This has really been a marvellous project and it has lead me into paths in which I never I would cross before. Learning the Slovak language with Olga has to be the highlight of it all since she is such an engaging and insightful teacher, it has been very enjoyable to approach the foreign language. I also keep reminding myself what a wonderful team I belong to and how we met with our problems and overcame them one by one, as a unity and being very considerate towards others who have extra commitments.
I really appreciated this project! Despite there being a lot to do especially within a group that dropped to only 4 members, I found the work load manageable and enjoyable. Meeting someone from the Slovak community was really special, and I truly think I may have made a long term friend out of the experience, as we are still in contact with each other. The people I worked with in my group were fantastic also, passionate, independent and hardworking, it is hard to believe I have only known them two weeks. As for the lectures, I got to learn about topics that massively enriched the knowledge I already had from doing my undergraduate degree in Politics and East European Studies, and found that these lectures really interested me. Likewise I have never been interested in documentary film making, despite watching many documentaries, until these past two weeks and I found that working with Dieter particularly made me see the potential of documentary film, and it is something I will hopefully continue with in later life. Overall, I have found this experience to be good, albeit stressful at times, and it saddens me that this is the last year the Danube strand will run as it means I cannot recommend it to anyone.
The experience comes to a close, and it has not been a cruise! Rather, we have sailed hard and strong and I must say I am left exhausted yet elated from our adventure. I did not expect to learn, do and live as much as I did. I am grateful for the amazing crew members I got to meet and sail with! I am amazed at the resourcefulness, the energy and optimism our crew demonstrated. This experience is, to me, a nice ending for a semester and for my “year abroad from the US”- I could not have wished for a bigger “bang” to end this chapter. The Danube on Thames strand has driven down the nail on what it means to be in Europe- and being a citizen who can theoretically go anywhere or/and meet everybody and anybody. Cultures and people meddle, flow into each other as the Danube strands come together to create such a strong and praised river; it is vital yet it used to be dangerous to navigate, underlying our need to be respectful and to listen to others.
Danube On Thames was maybe the best finale I could have had for my first year of uni and away from home. I must admit that learning about the Danube and about Danubian countries gave me a sort of homesickness, but that was not necessarily a bad feeling. Rather, I learned to appreciate my own country’s diversity and cultural blend. I guess seeing your home from so many different perspectives gives you a strong sense of identity as well as an overview of what it means to be a citizen of the world. I enjoyed the language sessions and I’m grateful to Olga for her support and passion. As for my team, I’d like to thank them for being so energetic and optimistic. We worked perfectly together and I, for one, never felt that there’s too big a workload. I enjoyed writing on this blog and felt the whole programme was a good opportunity for all of us to develop skills we might not have known we had.
We’d like to thank all of you who have been sailing with us through this blog. Now that we anchored, we hope you’ll have a great summer and hope we’ll see you again on next year’s cruise!