Two students of the Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Pécs had the opportunity to participate in the unique, experiential learning course International Tourism and Hospitality Academy at Sea (ITHAS) that has been created by dr. Nevenka Čavlek, professor at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Economics and Business. They sailed the Persian Gulf on board of the Shabab Oman II, at the invitation of the Royal Navy of Oman. This time, we asked Patrik Varga, Economist in Tourism and Catering major, about his experiences at the academy.
What was your motivation?
I was quite interested in ITHAS, since it combines travelling and learning as well. It was definitely a unique opportunity, which does not come around often in our lives.
Everything I studied in class, I could put into practice, and I was able to gain first-hand experience about tourism, from a practice-oriented perspective.
What was this one month with ITHAS like?
It was a life-changing, eye-opening opportunity that I cannot possibly describe in words. I was part of a fantastic cultural journey where everyone, as a floating diplomat, brought their own culture with them to the Persian Gulf and we became almost like a family by the end. We have been to six countries, which is fantastic, not only from the cultural side, but also from the perspective of sustainability as an educational part.
Adventure, academy, family - if I had to describe ITHAS in three keywords.
For me, the journey showed that life is much more and more colourful than I thought. I have improved many of my skills, like time management, leadership skills, adaptation, and openness to the new.
Were there any challenges?
There were tiring days as we were 50-50% of the ship's crew and members of the ITHAS academy. It was a challenge for many to get used to the tight schedule and rules of the more rigorous navy ship. What took a toll on me was that on the ship I got very close to a very nice Canadian girl, (with whom, unfortunately, our lives have since taken a different direction) and it was very difficult to let go when my plane left for home. Perhaps that and leaving the ship and crew as my second family, were the most difficult parts.
Interview by: Mariann TÓTH
Photos: Patrik Varga