Professional learning

5 Amusing (but Important) Unexpected Life Lessons Students Learn from Traveling

They have their passport: check. They have everything on your packing list: check. They even learned a few phrases in the native language: check.

It looks like you’re officially ready to lead your students on a new adventure. You’ve played out countless scenarios of what this experience will be like for your students. You see them admiring Elizabeth Tower in London, ordering crepes in perfect French, and navigating the streets of New York City better than Magellan himself. They may accidentally order French fries when they really wanted potato chips, but so what? They’re diving into a new place and culture. They should have fun with it! Sometimes the unexpected and awkward parts of travel have the greatest impact.

Here are five amusing, but important life lessons learned through student travel:

Be Sensible and Organized
The students heard you say it. They heard their parents say it. “Pack light and keep everything organized! We’re only going to be in Boston for a week.” So of course, they only brought the necessities, right?


At least that’s what you thought, but then the airport check-in staff grabbed their luggage.


Enjoy the Moment
You have arrived in Peru and you’re surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and incredible views. You all want to remember this forever, so the students bust out the camera and pose.


You have to explain that sometimes it’s better to just enjoy the moment

Obama/ Via

Challenge Yourself
Whether it’s Washington, D.C. or Berlin, it’s possible that your phone may have a poor Wi-Fi connection. What does that mean for you and your students? It means you won’t have access to Google Maps when you’re out, enjoying your free time. It means that a generation raised on smart phone technology will have to use a real map. Yes, a “real” map. This is a small, but important learning moment. On the outside they’re all:


But you remind them that they can do this! You know that on the inside they’re thinking:


Leave Your Comfort Zone
You’ve been teaching them Spanish travel words and phrases all year long and you’ve encouraged them to try using their skills in Spain. You know this is one of the best ways to learn a language. So they order their meal without using any English. They pushed themselves, and that’s what counts! It’s important that they develop that confidence. And even though they think they nailed it…

Kelly Clarkson/Via

You heard the same thing the waitress did, so you immediately jump in and help them out when you see her expression.


Know What’s Important
Your students may have watched The Lizzie McGuire Movie one too many times and unrealistically, they think they’re going to find romance on their trip. A real life Paolo is not going to magically appear out of thin air.


If Lizzie McGuire taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t get caught up in a fairy tale (unless you’re at Neuschwanstein Castle). Instead, encourage them to focus on having fun with their friends and as a group, welcome everything the experience has to offer!


It’s important to remember why we travel in the first place: to explore new places and learn new things! Talk with an EF Tour Consultant and learn more about leading your own global adventure!

Lila at EF Educational Tours

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