The students who participated in a busy 11-day trip around the Mediterranean coast sat down with Houston Today to talk about the highs and lows of their adventure, touching on everything from art galleries and high fashion to pickpockets and feeling zonked from jet lag.
It was a first European experience for all five of them — and they have all caught the travel bug. Here are some of their reflections from the voyage.
What was the highlight of the trip for you?
Hanna Cockle: The highlight of the trip for me was probably the food — the food in Italy, the pizza, the gelato, the bread. It was so good!
Maggie Kenzle: My favorite part was all of Italy, like the fishing villages. I hadn’t seen any places like that before. The structure of it all — how everything was set up on a hill. And you could see the ocean from everywhere, and all the colours of the buildings: orange and coral and yellow.
Savannah Sommerfeld: My favourite part was going to all of the museums and experiencing all the local culture. My favorite museum was the one we went to in Venice, the Doge’s Palace. All the paintings were really intricate. I found it really beautiful. And I thought it was interesting how different it is from here, how people live.
Emma Larsen: My favorite part was the shopping, going to all the authentic areas and seeing their differences in fashion and how they decorate things. There were a lot of boutiques and really pretty clothes. I got everything!
Angel DeBock: Probably my favorite part was just walking around and looking and listening to how people act over there, and the different languages. They always warn you that you have to watch out for pickpockets. And they’re not ashamed over there. They’re very expressive and outward.
What was the biggest challenge?
HC: For me it was the airplanes, switching airplanes really fast. We were on airplanes for at least 13 hours. Jet lag is real.
MK: I think the hardest part was sleeping. My sleep schedule was never really adjusted. After a busy day I couldn’t sleep, so I was just really tired all of the time.
SS: The planes were probably the hardest part because we didn’t have a lot of time between our flights. We had four flights to get there: Smithers to Vancouver, Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Milan.
EL: It was definitely exhausting. Just being in one tiny space, it was hard not going totally insane — the planes, the buses. The subways were really scary, especially in Barcelona. There were creepy people there!
AD: The biggest hurdle was knowing what you’re buying for food when the menu is not English. I was craving seafood, so we ordered fish, but it came with a bean mixture and sausage. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting.
And lessons that you took away from it?
MK: We all want to go back again now, because it was a really good experience.
SS: We learned a lot on our way that you don’t really pick up from reading. It feels different.
AD: If you think about it, their countries have been there for centuries, and Canada is only 150 years old. It’s a lot different.
HC: The experience in general has changed our views on travelling. For me, as soon as I got home I wanted to go back. It was so much fun and the group that we were with was amazing.
EL: I just wish it was a bit more accessible to other kids to be able to go on this trip.