The first moments in the ship were most exciting for everyone. We got to meet all the staff and crew members as well as our new fellow classmates. Everyone in the vessel is very nice and the activities are very thrilling! We do all kinds of things, together we pull up sails or go to the bow, we have fun activities like salsa night or music club, we cook in a moving kitchen and take classes in the open ocean, but the best thing for me is working with the maritime crew. Since the day I arrived, I have made a lot of friends and I have been having so much fun.
The first days at sea where rough for some people. Most where very seasick and threw up many times during the first days out. Katherine, the nurse, gave us some tips on how to feel better but her most important idea was “don’t stop moving”. Those of us who did not get sea sick tried to make the others feel better, simply by helping them with their tasks when they were feeling down or trying to cheer them up with one or two jokes. Cody, the shipboard director made a ‘puke party’ at colours one day, it was very funny (don’t worry it was just music and dancing to cheer us up). Also, classes have started now and everybody has their new schedule. Getting used to our new life has been challenging for all, and it still is. We are in a new community with people we have never seen before and meeting everyone can be as thrilling and as exciting as frightening … and having a moving house can be one of the trickiest parts.
This is the helm, students use it to stir the boat during watches. It is located on the bridge deck and it is very pretty, it looks like the ones in the pirate ships.
One of the toughest challenges is sharing our new house with 78 people. The personal space is very limited but in a way it has brought us all together. We are all going through the same situation and therefore understand what each of us is sacrificing. As for the duties we have as part of the “Gulden Leeuw”, working in the galley during clean up can also be a hard part of the journey, but we have to get used to keeping our home clean and tidy.
During free time, we have been creating many clubs that are lead by the students. Today was Salsa Saturday, which was lead by Emma, It was so much fun! She and Mairead taught us some of the steps and we danced all over the deck to latin music. After a few minutes, everybody was down on the deck dancing and someone put up some disco lights, which were very colourful.
Aside from this, there are also some very interesting clubs like music club, scuba diving club, baking club, and many more. I am part of the caffeine club, which consists of tasting different types of regional coffee or tea in the different port we are in. We also use it as an excuse to chat and hang out.
During this short period of time, one of my favourite activities has been climbing aloft. We climb our way to the top of the mast sail with a harness and grab on to some wires at the top. I got to watch the sunset from the highest part and it was amazing, you can see 360 degrees of ocean surrounding you and it is the best feeling ever. For some people heights are a big thing and have had some trouble with the climbing, but I think everyone is doing great! Eventually everybody will start climbing higher. Another thing I have enjoyed is being at the bow. A few days ago, during watch, I got up there with Shadday and cut out some cables that needed to be taken off of one of the sails. While we were there, dolphins began to swim all around us and it was great! Lots of them were swimming with the pace of the boat right beneath us.
This is the main deck where we lift up some of the main sails. Shadday to the left and me to the right, when we were fixing some sails.
Being in Class Afloat has been a mixture of emotions; many highs and many lows. I think most people definitely miss their comforts at home as well as their families and friends, but the experience of living in a boat is incomparable and unique. Only once in a lifetime you get to travel around the world with people your age with the same purpose and learn about the physical world in itself. Being so disconnected from the social network and the cellphones and wifi is also a big change to our daily lives. We have no service at all and no way to communicate with our people back home, but I believe it is a great way to make stronger bonds with the people around us and to be more aware of our surroundings. We are learning to be present in the present.
Here you become a citizen of the world, you become the ambassador of your own country; we exchange cultures and traditions as well as expressions and beliefs; we talk about our points of view and different perspectives. We interact by being unique, each of us in our own way, and we learn so much from each other. It has only been a few days and for me and it already feels like family. I feel cared for and valued. We have created an atmosphere where we know we are in this together no matter our differences. Even though we may not know each other so well yet, we are a already a team.
Written by: Class Afloat Student, Eugenia Mendez Gadsden