For many students, it is a once in a lifetime experience to be able to travel overseas with friends as they explore various cultures, try new things and visit monuments that photographs cannot quite seem to fully capture. Just this past spring break, 36 juniors and seniors who took AP European History said “bon voyage” to the U.S. and boarded a plane at six o’clock in the evening. Todd Grunloh, AP European History teacher and leader of the 2014 Europe Trip, explained to students that they need to make sure they were well rested upon landing.
“The fact that the moment we left the plane we would hit the ground running meant that sleeping during the long flights was crucial in fighting jet lag,” said junior Raj Zaveri. “The excitement of the trip, however, was enough to keep us energized.”
At eight o’clock in the morning (one o’clock Central time), the students landed in Paris. From there, they spent three days in Paris, flew to Florence for two days, and drove to Rome for the last two days. With the two days added on for the flight soaring over the Atlantic Ocean, the excursion lasted for nearly ten days.
“From a cultural standpoint (even though it is similar to the United States), it’s a different pace, different food, the language is different,” Grunloh said. “It’s just really interesting to see kids adjust, and this group did a great job.”
Many students had conflicting opinions on which city was the best to explore, but one can ultimately assume that not one city had a negative reaction, including the first sight students got to see: Paris.
“The streets in Paris truly make you feel like you are back in the French Revolution, and being able to explore them on our own was a great experience,” said junior Justin Smith.
Along with the opportunity to roam around Paris for a day with a group, the tourists also had a chance to visit many monuments including Le Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and one of the most notable: the Eiffel Tower.
“My favorite thing to do was just walk around the cities and see everything, especially when we were on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Nothing can compare to that view,” said senior Cassidy Friedman. “It’s just breathtaking.”
After exploring France, the crew took a plane to Italy. Commonly referred to as the birthplace of pizza, many were blown away at the Italian food.
“After eating in Italy, pizza and pasta will never be the same again!” said senior Jennifer Moore.
In addition to pizza, another group favorite was gelato.
Gelato is the Italian word for ice-cream, and it can be purchased in various countries over Europe, most notably in Italy.
“Gelato was one of our favorite foods. We are all still going through withdrawals,” Friedman said.
As with Paris, students were able to take personal days with a small group to see Florence themselves.
“My friend and I rented bikes at a little shop and rode through the streets of Florence. It was so cool discovering the city for ourselves,” Moore said.
The 36 tourists did a variety of activities and made many memories that will stay with them from the rest of their lives. From visiting the Eiffel Tower, climbing the Duomo, rooming with friends and maybe even getting a bit lost in a city, it is almost certain that these lucky individuals will never forget their experiences. The students of the 2014 AP European History Europe Trip gained a new perspective on life and culture that a high school classroom just isn’t able to explore in a 50 minute class period.