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From the Students: The Best Things about Going to School At Sea

Living aboard the MV Explorer gives students countless opportunities to have group study sessions in very unique and beautiful places. Photos by Krista Rossow.

Classes onboard the MV Explorer have been in full swing for the Spring 2014 voyage for over a month now, where students learn from a selection of more than 80 courses, including International Management, Asian Politics, African Oral Tradition and Marine Biology. While students work through their rigorous course material, they find that their specialized coursework, experienced professors, and the shipboard community as a whole are helping them gain new insights ‚Äì from both inside and outside the classroom. Students talked with us about their experience with academic life on Semester at Sea and how it’s preparing them for their upcoming travels in port. From the students, here are the best things about going to school at sea:

 7. Limited technology

“It’s really cool that we’re secluded in the middle of the ocean while we’re traveling from place to place. We have limited access to technology, so when you’re meeting people you’re actually meeting them. You aren’t just like, ‘Let’s be Facebook friends, I’ll never talk to you again.’ It’s so much easier to make real, meaningful connections.” – Allie Mendola, Quinnipac University

6. Pre-port preparedness from seasoned travelers

“In the evenings after class, the World Cafe and Insight Lectures offer new perspectives for a country or culture. We get to learn languages and current histories that are going to be very pertinent and it really enriches our experience.” – Brandon Bol, University of San Diego

Because of the small classes on the ship, students are able to have more one-on-one relationships with the professors.

5. Relevant Coursework

“The classes give you a real world perspective. In my geological hazards class we spent the day walking in a volcano, learning about volcanic activity and examining it – our learning didn’t just come from a textbook.” – Dawn Musil, Ohio State University

“Generally when we’re at our universities studying, we don’t know if it’s going to be one year, or five years down the line when we’re actually going to use the information. But here, in one week down the line, I know I’ll be using my religious studies to identify temples and religious artifacts, I’ll be using my international finance class to understand currency exchanges, and I’ll look at big companies that have set up in a country and will think about what they’re doing differently, and why they might have set up there.” – Brandon Bol, University of San Diego

“I’m taking Oceanography on the ocean… you can’t really beat that.” – Connor Grimley, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis

With a self-contained living learning community, there are many opportunities to hear stories from the experienced staff and faculty.

4. Great professors

“The professors here are really well-qualified. My professor for Imperial History lived in China for years. My marine biology professor was a marine biologist for years. He has a lot of insightful stories that he incorporates into his teaching. The quality of the professors is really great, because they have real world experience and know what they’re doing.” – Jennifer Lampro, Southern New Hampshire University

“I’m used to a really large school setting, and the close proximity to our teachers makes it easier to talk. We end up talking about what’s going on in class outside of the course itself.” – Aley Barnum, University of California-Irvine

3. Community

“The community is really dynamic. You have college students teaching the dependent children different kinds of dance; you’ll see Lifelong Learners teaching students about their professions, and you have a really unique community that collaborates and learns from each other.” – Dawn Musil, Ohio State University

“I like all the groups that have been started on the ship ‚Äì it makes me feel like I‚Äôm part of a home here since our community is so small.‚Äù ‚Äì Amelia Spinrad, Furman University

The 7th deck is one of the best places to catch up on reading for class.

“The idea of being at sea is the most amazing thing.” – Jennifer Lampro, Southern New Hampshire University

2. The Views

“Studying is a whole different experience. The fact that I can go outside and study on the deck, in front of the ocean, is one of my favorite things.” – Thomas Beveridge, Northern Arizona University

1. New experiences

“I’ve never left North America before, so when I heard about this opportunity to visit twelve different cultures, I couldn’t pass it up.” – Connor Grimely, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis

‚ÄúYou board on a ship with a bunch of people you don‚Äôt know, so you‚Äôre able to make all these new connections and new relationships. You get to have one-on-ones with professors that you wouldn’t typically get at your home campus. The best thing is all the new experiences that you‚Äôre provided.‚Äù ‚Äì Cuyler Lewis, Pennsylvania State University

  • Life at Sea

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