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Sea Education Association

About SEA

Student Stories

John Cavacas

John Cavacas

SEA Semester Class:

C-231 (Ocean Exploration)


Northeastern University


Mechanical Engineering

SEA Semester Research Focus:

Scientific Research - Light Attenuation in the Water Column

Why did you choose SEA Semester?

I was looking for a study abroad experience that was different from the typical model. I had also always wanted to see what it was like going to sea at weeks or months at a time. These two desires came together when I heard about SEA Semester.

What were the strongest aspects of SEA Semester?

The knowledgeable staff, both on shore and at sea were wonderful. On shore they made everyone feel welcome and like a part of the SEA Semester community, while at sea the crew helped the students feel safe as they adapted to their new environment. At the same time the staff was good at keeping the students in a learning mindset. There was always something new to learn, no matter what time of day or what the topic. There were times when I learned about minerals in the ocean in the afternoon, followed by learning the names of new stars and constellations at 2 AM later that night. It’s easy to forget that you’re still in a classroom even when you’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean, but that’s exactly where you are.

What were the most challenging aspects of SEA Semester?

Adapting to the at-sea environment was most challenging. Most students had never been to sea for more than a few hours, so learning the ways of the ship was a completely new experience. At some point every student realized, ‘Woah, I’m in the middle of the ocean, hundreds of miles from anyone else on Earth,’ which was exciting and scary at the same time. Getting out of that mindset that you’re alone was challenging at first, but then you realize that everyone else is in the same boat (pun intended), and you use that sense of togetherness to get over it and have a good time.

Words of advice for future SEA Semester students?

SEA Semester gives you an opportunity to challenge yourself more than you have ever been challenged before. However it is just that, an opportunity. It’s up to you whether you want to accept that challenge and turn that opportunity into an experience. Going to sea is what you make of it; you could stay below decks and sleep, or you could go up on deck, set the sails, climb to the top of the mast, and do something that none of your friends back home have even dreamed of.