Travel abroad: A once in a lifetime opportunity


photo by Emily Mears

Italy was a beautiful place, but I think France will always be my favorite.

Emily Mears, Editor

I have always wanted to go to Paris. I don’t know how I got the idea in my head, whether from ballet or seeing images of the Eiffel Tower, but I knew one day I would go, it was just a matter of when. So when I heard about the school trip, I made sure to sign up and prepare myself for what was to come. 


After an eight hour flight, we arrived in Paris. Paris was beyond beautiful. We really hit the ground running when we arrived and started on a walking tour before ever seeing the hotel. After seeing Notre Dame, we were given some free time so I went to a cafe for hot chocolate and a crepe. Madame Tyner had told me before we left that the hot chocolate there was to die for, and she was not wrong. On our second day in Paris we saw the Effilé Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, and the Place de la Concorde. For a final project one year in French I gave a presentation over Arc de Triomphe so I knew the majority of the fun facts our tour guide told us. That really boosted my ego, but struggling to eavesdrop on the locals’ conversations put me in my place. That night we went back to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. It was cold and wet out, but beyond beautiful. 


After taking a train to the French Riviera, the next day we had time to explore Monaco on our own and enjoy the scenic view. Everything was so warm and calm compared to Paris that I spent most of my time enjoying the sun. We then went to Nice to have a walking tour and take photos on the beach that had consisted of gray stones and the Mediterranean Sea. While in Nice, we took a tour of the Fragonard perfume factory that produces scents for companies such as Dior and Channel. I successfully checked “own fancy French perfume” (that I will probably never wear) off of my bucket list.


On the way to Florence, we stopped in Pisa to see the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Baptistery of St. John, and the Pisa Cathedral on top of free time to try gelato and do some shopping. There were street vendors everywhere and a McDonalds outside the wall. I didn’t get anything from McDonalds, but I did get gelato and it was rich. 


Florence brought a completely different experience. We had the privilege to see the birthplace of the renaissance. Everything was crowded and huge. We met up with a tour guide who gave a walking tour of the Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Basilica of Santa Croce, and the Gate of Paradise. During free time, students had the opportunity to explore Mercato Centrale. On top of this we got to visit a leather factory and watch a short demonstration. Perhaps the most memorable event was watching a local pedestrian get bumped by a car. With no surprise I can say that is a common occurrence there. 


While it was near impossible to pick a favorite, Rome had to be at the top of the list for me, or at least my favorite Italian city so far. On the first day we took a tour of the Colosseum and visited the Roman Forum. The ancient ruins we learned about in World History are still standing. This really goes to show how old the world is and how young our country truly is. These ruins date back to 80 AD when one of the older buildings in America, Independence Hall, wasn’t established until 1753. That is over a thousand year age gap. 


For our final day in Rome, we got to take our final walking tour to see the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, and my favorite from the day, the Pantheon. The history in Rome is so rich. It is nearly impossible to see everything, but even just walking the streets of Rome is an amazing experience. By far the best gelato I had also happened to be in Rome; however, I was not a fan of their pasta, it was too hard. 


This will not be my last trip to Europe, that much I am certain of. The world is far too old and large to just sit in one place your whole life. If you ever get the chance to go, either on your own or with the school, do yourself a favor and take it.