Future Architect on Board

Have you ever felt a sense of empowerment after successfully completing an important milestone in your life? All that energy and empowerment triggered in me the need to go out and discover new things and places. The end of something, also meant for me the beginning of new and exciting things, and I was not aware that that beginning could mean a life lesson.

After graduating from architecture school in Peru, I was totally focused on going somewhere in the world. At 24, I had this fascination and desire to discover something new and it didn’t matter to me where to go or how to get there. Luckily for me, my sister told me about a job opportunity on a cruise ship, where most passengers where Italian and thanks to the years I had spent in an Italian high school, I was hired as a waiter for the officers. What did I have to loose? I didn’t have to pay for rent, food and I had the chance to travel around the world for seven months for free. Best deal ever!

Behind me is the Costa Classica, my home for 7 months.
Katakolon, Greece, 2001

Costa Classica was the name of the cruise ship, a huge steel structure floating in the middle of the ocean. My first day as a waiter was tough (under my own standards, of course). My feet hurt like crazy from walking several hours from place to place, and I had never felt those levels of stress, not even during architecture school. I was attending the most “important” people onboard, including the first officer, the second officer, the priest, the doctor, and others. My daily tasks included picking up the food from the fourth deck, cleaning up the dining room floor, changing all the tablecloths, setting up all the tables, opening several bottles of wine, and more. Although each task seemed simple on its own, putting them together was time-consuming for one person. I also realized that my new job required me to work ten hours a day with a four-hour break in between, every day, including Saturdays and Sundays. At the end of my first workday, I lay on my bed regretting all the decisions I had made a few weeks before and started feeling miserable.

At that time, I was a people pleaser and would say yes to everything I was asked. I didn’t realize how important time was when waiting tables. “Can you please chop some garlic for me and add it to my pasta?” “Of course!” “Can you please bring me some mangoes from the third deck?” “Don’t mention it!” After two months, I was already exhausted, and my head was full of complaints and regrets about my own decisions. I was feeling angry at myself.

The officer’s dining room.
Costa Classica, 2001

Down the road, I made new friends and met amazing people from all over the world. I used to ask them why they were working on the ship. The most common answer I got was “to support my family and send them money each month.” As for me, I was there to have fun, travel around the world for free, and even get paid for it. I wasn’t the only one with that goal in mind, but I didn’t feel proud of it either after listening to their stories. I realized that while I was looking to satisfy a temporary impulse and desire, there were also people with a different goal in mind: bringing food to their families’ tables by sacrificing time away from them. Little by little, month after month, all my complaints and regrets started to fade away. It was no longer just about me and my desire to travel the world; it was about the experiences and lessons that I was gaining along the way.

By the end of my seven months on the cruise ship, not only had satisfied my initial desire of “traveling” around the world, but I also realized that I had grown as a person. Working on the ship provided me with the opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds, beliefs, goals and lifestyles, broadening my perspective and exposing me to a world beyond my own little bubble.

Luis Furushio

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