The sites as we walked around our first mainland European port were pleasantly just as one would expect- narrow streets, amazing tapas restaurants and cafes, and old buildings with loads of character! From where we were moored, we could also walk out to a beautiful green space along the water where there are fields of flowers, beaches, sculptures and the oldest operating lighthouse in the world. There was no shortage of areas to explore while on shore leave!
During our stay we also got lots of opportunities to interact with locals which not only exposed the students to a different culture but allowed them to put to practice the Spanish they’ve been learning in class throughout the year. We were graciously invited to the international school Colegio Obradoiro where a few of our students and faculty answered questions about their experience studying/teaching and living on the Sorlandet during a panel discussion. After we got to swim in their pool, play basketball and compete in a football (soccer) match against their students! It was a close game with the score tied at 1-1 until the penalty shootout during which Colegio Obradoiro took home the win! Although the final score was not in our favor, after spending so much time on a ship, it was refreshing for the students to get to run around playing a sport that they love!
After our visit, we made our way back to the Sorlandet with some of the local students to give them a tour of the ship and show them what our life is like to complete this culture exchange.
We also got a visit from groups of students from Chester College International School, who generously let our students write their Advanced Placement (AP) exams at their school. These exams were certainly challenging but our students were glad they did them and even more relieved to have them done!
For field studies, we went to Santiago de Compostela where we walked around to the significant landmarks while learning about the history of the city and the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrimage of Saint James. This was one of the most important pilgrimages for Christians during the Middle Ages, and is now done by hundreds of thousands of hikers or cyclists every year for spiritual reasons, travel and/or sport. Our day was spent strolling through the narrow stone streets to markets and plazas and finally to the beautiful Cathedral where it is said the remains of Saint James are kept.
On May 17th, the students planned some activities on the ship to celebrate Norway’s National Day. The day started off with raising the Norwegian flag as those who knew it sang the national anthem on the aft deck. Later on, Mikael and Captain Halgeir, who signed back on this port, shared with the group the significance of this day in Norway before we all joined in for a parade around the ship followed by cake and snacks prepared by the baking club! It was a great experience to be involved in a cultural event significant to many of our students, crew and the Sorlandet!
by Kelsey Hamel