Its been 6 months since I got back from my incredible time on the Thor Heyerdahl at the end of April and I am so happy to be home with friends and family. When I first got back I was able to catch up with everyone about the months I was away and it was a buzzing time of parties and telling stories and reliving all the experiences I had while I was away.
Then things got a bit lonely. Everyone else was back in school: My Thor shipmates in Germany just carried on in their classes and my English friends were buys studying for their year 12 end of year exams.
I wasn’t going to sit around at home doing nothing until the World Scout Jamboree in July, so I decided to get a job and was lucky to find a role as an assistant instructor at an outdoor and water sports centre. It was great fun leading groups, showing kids how to make fire or build rafts or working with my colleagues on the water or on the grounds. I learnt a lot and hope that I can continue to work there in future holidays and on weekends. In between I visited a few universities in Scotland with a view of applying there next year. All very exciting but still I was thinking back to the Thor and missing my ship routine, the challenges in the wild and my community on board despite reconnecting with my life at home.
Then suddenly it was July and I got really busy with preparing for and travelling to the World Scout Jamboree in the USA, which was a great opportunity to meet lots of likeminded people from across the world. It was something I will remember forever.
I also spent some time on a family holiday on the American West Coast. We were able to visit Lake Tahoe and Yosemite which were both beautiful and made me think back to all of the amazing places I saw while travelling on the Thor.
In September, I started back at school now in the lower sixth. I had concerns about settling in with a new year group and getting back into an academically rigorous full on school schedule but actually I feel that I am settling in well. I am focusing on my studies both in at school and in German outside of school, I know I need to work hard to get the grades I need for uni. So far so good.
I’ve also been homesick for the Thor. A few weeks ago I held presentations at school talking about my journey and I reflected on how different my life was on board, how much happened, how much I learnt. The life I lead at home is such a contrast from the nature driven challenges on the ship.
I miss being in nature, having the sea and sky around us and using those things to power our journey. The wind pushing us and the sun and the stars allowing us to navigate. I miss the animals, the whales that came and visited us, the birds that circled over the ship and the plankton that lit up the sea like a starry night on the night watches.
I miss the Thor itself, how things were reduced to essentials but everything is always in the right place. The galley where we had the best washing up parties and made some of the most delicious food. The cabins and bunks where we rested, laughed and could express ourselves. The mess, the centre of our community, with student meetings, meals, lessons and just chilling and playing cards or watching movies. The navigation room where hours were spent labouring over sextant measurements and charts.
I miss the travelling, I miss going to bed and knowing that when I wake up I will be in a completely different place with a new day and new opportunities. This journey has really sparked my wanderlust and has shown me that exploring the planet and connecting with people and wilderness around our world is something I need to be doing for the rest of my life.
But most of all I miss the community that I had on board. The group of people that were first just crew mates but grew to be family and really close friends. I couldn’t have imagined having gone on this journey with any other people. I have met up with those who I was closest with and we recently had a reunion with everyone in Germany at the beginning of September. It was so nice to see everyone and catch up about what we had done since getting home.
I think of them and the journey every day, more than once and I am of course following the next group of KUSis as they are off on their big journey, often wishing I was there rather than revising for my fist Chemistry tests in rainy Twickenham.
But most of all I am so grateful that I was able to take part in this amazing experience. I have learnt a lot about myself. I know I can deal with much harder challenges than I thought, whether its freezing weather, getting up and doing night watch at 2 am , climbing rigging in strong winds, living without warm water or cooked food for days on end, bad ankles, strange food, homesickness or German exams. I am stronger and more confident because of this.
I will never completely lose the part of me that was formed on this journey. I am forever changed, a new, hopefully better version of myself, ready to take on other challenges in the future. I will always be looking for the next adventure, whether its a physical experience or just gaining new knowledge.
And I will go back on the ocean. I’m going to get my RYA Day Skipper qualification as soon as possible once I’m 18 and I’ll be trying for a stint on the Thor as crew as soon as they’ll let me.
Thanks to all who made this amazing adventure possible for me, before, during and after the journey, thanks for changing my life forever!
I hope I will be able to share many more adventures with you.
Until then the girl is out of the Thor, but the Thor and all her lessons are inside me – always.