we stayed at) cooked every meal for us and the food was GREAT! The food on the ship is delicious and plentiful and it's very fun to help as assistant steward.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

During all the components, the leaders of SEA were very aware of our well-being and any health issues we had. Many students were sick or injured while in Woods Hole, and Virginia Land gave each of us the advice and attention we needed. While on the ship, the medical officer made sure she was aware of any illness, cuts, or bruises to ensure that we were as healthy as possible. I had to go to the chiropractor several times, and the staff at SEA was always ready to tell me where to go and provided rides to the appointments.

* Safety:

SEA is dedicated to the safety of their students and I never felt unsafe in any situation.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

It is very easy to avoid spending money while on this program. Most money was spent in Woods Hole on dinners and going out at night, but many nights we stayed on campus instead of going out. Everything is provided for us in the Caribbean, so you only spend money on gifts or snacks.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Literally Everything
  • Shipmates/Professors/Crew
  • The unbelievable adventures
* What could be improved?
  • Longer program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Nothing you read about will really prepare you for this experience. It is fantastic and literally life-changing, but it's hard to understand that for days/weeks/months/years after you step off the ship. The academics are amazing, but make sure you remember to develop relationships with your classmates and the crew because those are the memories you'll hold on to in the years to come. It is an incredibly challenging program and some days will be very hard, but I can guarantee you'll leave the program with a better sense of self and an overwhelming satisfaction about what you've gained. Enjoy every minute of it and make sure you climb the rigging and sit on the elephant table.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.