SEA Semester Class:
S-232 (Oceans & Climate, Fall 2010)
Earth and Environmental Sciences
SEA Semester Research Focus:
Scientific Research - Bacterial distribution in surface waters in the Central Pacific
Why did you choose SEA Semester?
Sailing and science have been two of my favorite things ever since I discovered them early in my life. I didn’t plan on going “abroad” during college, but SEA sort of fell into my lap and I simply had to do it.
What were the strongest aspects of SEA Semester?
SEA made me realize that I can learn a LOT in 24 hours. 39 days on shore and 39 on a ship doesn’t sound like a lot, but so much is packed into the program that it becomes timeless. The teaching style is more of discovery than lecture, and this requires students to be more driven in their studies than the typical college course. Learning by doing is a great way to internalize knowledge, and SEA has the unique privilege of having amazing vessels, faculty, and staff all dedicated to allowing students to live the hands-on life of SEA. Living on a ship is similar to living in a foreign country. For example, the requirements of keeping a ship tidy force people to become intimate with spaces most landlubbers would not readily approach, but after a successful Field Day, the communal sense of satisfaction validates all that scrubbing and polishing. Within the small group of shipmates occupying rather tight quarters on a 100 foot vessel, strong organic relationships are formed that are difficult to find on shore. Shipboard life is easily as much of a cultural immersion as 6 weeks in a foreign country.
What were the most challenging aspects of SEA Semester?
On shore, the constant assignments and to-dos are a bit daunting but somehow, doable. Then, at sea, there is again very little unscheduled time in which to complete assignments, let alone have a thin slice of “me time”. Finding/making time to rest and debrief can be difficult when there is so much going on and you don’t want to miss anything.
Words of advice for future SEA Semester students?
Get some sleep every night (you don’t want to get sick). Enjoy every minute. Do everything. Be handy whenever something needs doing. Be assertive if you really want to do something (e.g. go aloft while underway, be JWO a second time, etc.). Remember: you will learn more this semester than in any other semester in your college career. Much (most?) of this learning will not come during scheduled “class time” but rather from your fellow shipmates (including paid crew).