When my grandmother first informed me about our cruise to the Mediterranean my thoughts were automatically of the superficial aspects, I knew three things; I was going to see other cultures, I was going to eat new things and shop, and I was going to get tan. When the trip ended I felt as nothing I thought I knew before meant anything at all.
My trip began in early August with a flight to Barcelona where we met the ship and embarked on our journey; at this time I had no idea of the changes I was going to encounter. The ship was gorgeous and the perfect vessel to serve as my home for the next two weeks. Throughout the trip we stopped at various spots and I tasted new foods, shopped, and of course, got tan just as I had expected. However, the unexpected didn’t occur immediately. At one of our stops we went to Egypt. If I thought I had any realization of what poverty was before Egypt greatly changed any idea I had before. The overwhelming amount of people and beggars shocked me and the dirt and lack of clean water left me more appreciative of my own situation than I had ever been before.
My favorite stop was Positano Italy. The town was gorgeous and everything was so carefree. I have a memory of sitting at a coffee shop in the town and watching the people pass by and feeling that I was experiencing a moment; one of those “moments” where things are so perfect and you’re so happy that you actually stop and take into account the happiness you’re experiencing.I also loved Rome where the history of the town was overwhelming and the food was amazing. Everything was astonishing, at each stop something took my breath away.
In the year before my trip I had gone through some issues, battling with depression and deep in self loathing. When I got on the cruise I felt free and happy. Something about being on the open water for days at a time allowed me to think and that thinking did something beautiful for me. Along with deep thought the people I met were the final piece in the equation that led to the change I went through. The people I met confirmed the saying, “it isn’t where you go it’s who you’re with.” The most influential people I met were two brothers whose outlook on life, life experiences, and hard work both inspired and scared me.
The first brother I met was Adam. Adam was about to start his freshman year at the Ivy League, University of Pennsylvania. He allowed me to talk about everything and most importantly, he listened. Adam inspired me to work hard not by his words but his actions made me want to work harder and get myself into my dream college. The second brother was Sean. While on the cruise I didn’t know much about him expect that he was in my grade and seemed to be an amazing person. I just couldn’t figure out why until after I got home, when I received a letter from him explaining to me his battle with cancer. This knowledge forever changed my life.
When I arrived home it was bittersweet, I missed the ship and the people on it but I also had a newfound appreciation for my home; this was something I didn’t think I would experience until I came home from college. I feel lucky that at age 16 I got the chance to experience something so life changing.
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