Class Afloat, what a strange concept it is. Why choose to spend nine months on a sailboat, with people you don’t even know, being seasick, depriving yourself of well-needed sleep, having blocks of 15 consecutive days of school and being away from your family for all this time? Precisely for all these reasons!
Six months ago, I was on a flight for Amsterdam. I came with a friend I met, Julien, who was also coming with me. I had no idea in what I was embarking on. Had I ever been on a sailboat before? Never. I had never done school in English either or been away from my parents for more than two weeks. Let me tell you that I was frightened and not to lie, so overwhelmed for days. I met the director, the shipboard director and then the bosun. Oh, they were all very nice, but gosh, I was scared! So much information was given out to me, several rules that I wasn’t used to were imposed, so many new people from everywhere and names to remember, a new place to live in and not much time to adapt to such a small environment. On top of that, they didn’t make it easy for us, eh. After the few days in Amsterdam, we were at sea for two weeks. We learned all sailing maneuvers, settled into a new routine and got some time to adjust to the ship life. But nonetheless, I was missing my home very much.
In Portugal, I finally had Wi-Fi and got to talk to my friends, my parents; it was hard for all of us. Then, I met this guy, here, and we became really close. I was then feeling better and didn’t miss home as much. Then, the weeks passed, and one, two, three months. “Home” in Quebec felt so far from where I was now. In all this time, I had forgotten why I came, all the reasons for why I left home. At the same time, I realized: I grew up. All of what had been discontenting my mind in the past had disappeared and all the importance I gave to all that back home was gone. It didn’t matter anymore. Living in such a restrained space with the same 60 people made me give more attention and more significance to small simple things. For example, time for myself is precious and I forgot what it was until I came here. I learned how to give time for myself, for example, by doing elementary actions like eating my breakfast at the aft table and admiring the sunrise, or doing some yoga after the 6 pm muster.
I felt so far from home. From the opposite side of the world, I was asking myself where was home. Living in such a small community isn’t easy and you don’t always feel at your place. But at the same time, I wondered how it would be when I’d go back to Montreal. Would it feel more felicitous? Would I just go back to my old life, my old friends and to the same old drama? Then, I thought, that’s why I’m here; to decide of my future, to grow and become the person I’ve wanted to be.
Taking some self-time to admire sunrises and sunsets and to do some yoga, etc.
I’ve met so many wonderful people here. They’ve helped me go through bad times and, of course, they’ve made the trip amazing for me. The teachers I had the chance to encounter, the maritime crew who’ve taught me so much, and my friends with whom I’ve been travelling and learning for the past six months.
Coming to an unfamiliar place full of strangers was challenging and quite hard, but not as much as saying goodbye is. A month ago, I had to say bye to my good friend Aina who only had the chance to do one semester and who is now living in Spain. I know by coming here I’ve made friends for life. Of course, you can’t be friends with the 60 people you’re living with, but all of them now have a place in my heart and they will always be welcome in my home, in my city.
A good memory of a fun ride aboard the Black Betty (our dingy), showing some friends and our “adoptive parents”: our lovely shipboard director (Steve) and medical officer (Kristine)
Over the past few months, I’ve assimilated how to live with the crew and learn how to accommodate with our differences. Getting to know them a bit more, I learned that none of us are from the same background, the same city and the same culture, but we all have at least one thing in common: the reason of why we are here and the will to be fully present and to live this incredible adventure all together. I’ve learned to be more grateful for what life gave me. My parents, my teachers, my friends, have all contributed to what I consider my personal success. This boat, my new home, made me live so much and I could never have achieved that without these people beside me. To grow, to discover, to make life-long friendships, to learn more about yourself and your capacities, to open yourself up to new horizons and amazing cultures and even discover places you didn’t even think existed, that’s why you want to come on Class Afloat.
Written by: Alexandrine Lauzé, Class Afloat student 2017-2018