My last day in Cyprus, unfortunately, has arrived! While I am sad to leave this island and all of the wonderful people and places it holds, I am excited to see my family. I have not been home since spring break back in the first week of March, so I am excited to spend some time catching up and recounting all of the stories of my Mediterranean excursion.
The first obstacle in successfully flying home, however, was a negative COVID-19 test (for some reason the U.S. still requires it—I think they just forgot to lift the requirement, to be honest). So, we departed at 8:00 AM from the hotel to get tested at the pharmacy. Fortunately, we all tested negative—so I will be on my way home tomorrow!
After getting the tests out of the way, we proceeded to our final company visit in Vasiliko, a coastal city between Limassol and Larnaca. We heard from two companies: Vasiliko Cement and VTTV. Vasiliko Cement, as the name implies, exports cement and clinker (an intermediate in making cement) from the Vasiliko port, which is the largest industrial port in Cyprus. Cement, as it happens, is the third largest export from Cyprus behind medicine and Halloumi cheese (I am not surprised by the latter!). I was particularly fascinated by the conveyor belts connecting cement silos to ships berthed in the port. Vasiliko Cement clearly requires a great deal of engineering expertise, particularly in the chemical engineering space, so I was interested to hear about temperature control mechanisms and use of additives in the cement production process.
After Vasiliko Cement, we heard from VTTV, an oil storage terminal under the umbrella of VTTI, which manages storage terminals around the world. The meaning of the acronyms eludes me, which is a bit embarrassing because it was one of the Kahoot questions at the beginning of the presentation. Nonetheless, I found the VTTV speaker to be highly engaging as she walked us through storage and berthing logistics as well as the role of VTTV in global oil flow. The port managed by VTTV was quite interesting to look at, as it contains four berths and a long, T-shaped loading arm. The speaker explained that VTTV is located downstream in the global oil supply chain, after the oil is refined and before it is transported to consumers.
Once the presentations had concluded, we were each given hard hats and red construction jackets to wear on our tour of the port facilities. Oddly enough, it never seemed like we needed the gear, but it made for great pictures nonetheless. I was quite impressed by the size of the tanks, silos, and cranes across both Vasiliko Cement and VTTV. As evidenced by the extensive control panel in the Vasiliko Cement facility, these plants require constant supervision and careful control.
Since Exxon never confirmed that they could accommodate a visit, we had the rest of the afternoon free. So, our group drove to Larnaca for a beach day. A few friends and I got a buffet lunch with a view of the sea, then relaxed in lounge chairs for the rest of the afternoon. I tried to soak in the clear Mediterranean waters knowing that they will soon be replaced with the fun, but admittedly less pristine waters of the Jersey shore.
After the beach, we drove back to Nicosia and had a debriefing meeting with the group. I want to emphasize just how amazing this experience has been, both in terms of academics and cultural enrichment. I have made new friends, seen new things, and learned more about myself along the way. All of this learning was made possible by not only Pitt and UNIC faculty, but also the enrichment funds I am lucky enough to receive from the Stamps foundation. After completing the Plus3 trip, I can say that I have gained new leadership, business, and supply chain insights that make me a stronger scientist and young professional. I am so excited to continue exploring the world. This is only the beginning!