School next to the blue ocean

The sound of the ocean, water on the floor and the warm sun in my face. I am sitting on the main deck and we have our first lesson at sea. I can hear the sound of the wind while we are drawing a shell, which we have dissected at first. Since Santa Cruz de Tenerife we have had regular school lessons. When the weather is good, we sit outside, otherwise we are in the messroom. Normally, this is the place where you can meet others to talk to them or play games together, but when we have school there, the rule is to be silent, so that we can concentrate and listen.

The first lesson starts at quarter past 8 and the ninth lesson ends at 05:35 pm on “normal” school days from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, we only have four lessons. The timetable changes every week, that means we do not have the same lessons on the same day of the week. We have school lessons every second day, so in total that is 3 days of school in one week. While one half of us has school, the other is on watch or is cleaning the ship. You also can have internships instead of your watch. Additionally, on our non-school days we get time to learn, revise or practice for school with the support of one teacher. This time is called “Freiarbeit”, but it is in our responsibility what and how we study in this time.

Since we are from all parts of Germany, our study plan is a little bit different. For example, we only have English and Spanish on board and no other languages. Therefore, we will get extra time to prepare ourselves for school at home in the last one to two months of our journey.

In general, we will write one test in each subject. These tests are stretched over the whole time of the journey. Before the voyage with KUS had started, we had to prepare presentations about a certain topic. These presentations are also important for the tests together with the topics we discuss in the lessons. It is pretty cool to have an expert for each topic on board because we can ask them our questions about this topic if we want to and it is more fun to discuss this topic with a classmate. The presentations are about topics which are important to our journey. That is why we had presentations about Tenerife and Thor Heyerdahl for example.

For me, the biggest difference to school at home is that the lessons are very practical. In Spanish for example, we learned how to order something in our first lesson and some days later, we could try that out in Santa Cruz. In addition to that, we had the chance to learn something about the volcanogenic processes of the Teide when we were hiking in Tenerife with the help of our teachers. I think it is much more motivating to learn something that you can really experience or use in real life. School on board is much more exciting because of that, but also a little bit more difficult. We do not have so much time and therefore have to learn faster so that we will reach the same knowledge level as our classmates at home. If you live together with your teachers on one ship, of course, you have the chance to ask them questions nearly every time if you haven´t understood something. This is really helpful to understand topics faster. In addition to that, we have the chance to discuss the topics in our free time with the other students.

To sum up, the first lessons were a little bit difficult because we all had different topics in school, but I think after a short time that will change and we will be on the same level.  At sea, the atmosphere is also totally different in the lessons. For instance, the classes can be interrupted by a whale, a dolphin or a tortoise, just because you have to take the chance to see them if you have the opportunity. I really like the school lessons aboard the Thor Heyerdahl because they are totally different to the ones at home, more practical and we will become more responsible when it comes to studying.