Leadership training like no other. Plus a great adventure on the ocean! Past Review

By (Geology, Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/23/2013 to 12/20/2013 with

Sea Education Association: Programs at Sea - Oceans and Climate

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was SO worthwhile. While the academics were intense and intriguing, they were far surpassed by the leadership training and self awareness I gained by working with a crew on a ship. I learned how to be critical of my own actions in a close community setting, I learned how to command and be commanded by my peers, and how to be responsible for myself and others so that we all can achieve what we want to. While that sounds cliche, a ship is a microcosm of larger life experience where all of these things become extremely clear (no wonder a ship is used as a metaphor for so many things!)

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic rigor, intensity, and availability of resources was very good at the SEA institution. There was only 1 (of the 5) classes that I didn't enjoy, and it was because of the professor (not the content).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

On shore, we lived in cottages with half of our class, and that was lovely. On the boat, we each had a bunk and a cubby, and that was a challenge to get used to but it was definitely enough!

* Food:

On shore, we cooked for ourselves. On the boat, we had a galley and steward and each student rotated through a day of being assistant steward. The food was delicious and plentiful!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very a part of the boat culture, which of course you can't really avoid when you live and work on a boat for a few months. We only had a few days at our port stops, and each student only got about a day or so off to explore the islands/ports. Therefore we didn't have a ton of time to become integrated with the local culture, but it was okay.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

We were very careful about our health on the boat, since there was little outside health care available. There were a few minor scrapes (to be expected) and all were cared for immediately.

* Safety:

There is of course inherent risk with working on a boat, but the crew and students took safety VERY seriously.

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)

All the cost was paid up front (and was paid through my school's tuition since we now have a partnership with SEA), and so food was paid for by SEA and provided on the boat. There were no expenses on the boat, but we used our own allowance for frivolities on shore.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $0 on because we received grocery gift cards from SEA, and an extra $30 for fun things (like trips to Martha's vineyard, dinner in Falmouth, etc) while on shore.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The captain
  • The leadership training
  • How my time was valued differently that on shore - work time was work time, and down time was valuable recharge time.
* What could be improved?
  • How much time off of watch that we have available to work on our individual research projects (we didn't have much, so my final deliverable was not of my finest quality)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't dwell too much on the shore component - it's important to have it, but it's not the reason you're at SEA.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Oceans and the Global Carbon Cycle

Course Department:
Instructor: Audrey Meyer
Instruction Language: English
Comments: A fantastic and intense overview of oceanography in just 6 weeks. Audrey was a great lecturer, always knowledgeable and well prepared. She also was very good at helping students explore questions that she thinks they could answer - she would ask "how would you answer this?" or "what would you predict would happen if that were true?" We only had 1 large problem set (acting as a midterm) and a final proposal for our on-board research project. Overall, good class for people with a good background in and interest in science who want an intense and interdisciplinary study of the ocean and climate.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Ocean Science and Public Policy

Course Department:
Instructor: John Jensen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: While this course material was interesting and the papers challenging and relevant, the professor made the course extremely frustrating. He was condescending and defensive. While I recognize our class did not like him because he had rearranged the course structure for our particular group, it is not an excuse to be rude and condescending to your students. He also explicitly stated that he does not grade on a rubric. Do not take a class with this professor.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Nautical Science

Course Department:
Instructor: Pamela Coughlin
Instruction Language: English
Comments: On shore, we could only learn the very basics of nautical science - how to plot position/course on a nautical chart, tying knots, and practicing putting on our survival suits on in under a minute. Challenging and fun, but the real work comes in the sea component. There you are learning every minute you are awake, and it is the best example of experiential learning you will get anywhere. Work hard at it, and it's okay to get frustrated - it's supposed to be challenging! It is also so rewarding. Biggest advice: learn your lines immediately and don't forget them. Pamela is an INCREDIBLE instructor and captain - she is so intentional in her actions, and so inspiring.
Credit Transfer Issues: