I just got back from my third trip abroad with students and this year’s trip was the best yet! We had been organizing it for almost two years so the students were all very excited when we met up at the airport to start our 9-day journey together. I organized the trip this year with the French teacher at my school so we split the itinerary between France, Switzerland and Germany so students could get more than one cultural and linguistic experience. This was a great decision because it made the trip more interesting and beneficial to the students, in my opinion.
The only bad part of the trip was the first day, because we left St. Louis at 10 a.m. and had a layover in Atlanta. We boarded and left Atlanta at 3 p.m. and flew ahead of schedule, which meant arriving in Paris at 5 a.m. Needless to say it was a long day of travel with no sleep that continued into the first official day of sightseeing, but we were all too exhausted to really enjoy it. I even took a nap in the Louvre (sorry, Mona Lisa).
After the first day, everything was wonderful. My favorite part of these trips is seeing the students’ excitement and curiosity as we tour historical sites and experience the local lifestyle. I was especially impressed this year by how open and adventurous this group of students was. They tried unusual foods, spoke to natives, ventured off to explore in their own small groups, and participated in every planned activity. The highlight of our itinerary was definitely in Switzerland when we rode the world’s steepest cog railway up Mount Pilatus (about 7,000 ft. high) and then rode a gondola down. Even students who were afraid of heights loved this adventure to see the beautiful Swiss landscape.
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. I love giving students the opportunity to connect what we learn in the classroom with the real world, but even more than this, I love opening students’ eyes to the world at large and sparking in them a love of travel. So many of them mentioned how they can’t wait to go back to Europe or travel somewhere else now thanks to this trip. Some even knew they would study abroad now once they start university. That’s the best gift a language teacher could ask for.