PROGRAM TYPES

CONNECT WITH US

Sailboat Sailboat

SEA Semester: Ocean Exploration (Interdisciplinary)

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    4

  • Social Life

    8

Understand what you're getting into

Understand what you're getting into, that's all. As an English major, I went to SEA because I had read Moby-Dick, and wanted to try my hand at sailing a tall-ship. The down-side is that, because you are conducting a ton of science research, preparing presentations, and doing a wide variety of tasks such as cleaning, cooking, etc., you really have absolutely no time to sit on the mast and think, or memorize the constellations, or play your guitar on deck (all of these things I attempted to do, and gave up on by the middle of the second week). The tiny amount of free time you do have left is dedicated to sleeping, because you end up exhausted at the end of every watch. All this, of course, not counting the random drills that wake you up in the middle of a nap, or the fact that the captain wants everyone on deck at 1 pm to hear a report on the ship's status. In sum, then, just don't expect free time, time to think, time to play, or even much time to tranquilly spend time with your shipmates. You will be worked like a dog, and you should expect that.

That being said... the experience of being on ship, hauling at lines, working in the galley, spending time in the engineering room, is incredible. My favorite moments on the ship were when I got to be lookout at 3 am, and could stand on the prow, looking out at more stars than I'd ever seen before in my life, listening to the ocean lapping up against and beneath the ship. The manual labor is actually incredibly fun: by the end of the ship, your hands calloused, your muscles twice the size than when you started, you feel wonderful. I developed a gargantuan appetite, got sunburned, and got addicted to the sea and the wind and the emptiness. I honestly do wish I had had more time to spend with my shipmates, many of whom it became practically impossible to talk to once the ship got underway (what with the difference in work schedules, etc.), and I wish I'd had more leisure time (which I think is actually important, to get the ship in a good mood, which in turn helps the crew coordinate better), but I loved the experience of being in the middle of the North Pacific, and think this program is well worth while (even if you're a humanities major).

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Best Time Of My Life

I decided to go on SEA after seeing a view book in my school's library and it was the best choice I have made yet! SEA was challenging in so many ways, but it was also exhilarating and life changing. Looking back on it, I am amazed at how much my confidence and problem solving skills improved over the short (8 week) program. I never thought about studying at sea, especially on a tall ship, but this program was probably the best learning and social experience of my entire college career. The crew and professors were amazing and the bonds I formed with my shipmates will last forever. In my mind, this is the best study abroad program available.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    5

An Amazing Experience Made Better

This was a remarkable program that excited me for a career in science, gave me a deeply abiding love of the sea, and provided life-long friendships. I am, in many ways, without words to describe the level of importance I place upon my time at SEA. I gained confidence academically and socially, and found a path for myself that was neither based in drunken debauchery nor academic isolation. I gained friendships in the three months (or in some cases, six weeks) that are rewarding and enduring despite long distances. I highly recommend this program.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Best Decision Of My College Career

This program changed my life. I attended 5 years ago, during my junior year. I met amazing people and did amazing things. Even though it's not directly relevant to my career, I would highly recommend that you check this out. It was worth every penny and every minute, and if I could get away with doing it again, I'd do so in a heartbeat.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Fantastic!!

This was a life-changing experience which I will remember forever. From day one I found this program to me incredibly unique, comprehensive, supportive and exciting! I would do it all over again in a heart beat. Get ready for the time of your life!!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Amazing!

My SEA Semester was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The work and the lifestyle were very challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Some of the most memorable moments of my life were aboard the Robert C Seamans. And beyond the academics and the uniqueness of living aboard a sailing vessel, the people were what really made the experience. All of the professors, administration, mates, scientists, and fellow students were some of the most interesting, supportive and FUN individuals I have ever met. Years later, some of my classmates from SEA are still among my closest friends. I cannot recommend this program enough.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Not A Trip For The Weak

If your aim in studying abroad is to get wasted and puke on some foreign streets next to an ancient statue, sailing with SEA Semester is not the trip to take. If you want to grow exponentially as a person and to experience the salty taste of Earth that only a fraction of the world has ever seen, SAIL! The sailing is not easy - for English, Chinese, and Biology majors alike; the discipline and endurance needed to maintain a sailing vessel on a 3,000 mile journey is great. But you can do it! And you will bond with your shipmates and gain an intimate respect for the beautiful blue ocean.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Entuhsiastic C195 Graduate

Sea semester is an amazing experience. Before attending sea semester I had always been interested in the oceans and marine life. I continue my career today as a marine biologist. The course provided valuable experience both in subject matter and in the sort of field experience that is almost impossible to get elsewhere. Some of my most poetic and amazing memories come from my 6 weeks on the Corwith Cramer.

