People often say that there is a first for everything: the first word, the first day of school, first car, first job, etc. I went on my first school trip when I was in the tenth grade, when I went with student council for a leadership retreat at Disneyland; my first experience of travelling with Mrs. Becker and all of my peers, which was an experience I will never forget. The second time I went on a school trip was when I went on a science retreat to Florida the year after; another unforgettable moment I have spent learning and soaking in all of the experiences.
Despite all the fun experiences I had, there too has to be a last for everything, in which our recent trip to Europe would be the last school trip I will go on, being in my senior year and all. Despite this realization of my coming of age, that did not stop me from enjoying this trip to the fullest, and to this day, one month after the day we returned, I still hold it as one of my cherished memories.
Coming from my daily life, everything seemed rather ordinary, especially after following the same routine everyday: wake up, go to school, do homework, go on the computer, go to bed, sleep, repeat. It was the same old, same old for me. To be honest, it was so monotonous that I did not expect much from any experiences I may have in this trip. Turns out, I was dead wrong...
As soon as the plane landed at Schiphol, it soon dawned upon me that I was far, far away from my hometown and therefore, the life I had always expected to live. My first impression of Amsterdam was a good one, having seen the colourful atmosphere, the streets bustling with bicyclists, even the subtle cultural differences I noted between there and Canada. I was astonished. Never before had I seen a sight this intriguing and spectacular. Needless to say, for me, this was culture shock to a new level.
Of course, I too had my apprehensions, especially due to the language difference. Not even knowing an iota of Dutch, there I stood in the streets of Amsterdam, trying to find my way around. In fact, I started getting concerned as our plane was landing when I saw a giant billboard written in, as you may probably guess, Dutch. In the end, I had to use English as the lingua franca most of the time. Though it didn’t take that much of the experience away, I still believe that I could have been more culturally enriched had I learned more Dutch à l’avance.
Même si je n’ai pas pu parler le néerlandais, je me suis amusé aux Pays-Bas. Even though I could not speak Dutch, I had fun in the Netherlands, but for me, I found our stay in Paris much more incroyable… incredible! For one thing, having previous knowledge with the French language, I was able to immerse myself more in Parisian culture than the culture of Amsterdam. While I could speak and ask questions to real French people in lieu of English, at the same time, I could still participate in the norms of the French, like sitting for hours enjoying my meal, people watching in the parks, eating all sorts of French cuisine, walking around the city in all times of day, etcetera.
Of course, being the tourist I obviously was, I could not resist containing my excitement when visiting each and every sight we would see in Paris (which would have actually been uncharacteristic of me considering my rather monotonous daily life). Before, I had not thought that I would enjoy strolling around the art museums, contemplating on the displays, but when I visited the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, I was stunned at everything around me. I had so much fun taking pictures and revelling in the view on the Arc de Triomphe and la Tour Eiffel. I even had fun dying because of the prices à la Galerie Lafayette! (I still cannot fathom how one can possibly buy a two-hundred-fifty-thousand euro ring!)
Of course, as the last school trip I’d ever go on ended, I faced the reality that not only do I have to return to school, but that I’ll never have the opportunity to do something like this in my high school life ever again. As we grow up, there are things we have to see come and go, and all the fun experiences have to end at some point. However, that does not mean that I didn’t have fun, as in fact, the opposite is a hundred times, a thousand times true! I believe that this is one of the most memorable trips I have ever been on to date!
This being my last year at Sullivan and all, I would just like to express my sincerest gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Becker, Ms. Kenkel, Mr. Dewinetz and any of the teachers that helped make these kinds of trips possible, for without them, I would not have had these little moments of adventure, of magic, and of enrichment intellectually and culturally. So with that said, I would like to say, “Thank you for taking me on your trips!”