It’s over now. My voyage around the world has come to a quick halt and kicked us off in Fort Lauderdale. Our home for the past four months just abruptly decided that we were old enough to go off on our own and travel the world without her safe security blanket waiting for us back at a front. I don’t know who will continue travelling among us, who is ready to move on with their lives, but what I do know is that who ever got off that ship yesterday in Fort Lauderdale is not the same person that got on it in Ensenada, Mexico.
This journey was a long one measured in time, distance, and emotional rollercoasters. Some days you were up, in a country, trying their local cuisine, bartering with market vendors and taking jumping pictures in front of monumental sites, while others went down as you missed the comforts of home. I went on this voyage not knowing what to expect, not knowing what would happen, how it would happen or how it would change me. Once again, all I knew is that it would change me.
Today, sitting here in Miami, with my travels not completely over yet, I’m still trying to comprehend what has happened to me. It is the small things that bring me back, and I notice a small fraction of it.
Last night in a Taxi coming back from South Beach with a friend for Semester at Sea, we had just celebrated Cinqo de Mayo and treated the festivities as a cultural experience, studying the American culture and their differences. We got in the Taxi after a long night and when we found out our driver was from Brazil we had an in depth conversation with him about his country, the Amazon, the troubles in Rio de Janeiro, his home town, concerning the mudslides and the storms. He was impressed with how much we knew, and we were genuinely interested in learning more about him, just like we took the time to learn the names and stories of taxi drivers in all the other countries. I realized how different our conversation would have been with this taxi driver before this trip. How we would of just discussed the party, and would of had no connection to his home. Now we do, now I can call myself a global citizen, one who has seen the faces of the people.
I can put faces to the names of poverty, the word hunger has a memory snap shot of a family in my head and India is no longer a place on a map that I associate with Russel Peters. It is real. All of it is real and is happening right now.
I am grateful for Semester at Sea, and now, 109 days later and over 26,000 nautical miles around the world, what ever that means, I am almost home.
For those of you who have done Semester at Sea, we have turned a dream into reality, and as Marvel said, “This ship may not have been reality, but everything that happened was real”.
*** I’ll be officially home in Toronto on May 11th for family and friends who were wondering, also the email firstname.lastname@example.org is no longer working.