Blog post by Tobias • September 1, 2019

Firstly, to introduce myself: I am Tobias Zijlstra. I am 16 years old, and I live in the Netherlands with my parents and my sister. This year, I will be taking part in School at Sea, a six-month programme which provides students with the opportunity to continue schooling whilst travelling aboard a sailing ship. The global private tuition company Tutors International, which has a specialist sea-based tuition division called Sea Tutors, has provided sponsorship. This funding has given me the chance to sail with School at Sea from October 2019 through to April 2020.

To give you more an idea of who I am, I go to school at a fairly small secondary school in Arnhem which is called Montessori College Arnhem. This is going to be my fourth year of HAVO (‘higher general continued education’), which should prepare me for the University of Applied Science. At school my favourite subjects are physics, maths, and English. Last year I had a great physics teacher who let me borrow some of his books on subjects that I found interesting.

I have many interests, which tend to have a technical focus. One of these things is photography; every day I take many pictures of nature, people and the city. Sometimes I post my pictures on EyeEm. This is an app where photographers like me can post their pictures, and sometimes sell them. I also enjoy making and editing films with friends; sketching with pencils; and being outdoors. I enjoy sailing, flying, scuba diving and learning new things.

At the moment I work as a store clerk and as a cashier in a supermarket. What I really like is that I can now do almost any job in the supermarket. This means that my work there has become a lot more interesting than a month ago when I could only restock the shelves because I was still 15.

I want to discover the world, experience different international cultures, and explore the different lifestyles other people have worldwide. I can`t wait to go out into the world and explore what the world has to offer me, especially at sea because the sea gives me a feeling of peace and being at home that I don’t have on land.

During the holidays last year I took part in a pilot holiday camp where I had a few flying lessons. I thought that was really cool and I loved it. But when I went sailing with the three-masted topsail schooner The Oosterschelde it really felt like home. One of the things I am hoping to find out during the School at Sea trip is if working at sea is what I want to do for a living.

Though I like to go to school because I can meet my friends there, I feel that the normal way of teaching at school (sitting in a classroom, listening to a teacher talk, and receiving homework instructions) doesn’t work that well for me. That is why I want to do this trip, because I believe that the different and more active way of teaching works better for me. For me (and probably many other people) the best way to learn something is to do it and to link it with something that you can experience in your life.

This way of learning by experiencing is at the heart of what School at Sea tries to do. They think that every child can achieve their best but that the way of teaching the subject to the child matters. School at Sea not only offers a different way of learning the normal school subjects, but it also teaches students how to take the lead. They also want us to learn how to improve by facing mistakes and learning from them. These skills will help me to develop my character, and are just some of the many reasons why I’m really looking forward to this trip.

I plan to update this blog regularly with my progress in the School at Sea journey, including visual and video content. Next up, I’ll be writing about my fundraising efforts. I look forward to sharing this once-in-a-lifetime journey with you!