good experience September 03, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 01/02/2019 to 03/22/2019 with

Sea Education Association: The Global Ocean

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about my own ability to be resilient, saw beautiful things like dolphins and bioluminescence, learned to read the weather, learned about sense of place.

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.

On shore, I enjoyed most of my classes and professors. I really enjoyed their company and felt like they were interested in my progress. In the beginning, there was a lot of material that was expected to absorbed in a relatively short amount of time, and so maybe the expectations for some courses were a little unreasonable. Off shore, it didn't feel like the academic program was awfully rigorous or intense, but I think given the unique physical demands of the program, that made sense. There was a lot of experiential learning that happened while at sea, from doing sail handling.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

On site things ran smoothly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Accomodations were pretty standard

* Food:

Meals during the on-shore component of the program were were paid for via food stipend that they distributed to each house. Each house was responsible for shopping and cooking their own meals, which was a process that I enjoyed. There was always enough funds provided to buy as much food as we wanted. Meals during the boat-component of the program were cooked by a steward on board and eventually all students spent at least one day cooking with the steward preparing meals of their choice. The steward was extremely talented and an invaluable companion on the boat, and "galley days" were really fun and rewarding.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I didn't feel integrated with New Zealand culture an awful lot, since there wasn't as much time spent on land as on the boat. Days spent docked we had some field trips assigned and some free time to roam around whatever town we had arrived to, but it was only a few hours at a time, and we weren't allowed to stay out very late. Most students took that time to eat with other classmates and check out some tourist spots but it never felt like enough time to get to know Kiwi culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

This program was really tough on my body due to the rotating watch schedule (though which I did not have a consistent sleep schedule) and seasickness. There was a medical officer onboard and all crew could administer sea sickness meds to students as needed. In terms of mental health, it felt at times as though there was this emphasis on just "toughing it out" and enduring the sleep deprivation. Because of the nature of the program, what with the watch schedule, I felt as though I could not take a break, and that I might be judged for that. I did not feel like I could be vulnerable or honest with many of the crew for having a hard time. There was also a situation in which one student believed she might have suffered a concussion, and there were issues where the staff had a hard time believing her. She had to go to several crew members before they agreed to take her to a hospital on shore to be seen by a doctor.

* Safety:

During the on-shore component of the program, I felt safe at all times, though granted, I was on campus for most of the day. On the boat, especially during rough seas and at night, it can get scary. But safety was taken very seriously on the boat, and I always felt safe from obstacles or falling off.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I might have gone with a different SEA Semester program, like SPICE.


* 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)

During actual program, I spent very little money. But the supplies list for students is substantial! Needed to buy foulies, tevas/chacos, a big bag without wheels, etc, in addition to my own flights to and from New Zealand.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? On food and other spending, I spent very little during the actual program. All food was provided for during on-shore and onboard. The only things I spent money on were for gifts I planned on bringing home.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Look to borrow from friends or family, keep on the lookout for discounted items!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the incredible marine sights
  • the food
  • the professors
* What could be improved?
  • support for students' mental health
  • I wish there had been more POC
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How physically taxing it would be and the level of commitment that would be required during the on-shore program

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'