Sea Education Association

About SEA

Student Stories

Michelle Rossi

Michelle Rossi

SEA Semester Class:

S-239 (Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems, Early Spring 2012)


Muhlenberg College


Biology & Music (Double Major)

SEA Semester Research Focus:

Scientific Research - El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
Humanities Research (if applicable) - Music of French Polynesia; The Vanilla of Tahiti; Documentation Project on Nuku Hiva music

Why did you choose SEA Semester?

I have always felt a strong pull to the ocean, and I knew that studying abroad with SEA Semester was the perfect opportunity to become close with the sea. Traveling to foreign countries is something that I will, hopefully, be able to do in the future; but sailing on 135’ Brigantine was an opportunity I knew that I would never have again. I was looking for an abroad program which would allow me to interact intimately with a variety of people, help me to learn about myself, and allow me to travel to somewhere unique. SEA Semester fulfilled & exceeded all of these requirements!

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

The relationships that I formed with not only my fellow students but the crew and my professors is something that I will always cherish. The trust that we all placed in each other was outstanding. Learning was never one way—we were all constantly learning and teaching one another. One moment that stands out for me was when I was getting better at identifying the stars and planets. I was standing out on deck gazing upwards when I was handed a pen-shaped object—it being dark out I didn’t know what it was. As I went to ask my mate what I was being given, I realized that I was holding our laser pointer, used for teaching the night sky. I remember being told to go teach my shipmates the stars I knew. A moment that may have seemed so insignificant made me feel so accomplished, and by teaching my shipmates what I knew it encouraged me to learn more and cemented the knowledge I already had.

What were the strongest aspects of SEA Semester?

The strongest aspect of SEA was the nontraditional ways of teaching. We weren’t just sitting in class, we were active participants, 24/7.

What were the most challenging aspects of SEA Semester?

To me, it seemed that every moment of the trip was a challenge (but in a good way!). Things that seem so easy, that you take for granted on shore, were suddenly much more difficult. Setting the table, taking a shower, chopping an onion, drawing a straight line…even just walking across the deck! These challenges made the successes even greater.

Words of advice for future SEA Semester students?

Recognize early on that you need to trust your shipmates completely. These individuals will become your moral support, your cheerleaders, your safety net. If you place trust in them early on, you have more time to get to know them and really have the time of your life!