Josh Kester - 2014 Program Participant

Men on a sailboat off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa

Arrival in Cape Town, South Africa

What inspired you to study abroad?

I have always loved travelling and have taken advantage of as many opportunities as I could to travel. It was always my plan to travel for third year to break up university and get to explore the world a bit more.

Why did you choose Sea|mester?

I had always wanted to do a semester abroad in third year, and in high school I had looked at programs, such as Class Afloat, but never did one, so when I found out about Sea|mester everything came together.
Seamester combined travel, learning, sailing, and scuba diving together; it was a perfect fit.
Sunset view from a sailboat in South Africa

Underway to South Africa

What makes a voyage with Sea|mester extraordinary?

I think the uniqueness of the program is what makes it so interesting. I did not find any other programs for a semester abroad that could take me to so many different parts of the world. Also, the fact that we became part of the crew and were the ones physically sailing across the Indian Ocean is an experience not many get to have.

What is one thing that all future Sea|mester participants need to know?

How close friends you become with the rest of the crew. You are in close quarters for three months and have to constantly be working as a team. You spend every day together. You learn how to cook for a large group of people. You will learn how to sail and scuba dive.

There is no experience required and the staff teach you everything you need to know. At the end of the trip you will leave with a whole bunch of new best friends. Also, the opportunities you will receive to go to tiny, beautiful parts of the world, is not one you want to pass on. 

What was your favorite part about the program?

My favorite part of the program is hard to pinpoint because it all was amazing. If I had to pick one I’d say anytime we were sailing without the motor because it was extremely peaceful. Sailing was a lot of students’ favorite part. We learned so much about the boat and the sport of sailing, but also how to work as a crew and a team. Everyone had a job, whether that be help raise a sail, drop anchor, or coil a line; there was always something to do.
Boat during high seas near Cape Town, South AFrica

High seas while underway to Cape Town

What's one thing you would have done differently?

Honestly I don’t think I would have done anything differently. The schedule was laid back, but busy at the same time. The boat was really cool and the classes were interesting. The staff were also very friendly and taught us more than just how to sail and scuba dive.

Describe a day in the life of a Sea|mester shipmate.

We had two different types of days depending if we were at land or at sea. Since most of our days were at sea I will describe one of those.

Your first priority was being on duty when you were on watch. We had three watch teams that rotated through the schedule; the schedule is set so each day you would have different watch times, so eventually the watch’s are split evenly. 

Between 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. we would have lunch and dinner, where the whole crew would assemble in the cockpit and eat. Every day you would have a different job on the boat (chef, deckie, headmaster, etc), so after the meals we would go about our duty, or if you were lucky enough to have a job without much work that day you could have some free time.

After lunch we would have two classes, either marine biology, oceanography, student leadership development, or a seamanship and nautical science class. Once classes were done it would be shower time, which was normally on deck in our bathing suits, and then after it was free time if you weren’t on watch. 
Sailboat anchored off the coast of Singapore

Argo at anchor off the coast of Singapore

Did you experience culture shock adjusting to life aboard the ship or upon returning home to normal life?

I personally did not experience much culture shock during the trip. However, coming home I found I did; going home after living in close quarters with 29 other people was difficult.

How has your time abroad with Sea|mester impacted your life?

It has made me want to keep travelling, sailing, exploring, and adventuring.  I made some great friends on the trip and I will never forget the memories we shared.