Read about my packing, quick trip to London, and my time in Hamburg.
I board the ship tomorrow!! It’s so crazy I can’t believe the time is finally here! I’ve wanted to do Semester at Sea since I was in high school when I first heard about it. There was so much preparation going into this trip, it just felt like the day would never actually come.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with the program: The Semester at Sea voyage gives participants a truly global comparative experience as the ship explores various cultures around the world, visiting Africa, Asia, and North America. While on the voyage, students can earn up to 15 college credits through Colorado State University. The voyage is 107 days, 11 countries, 13 cities, and 4 continents. Visit ww.semesteratsea.org for more information.
So, as the ship departs from Hamburg, Germany, we all have to fly there first. On the way to Germany, I’m stopping in London for two days to visit my best friend, then I’ll spend about four days in Hamburg before embarkation day.
Preparing for this program was not easy. If you think packing for a regular, week-long vacation is hard, imagine packing for a whole semester! Now, throw in the fact that I will be at sea, so if I forget anything, that will be kind of hard to resolve.
The whole process took a couple of weeks to get everything together; shampoo, toothpaste, medicines, snacks, etc. all for four months. Getting all my vaccines, visas, and the right travel gear was the other challenge. I had to keep in mind that since I am traveling all over the world, I had to pack for all kinds of weather. Also, I have to make sure I have enough things to keep me busy during the long days at sea. There are no restaurants or movie theaters for thousands of miles, so I’m stocking myself with plenty of movies, books, and tv shows to stay occupied. But, two duffel bags and one carry on later, I’m officially ready!
I’ve been to London seven or eight times before, but this time was different because we got to stay in THE most amazing hotel. We stayed in the Shang-ri La which is located in The Shard, the tallest building in London. My room basically had floor-to-ceiling windows instead of walls, and the view was absolutely amazing. Definitely one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in!
My mom and I with the view in the background.
Since I was only there for two days, it was a pretty rushed trip. I met up with my best friend Holly, who I went to school with in Miami from seventh-tenth grade. She is from England and now goes to university there. We basically just shopped on Oxford Street, went out to eat (a lot), visited the pool in one of the top levels of my hotel, and went out at night with her friends. The going out was way different than going out in Gainesville, to say the least. The music wasn’t totally different, but there was some British music that I hadn’t heard before. It was definitely a cool experience going out in London though. It is such an international city so it was nice meeting people from all over the world.
So, the view here is just as amazing? I’m staying at the Westin hotel in Hamburg and again I am #blessed with the floor-to-ceiling window. Hamburg is way prettier than I expected- gorgeous architecture, some new modern looking apartments, and canals and bridges running all throughout the city. One thing I’ve noticed about traveling is there is so much hidden beauty in every city.
I met with my friends Hannah and Lina, who I went to school with while living in Trinidad from eleventh-twelfth grade. Lina lives in Hamburg and Hannah happened to be on vacation here at the same time, so it worked out perfectly. We went shopping and ate at a steakhouse in Jungernstieg, one of the busiest areas of Hamburg. I recommend reaching out to anyone you know while traveling if you can- it’s been so helpful having my friends that are locals show me around.
I got to Hamburg on Wednesday and I am writing this on Saturday, the day before embarkation. Tomorrow has been a date that has been looming above my head for months now- so many nerves and excitement leading up to it. This is an experience unlike anything I have ever done before, and I look forwarding to sharing it with you all starting tomorrow!