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About SEA

Student Stories

Jennifer Binkowski

Jennifer Binkowski

SEA Semester Class:

S-245 (Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems)

College/University:

University of Denver

Major/Minor:

Integrated Sciences

SEA Semester Research Focus:

Scientific Research - Equatorial Pacific Currents
Humanities Research - Tourism

Why did you choose SEA Semester?

To be honest, I can go to Europe anytime. On the contrary, SEA Semester is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Having grown up sailing, the chance to spend 7 weeks on a boat crossing the Pacific Ocean was something I could not turn down.

What was the singular most memorable moment of your SEA Semester experience?

Crossing the equator. I’m not sure what happened that day, but Neptune’s presence was felt. I was able to recognize how monumental the accomplishment was and how far we had come from the sea sickness and Force 8 winds in Tahiti. It’s something that few people have the opportunity to do, and when it became a reality, it brought a lot of things to light. As my watch took the wheel and sailed Bobby C across the equator, I looked around me at the friends I had made and the adventure I was on and I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. That was the moment I knew I could accomplish anything in life, and it was an indescribable feeling.

What were the strongest aspects of SEA Semester?

Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—at 3am under the stars, possibly as the sun set while crossing the equator, or maybe in the bed of pickup trucks as rain poured down in the Tahitian forest—you make friends that change your life. I’ve met the most incredible people and built bonds that no amount of distance or time can break. When a squall comes, you cannot sail through it alone. You need your watch mates and they need you. You learn to work together and trust each other. You learn how to lead and how to effectively follow. You learn so much about your peers in a very short time. Together, not alone, you sail a tall ship across the ocean and that creates bonds and friendships that can never be broken. Sitting on the top yard, feeling on top of the world, you realize that this experience is about far more than finding yourself or learning how to sail. Its about the people around you who made this experience possible. As they say—ship, shipmates, self. The bond between shipmates cannot be found elsewhere or recreated artificially. Its deeper than anyone could imagine.

What were the most challenging aspects of SEA Semester?

The first few days of SEA Semester is very challenging for many reasons. The lack of communication with anyone from home, the sleeping schedule (or lack there of), and the watch rotation—combined with scorching heat, sea sickness, and academic work—is very overwhelming and makes for a difficult transition period.

Words of advice for future SEA Semester students?

Keep your eyes open, because amazing things are constantly happening all around you and you don’t want to miss a beat.