Gannon Student Spends a Semester at Sea

Schooner_Ocean_StarPosted: May 16, 2014

The SEAmester study abroad program's schooner Ocean Star


Gannon University sophomore Andrea Swagler recently returned to campus from a three-month, semester-long voyage at sea as a part of the SEAmester study abroad program.

The University is accepting the credits Swagler earned from this independent program toward her major. While at sea, she learned how to handle the schooner, raising and lowering sails, hauling anchor, etc.; she also learned about nautical science, student leadership and marine biology through studying tides, scuba diving and snorkeling. Through this experience, Swagler also became certified as a rescue scuba diver and emergency first responder, and received her International Certificate of Competence (ICC) for sailing.

The students remained on the boat for most of the trip, where they had class, dined and slept. "When I found out I could live on a sailboat for 80 days I jumped at the chance," said Swagler. The students were able to visit onshore destinations as well, where they hiked volcanoes and experienced the culture and food. Some even had the opportunity to meet singer Jimmy Buffett at a regatta that was the inspiration for his song "Cheeseburger in Paradise."

"I experienced a different kind of closeness with these people than others," said Swagler. "My crew was definitely a second family Because it was so hands on, I learned more easily because I could see the practical portions of the learning, opposed to just the theory-based [portions]."

With hopes to study marine biology in graduate school, Swagler said this is an experience she would most certainly do again. A blog of the students' experience can be viewed here

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