Nearly 10 years later I am still friends with my classmates from SEA so I know that those who did not continue on an ocean focused path still got a lot out of the experience.

As a note I rated the "living experience" a bit lower simply to caution people who are unaware of how living on shipboard works that shipboard quarters are not as spacious or comfortable as what many may be used to on land.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Amazing, unique experience...

I participated in SEA over 15 years ago, and still clearly remember the joys of the experience. The incredibly important impact those 3 months had on changing my outlook on life, and helping to shape my identity are something that I feel few other programs could replicate.
Fantastic.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Trip of a lifetime

SEA was probably the best decision I made during my undergrad career. Living onshore with your shipmates was a great precursor to living with them on the boat. The small community atmosphere onshore and the setup of the living arrangements allowed me to form lasting friendships with people who would be my future watch mates.

One thing that really stuck with me was how much I actually did grow and change from the program. I remember being onshore and hearing the instructors tell us how the sailing experience would "change you" and how each person would be affected differently. I remember thinking that it would be a cool trip, but no guarantees on anything life-changing. In retrospect, I was (and still am) blown away by how much I grew in such a short period of time, both personally and academically. SEA and my shipmates really adjusted my outlook on life and what really matters, and I had the greatest experienceof my life thus far onboard the Seamans.

While the program, especially (for me) the shipboard portion, is not by any means easy, it is so rewarding and amazing that I would (and have!) recommended the program to anyone who expresses any interest. So far, I've converted at least one person to another SEA alum! Fingers crossed that I get to sail again ASAP!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Most intense, exciting and enlightening semester o

The entire experience of SEA, both the shore and sea component, was the most satisfying educational experience I think I've ever had. The content you are taught on shore gets put to the test once you are out on the water, and once you finish the sea component, you have more experience in sailing, navigating and marine research then almost anyone else your age.

But probably the best part about the program is the community it forms. You will live, eat, learn and play with your classmates, and then you become even closer when you become shipmates. You learn to work together with your watch mates through the highs and the lows of ship life. I am still in touch (and roommates) with my shipmates from the program. Keeping a watch schedule, and dealing with the potential day or two of seasickness make this not an experience for everyone, but if you really want to feel alive, I highly recommend this program.

I didn't know how to sail before my SEA Semester, but the program gave me the experience to get a job on a schooner for the summer, and will hopefully continue to help me find jobs through their alumni network and solid reputation.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Simply Amazing

This program is a truly amazing course. As students we were responsible for the handling of the ship and doing our own research projects we designed from scratch. We were given enough guidance to keep us safe and everything else was up to us. Its an exceptional learning experience, not just about the academics, but life skills that some kids manage to miss otherwise in college. It was really great to see my fellow students grow as people and grow together as a group. I still keep in touch with all my class mates regularly.


The program I did was science focused (there are cultural focused programs). So I did not get as much experience of other cultures as some might hope for. Some people may find shipboard living tough, but what is life if we don't challenge ourselves a little.

One of my most memorable moment was waking up in the middle of the night and heading up on deck. Some dolphins were surfing on the bow wake of our boat. That in itself was unremarkable but since it was dark you could only see them by the green glowing trail of phosphorescent plankton they disturbed as they moved. Seeing a pod of dolphins outlined in bright green below me was pure magic.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Most Incredible Experience

In your life you will never come across an opportunity comparable to SEA. You bond with amazing people, you travel to remote places, you push yourself to unimaginable limits and you grow in so many ways. I was able to strengthen my academic ability, personal confidence and peer relationships in truly unexpected ways.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

No Regrets

Because SEA is such a small program, it's really easy to work with the program administration. In addition, because the professors travel with you onboard, you really get to know them which facilitates even better learning.

