I wrote the following blog yesterday morning in the bright yellow sunshine of southern Portugal. After writing, I took a walk for a last look at the town– the glittering water, a fisherman at work early in a small boat painted with wide blue and red stripes. I said goodbye to the postcard colours and the muscled heat, and the almost impossible access to the Internet. I am sending the blog from London. It’s early morning. The sky is high and streaked with a dramatic sunrise after yesterday’s bumpy thunderstorm. The air is clear. It already feels a little like home.
August 4, 2010: Last Morning in Lagos:
We celebrated the end of the course last night with a slideshow of snapshots of the entire trip. Happy faces, goofy poses, clusters of friends leaning together for the photos. In the background, a pastoral castle in Wales, the grey streets of London, the orange and terracotta streets of Lisbon, cityscapes and long views of land and water, the charm of little cobbled streets and their intriguing warren of stairways. We came to experience these places, but the photos remind me that the friendships mattered most, that it was our time together in these places that we will remember.
In two days we will be home. We take a bus to Faro this morning after breakfast, fly to Gatwick, transfer to College Hall, our London home. Out to Mr. Wu’s for Chinese buffet, then off to bed in anticipation of morning travels to Heathrow and the long flight to Vancouver.
It’s been a great trip. I’ve only written about a thin slice of this experience—the fact is we’ve been busy with our courses, our excursions, and our friendships (that and the 8 Euro / hour Internet charges on this last leg of the journey). I haven’t said too much about the classes because, as perennial students and teachers, classes, study, essays, tests and exams are a fact of life—like eating breakfast or finding a way to do the laundry. But the courses deserve their own mention. Yesterday was test and exam day, final course marks and student progress interviews. We’re still digesting the results.
Experience the World is, first and foremost, a travelling school. Mr. Hughes and Mr. Waterhouse address administrative matters daily. We teachers plan, teach, mark, talk to students, adjusting our tasks from day to day as need and opportunity arise. The students study a great deal. They spend four hours a day in class with very few days off. They do homework during the afternoons and evenings, attend tutorials and interviews with teachers. They might do this poolside, on a friend’s balcony or in the lounge chairs of the hotel next to the band with the trombones, but the point is they do it. They take an entire course in one month, and they work hard at it. In the end, they are students taking a course. They might be elated at their results or a little disappointed, but this is normal, and they wouldn’t be real courses if it were otherwise.
Congratulations to all 39 of our students! You accomplished a great deal in one month. A special congratulations to our 4 SMUS students who travelled without their familiar company, but who made new friends in fabulous places. Well done, each of you!