Our arrival in Italy was exciting, it being our first port. Every SAS student was not just happy to step on land and away from the sea sickness but extremely excited to use some “free wifi” to tell family and friends back home about what a beautiful ship we have, and how we are all settling into a new lifestyle. In the middle of our trip, an email from semester at sea pops on our screens saying we are not travelling to Turkey anymore due to some problems regarding the ISIS attacks. The Shipboard Community decided to go to Croatia instead of Turkey. Most of us were disappointed because it was just our second port and nobody was ready for surprises like there. We got back on the ship with absolutely no idea what we were planning to do in our next port.
And as we entered the beautiful country of Croatia, we were surprised to see its beauty giving us a pleasant feeling of happiness. It was a really good surprise to spend our time in the pebbles of beaches. It would definitely not beaut the idea of the Turkish cuisine and hamam bath, but the country was stunning and picture perfect. We landed in Dubrovnik, a beautiful city that became a part of Croatia in late 90s. The first day I had my field lab and we went around the city walls followed by a guest lecturer in the University of Dubrovnik. It was my first field lab, which turned out to be really good. The guest lecture talked about Croatia and his views of Croatia on joining European Union. Croatia is a small and a beautiful country, which recently became a part of European Union. Second day in Dubrovnik was all about water sports and adventure. We went for kayaking and cliff diving. This was first time for both of those activities and it was simply amazing. We tried the specialty of Croatia, the Octopus salad, and ate fancy meals. Ticking off those things out of my bucket list, I thanked SAS for making each of these experiences count.
The third day I went to the city of Split that is north of Dubrovnik and visited the beautiful waterfalls in KRKA on the following day. The last day we came back to Dubrovnik and went to visit the GAME OF THRONES site. Yes, it was real. The Walk of Shame, Joffrey’s marriage and all the Kings landing was set up inside the city walls in Croatia. Being a hardcore GOT fan, I simply loved this tour and it was the highlight of Croatia.
And here again it feels amazing sitting on the deck in the bright sun and writing my experiences of this beautiful journey. I feel lucky to be a part of this beautiful journey, for not everybody gets a chance to have a moment like this. The crystal blue water and the endless ocean is a beauty. Soon we will be out of the Greek waters and will make our way to our next port Spain.
The experience in Greece was different to what I was expecting. We just had two days between Greece and Croatia, and all I could learn about Greece was it financial crisis and the rising debt of the country. Being an Economics student and taking two of the high-level economics classes on ship, the Greek Financial crisis was the major topic for me. We had an Inter-port professor from an American University of Greece on board from Croatia to Greece, who talked to us about how Greeks are living their life, their culture, food and details about how to deal with the sensitivity of the crisis in their country being a tourist. In my class, he discussed the problem of Greece and weather they should leave the European Union or not? The unemployment level is currently around 25% and the stores are empty with no work. On top of that there are refugees from Syria and other part of Africa who are trying to enter into EU through Greece. There is so much going on which made me more excited to reach Greece sooner.
So, this is the beauty of Semester at Sea! You are taught about the current issues in the country you are about to visit which makes an hour of class feel shorter with the ever rising curiosity to learn more, making it even more interesting to step out of the ship into the world of practicality.
The first day in Greece we went to the Acropolis and around the city of Athens. Acropolis had a beautiful view from its top and you could see the whole city of Athens. The second day I took an early morning flight to an island called Santorini, which I always dreamed of going. I was so excited to go over there and see the white and blue architecture as shown in the Google images. Yes it is thousand times more beautiful than the images. We went to a sunset point in Oia, which had the breathtaking view of the sunset. Look for it in the image below. I felt so happy for just having to see so much around the world in such a short span of my life. Thanks to my family and friends who supported me and made this possible.