I travelled from Honolulu to Tahiti with stops in Bora Bora and Christmas Island. While there isn't a ton of cultural exposure because you are at-sea for the majority of the sailing portion, I do feel we learned about the islands to which we traveled.

There is a lot of partying in Woods Hole between both classes which is AWESOME. It was a ton of fun and I've made some wonderful friends from both ships.

Living both in the houses in WH and on the boat were incredible.

There is a lot of work required of the students, but it is all very interesting and rewarding. The independent research project teaches you how to frame, investigate, and finish a scientific inquiry. It's really great.

On the boat you continue your research project and learn very practical, applied sailing techniques. I know people who got jobs both for the summer and after college working on tall ships specifically because they did SEA.

I would HIGHLY recommend this program to any motivated and smart college student looking for an abroad experience that will truly change their life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

I wish I could do it again!!!

I had the time of my life during the shore and sea component. It is academically challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. All the people at SEA are amazing and so helpful and always approachable and the other students were great as well. I would do anything to be able to do it again!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Hands-on Learning With A Taste Of Salt!

Great experience!

Living on a sailboat for two months really puts things into perspectives. Taking away the comforts of space and privacy is a great learning experience in itself. Ship life is an awesome skill to learn. Team building and cooperation is key.

Highly recommend it for anyone looking for hands-on learning outside the classroom!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    4

This program is wonderful

Andres seems to have nailed it down; this program is wonderful and you will love it but you will not have much freedom (the classic collegiate concept). I came into the program as a Marine Biology major and an English major and I was wholly impressed with our Maritime Literature and History class but was somewhat disappointed by the Oceanography class. My reasons: We all had a basis in English, we could all read, etc., so we could proceed naturally with the Literature and History of the sea. Some people have no idea about how a discussion works (science majors) but what's new? Not everyone has a background in science, or marine science for that matter so you start from the beginning. This is awful for marine science majors because you are literally thrown back into introductory science (it's boring), but completely necessary for those who have not been exposed. On land at Woods Hole was fun, I loved the little houses and found time to play backgammon for money (something everyone should take up). Let's take a look at the other half of the program.

Being on a tall-ship was f-ing incredible and I loved sailing and I learned a lot because I was forced to, often times in the wee hours of the morn. This is good. You are put into uncomfortable situations which force you to work as a team and get things done. The scientific equipment was crazy awesome and expensive, I felt like I was supposed to be on the Discovery Channel. Problem #1: We were very much shuttled into our research projects, there is relatively little freedom in choosing a project (this is good for non-scientists and bad for scientists). Problem #2: There is no free time and little sleep time which makes for grumpy, highly stressed shipmates. Problem #3: I did not agree with the educational philosophies of both the captain and the chief scientist. Both talented and nice people, to be sure, but there logic seemed off (i.e. fun and work cannot mix).

Solutions: Keep an open mind and bring some sarcasm, it helps. Don't worry about sea-sickness. After a day and half of it you simply don't have time to be sick anymore and you will get over it. Don't lean on the gimbled tables, the paid-crew will not look at you kindly. Do not enter the Zona de Muerte.

Bonus Bombs: The watch meetings are fun at first and then frightening once you learn that the crew is actually keeping track of emotional stability of the folks on board. Your project will get done. A bunk in the foc'sil is the best - it's huge, you have no control over bunk selection, sucker. Most people enjoy silly songs about balloons. Don't hit anyone. The captain does have a sense of humor, you just have to keep poking until you find it. The dutch do not know how to sail.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    N/A

  • Cultural Immersion

    N/A

  • Program Administration

    N/A

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Best experience of my life so far

Academics I rate a 4 in the Woods Hole (Mass), a 1 everywhere else. All around the best experience of my life so far. I learned a ton, had a great time, and grew immensely as a person. Sucks you can't drink on the ship - but overall amazing.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    7

A unique opportunity

A unique opportunity for anyone who is willing to endure it to immerse himself in ... the ocean. While more emphasis was placed on science, the program will surely get you some sea legs and a great experience. Do to the heavy science emphasis, students can't fully take advantage of becoming a sailor, yet we are college students pursuing the scientific method while learning how to sail. There has to be some compromise on one side there simply aren't enough hours in the day.

