Alumni Spotlight: Meg Macdonald


Why did you choose this program?

I have a passion for travel and had always wanted to study abroad while in college. I chose to study nursing, and as a result, I was unable to study abroad for a full semester due to university requirements. I decided to try and find a summer program that would fulfill my sense of adventure as well as work with the dates I was off for the summer. I had no clue where to even study abroad because I honestly wanted to travel everywhere.

One night, I was searching abroad programs, and stumbled upon Sea|mester’s Summer 80 day Tahiti to Australia program. Not only did it include a large variety of destinations that I never dreamed I would be able to go to, but the program also had many different classes that I knew would grow my knowledge base. The photos on the website, the blog, and reading past voyage logs solidified the fact that this program was exactly what I was looking for. Getting to spend each day outside, sailing, and visiting some of the most beautiful islands on Earth sounded like a dream to me. The dates of the program also worked perfectly with my home university’s dates.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I discovered Sea|mester through an internet search. However, a few months prior to my departure for the program, I met a couple of Seamester alumni from my university randomly and was able to talk with them first hand about what participating in the program would be like.

Sea|mester sent detailed information regarding the credits I would be getting through the University of South Florida. They sent information on how to work with my university in order to get credit for the classes. The whole process was seamless. The Sea|mester office is also quite knowledgeable about the process, so any other questions I had were answered by the office.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

One piece of advice regarding this program is that you spend a substantial amount of time with everyone on the trip, so patience and understanding are key.

You are living with 24 students all from different backgrounds, all within 112 feet of each other. Everyone gets exhausted and sailing is hard work; however, the best part of the trip is the close bond that grows as a result.

Thinking back, I can definitely say they were the best roommates I have ever had.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

One of my favorite parts about this program was that each day looked completely different.
Days on land would start similarly with breakfast on the boat, showing the boat some love, and then going about the various activities for the day. Some days it was hiking to waterfalls in Fiji. Other times it was wreck dives in Vanuatu. Some days it was exploring the beaches of the Whitsunday Islands in Australia. No two days looked the same, and it encouraged us to live in the moment.

Passage life had far more of a routine to it. Each person would be assigned a watch group. Once underway, there would be a comfortable routine to watch groups. Meals, chores, and classes would all flow seamlessly throughout the day. Exciting parts of the day would be a random watch group conversation, increased swells, stars and constellations that were different, or dolphins and whales randomly surfacing. Every day was different and exciting.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I wouldn’t say I was particularly fearful about anything going into the program; honestly, I was just so excited.

Rather I would say that I was anticipating how the small logistical details would happen. How do showers happen underway? Will I get seasick? What do watch groups look like? How do we cook for 30 people? Do we study while underway?

All the random questions that you just take day by day. I focused on all the learning opportunities and getting to know everyone. All the random questions and anticipations just floated away once I stepped on Argo.

What is one of your favorite memories from Sea|mester?

I could write a novel about my summer on S/Y Argo, but I'll stick to one story.

After spending several days at sea sailing from Tonga to Fiji with large swells, we were able to spend a glorious two weeks sailing around the gorgeous Fijian islands. We went for a snorkel in the soft coral capital of the world known as the Savusavu strait. I dream about how beautiful the coral was to this day. They had the National Geographic magazine featuring the article on the Savusavu strait, and we got to snorkel and dive this amazing coral after reading about it in National Geographic. To say it was unreal would be selling it short.

I am so grateful for every experience Sea|mester brought me!