Katie Leake - 2013 Program Participant

Thanksgiving dinner on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean

Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of the Atlantic

Why did you decide to the study abroad? 

I decided to study abroad because I felt as if I was not ready for college. I wanted to experience something that had a strong leadership aspect, and Sea|mester seemed like the perfect program.
Students baking Christmas cookies

Christmas cookies in Argo’s galley

Why did you choose Seamester? 

I chose Sea|mester because I had previously done the high school program called Actionquest and had fallen in love. While at Actionquest they told all of us about Sea|mester, and from that moment on I nagged my parents for months asking if I could take a gap year and embark on this journey; they said yes!

What made your voyage with Sea|mester unique?

Sea|mester is the most unique program because not only do you get to visit many different places around the world in a span of three months, but you also make life long friends with the 25 or so shipmates. Not only are you living with these people, but you are also cooking, and sailing, and taking classes with them as well.

In a matter of 90 days you will be able to say that you have met another group of people that you can call your family.  
Rope swing over the ocean

Boom swing in the British Virgin Islands

What do all future participants need to know about Sea|mester?

EVERYTHING. Sailing around the world and sitting on the bow-watching dolphins jump right in front of you. Traveling to the most unique places around the globe.  Going on dives and being able to see sharks, colorful fish, and stingray, and many many more sea animals. I could seriously go on and on about what you have to look forward to, but you just need to embark on this journey so you know exactly what I am talking about!

What was your favorite part about the program?

My favorite part of my program, besides the amazing places we visited, the amount of miles we were able to sail, the wonderful classes that we had the opportunity to take, and the beautiful scuba diving we were able to partake in, were the magnificent people that became my second family.

Is there anything you wish you could change about your program?

I would not change a single thing; I seriously loved every single minute, and I wish every day that I could go back and be on Argo once again.
Students on a hike in the Pacific islands

Group photo after an island hike in the Pacific

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

It’s hard to describe a day in the life of Sea|mester because each day was filled with a new adventure. 

A typical sailing day: You would wake up during your watch, which could either be in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning; you are on watch for four hours. You can either sit on the bow and watch while looking out into the amazing ocean gazing for other boats or dolphins on the horizon. You could also be sitting in the cockpit joking around eating numerous amounts of snacks with your watch team, or you could be on the helm holding onto the wheel guiding Argo on its amazing journey.
Hiker in the mountains

The best feeling after completing a treacherous hike!

Once your watch is over you can either crawl back into your bunk for a quick little nap or remain on deck talking with the other watch teams. Then right before lunch everyone dives back down below to study up on oceanography, biology, or PSCT. 

Following class everyone gathers on deck to eat a yummy lunch cooked by the chefs of the day. The afternoon continues like the morning with watch teams.  

Sailing days were my absolute favorite because you got to feel the sea breeze on your face and be in charge of making the 112 foot ship get from one location to another.
Drinking coconut water on the beat in Antigua

Fresh coconut water on the beach in Antigua

Did you experience culture shock at any of your destinations? 

The one place that I encountered a little bit of culture shock was when we explored Morocco. It was a beautiful place, filled with colorful landscapes and many busy markets. I was able to overcome this culture shock by sticking together and exploring the markets as a group. Even though I was culture shocked, it was my favorite place I was able to explore. 

Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life? 

Sea|mester impacts my life at home on a daily basis. It has taught me to live in the moment and to appreciate everything around me. I have learned the essence of adventure, and the importance of incorporating adventure in my day-to-day life. I have become the person I am today because of Sea|mester.