The staff and instructors range from fully involved and passionate to sailbum, and lessons are to be learned from each of them. Class on board can be a drag, but the program is about the integration of the two disciplines together. Students are split into watches and these aren't changed, which means that there isn't an opportunity to integrate with all students.

All in all definitely a great opportunity with the support available for personal growth and investigation

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    5

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    7

A Unique Entity,...

Each semester with SEA is a unique entity, having a different group of students, a different captain and crew, as well as different cruise tracks. My comments apply to the semester I experienced, but may be able to serve as a heads up for anyone considering the program. That being said...

The positive definitely outweighed the negative, but that doesn't mean that aspects of the program weren't really frustrating. The people I met and getting to experience being at sea for the first time made the overbearing science emphasis tolerable. I'm a biology major, but I was attracted to the program by hopes of learning basic seamanship - navigation, sail handling, knots, etc. This is not to say that these elements were totally absent from the program, but the heavy scientific focus takes precedence over everything. This deprives time to be spent on what are for many, new and exciting skills or concepts about sailing, as well as the invaluable exercise of reflecting and sharing thoughts over the experiences. While the captain and crew on board ran a tight ship, emphasizing safety and deliberate planning, it almost seemed that leisure activity or non-scientific discussions among students were discouraged.

There is a general timeframe on board in which directing the ship's activities is gradually handed over to the students, who by the last week are to be leading the ship's activities under the captain's instructions as junior watch officers. While much discussion of this plan took place, and it was put into practice, I think both that it was never realized fully and that the students were underprepared by the crew for this phase of the sea component.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to have this experience, and if it seems that my review is overly negative, it is only because I think that the semester of this program that I did had the potential to be a lot better. I would recommend it to anyone, the only disclaimer being an awareness of the heavy scientific emphasis.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    4

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    7

SEA Semester Was An Extraordinary Experience...

SEA Semester was an extraordinary experience with some really special people, many of whom are still my friends. There were moments, such as looking out across the ocean in early afternoon while quietly aloft with friends in the rigging, that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

There were also painful moments. Ship's discipline -- while perhaps necessary -- really affected me, and made me, at times, profoundly unhappy. The poetic or literary aspects of traveling at sea were suppressed; every day we met on the quarterdeck for earnest discussions of how much fuel we'd burned and the status of various research projects. But we never talked about how the experience was affecting us; we rarely, in these meetings, read a poem aloud or lost ourselves to romantic historical reflections on the maritime experience. Being at sea had inspired some of us with philosophical thoughts, and the last night on board -- while anchored in San Francisco Bay -- we gathered in the galley, exchanging book lists and talking with full hearts about James Joyce, Milton, Emerson, Melville and Poe. The captain heard us talking and asked an officer to please tell us to go to bed, feeling that, although this was our last night on board, we should still need our rest. It occurred to me then, as now, that he may have missed the point. An English major like me does not sail the ocean to be a more perfect sailor; the discussions in the galley, or the rigging, are the memories he'll take with him.

Overall, this was a rich and unforgettable experience.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Pirates of the Caribean

The SEA semester has two components:

1) Classes at Woods Hole, where academics are frustratingly easy, and there is plenty of time to party.

2) Sailing in the Oceans. The pros are that you learn all about navigation, engineering, safety on a real sailing. Unfortunately the experience is also extremely tiring, and the environment is extremely strict.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    3

  • Cultural Immersion

    2

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

good, but depends on the person

For a very specific kind of person; must have science, be able to thrive in isolation and enjoy sailing. It depends on the individual whether I'd recommend it.

Overall Rating

6/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Health and Safety

    6

  • Social Life

    6

Extreme Highs And Extreme Lows

I had extreme highs and extreme lows during the experience.

It was challenging to be in such a hierarchical environment but I also had an amazing time and saw amazing things.

The Pacific island we went to - Palmira - was mostly unpopulated but had been a major US base in World War II.