As a Group Leader, my number one goal is to ensure that my students have the best experience possible when traveling with me abroad. I want to see them grow in a number of ways, ranging from building self-esteem and confidence, to strengthening language skills and broadening their worldly perspectives. My trips aren’t about me; they are about my students. Every single aspect of planning is based around what is best for them.
For some reason, however, not enough of my blog posts are actually about the students themselves. With a departure date less than two weeks away for my group of 35 traveling to Costa Rica, I’d like to give my readers an opportunity to hear from actual students. These are hard-working students that will soon join the fraternity of those that have experienced international student travel. Upon their return, they will share the same passion for traversing the globe along with a deeper understanding of our world. This month, I’ve asked some of my own students to write about the reasons why they’ve decided to step out of their comfort zones and embark upon an incredible journey with the St. Louis High School Spanish Club and EF Educational Tours.
Megan G. – Class of 2014
Traveling has always been something I’ve liked to do. I’ve been to different states and I’ve visited Canada and Mexico, but I feel like Costa Rica will definitely be a completely different experience. This is the first time I will have to interact with other people by speaking a different language. It’s probably one of the scariest things for me to think about. I’ve always been the type of person who just likes to stay in my comfort zone. I don’t take many risks, and I normally play it safe. I have a tendency to be a tad bit socially awkward, so I don’t jump at the chance to interact with new people. I usually stay quiet in class due to this. I know I’m capable of doing much more than I do now, but most of the time I am afraid to try. That’s why I want to travel with the Spanish Club. I’m hoping this trip will change that about me, and I’m willing to do what it takes to make that happen. No one else can make it happen but me, and I think this trip is the perfect opportunity to do it. I hope to come back not being afraid to take chances, and I hope I come home with no regrets.”
Chris A. – Class of 2014
I am traveling to Costa Rica with my high school over Spring Break. Needless to say I am very excited; however, my excitement is not because the nice weather or for the vacation of a lifetime. Granted, those are both benefits, but I am excited for the opportunity to learn things that I cannot learn in a textbook. The problem with textbooks is that the second that they are printed, they are outdated. The world changes quickly, and books simply can’t keep up. I will get the experience to learn from the people that are in the textbook. I will get a first person, hands on experience of learning. I am beyond thrilled to meet native Costa Ricans, and to learn their customs. I am so excited to talk with them and learn about their lives and see how different our cultures are. Not only will I remember this trip for the rest of my life, but also I will remember and apply what I learned while there, which is the ultimate purpose of learning. When it’s over and I have returned home, I hope I can take the best of their society and bring it back to America, to make my great nation even better.”
Brooke T. – Class of 2014
With travel come opportunities. These opportunities are unique to students that travel abroad. For me, this was the reason I decided to join the adventure of traveling to Costa Rica during our upcoming spring break. I wanted to get away from the small town of Saint Louis, Michigan and experience something different. The chance to discover myself in a new way really spoke to me. Living in a small town can limit one’s experiences. These experiences influence one’s perspective of self and the world. The opportunity to escape my daily routine and see myself differently was what reeled me in. I hope that the growth that I experience on tour can really help me to become better in every aspect of life.”
Sayde D. – Class of 2013
As a child, we all dream of going on an adventure, going out and searching for that feeling, that sensation, of being alive. As children, we are intuitive to our imagination. We dream, create, and find ourselves intrigued with every corner we turn. We explore without ever leaving our rooms and can only dream that someday that mountain we climb will be real and our imagination will become reality. There is a sense of adventure in all of us and there is only hope that someday we will be able to set it free. This trip, to me, is that opportunity. It’s my chance to go further than that bedroom door, to reach heights I could only ever dream of, to see sights that even my imagination couldn’t fantasize. I am ready to embrace all that life has to offer. This trip is my adventure. It’s a childhood dream calling my name. It’s a decision I will never regret and will be an experience I will never forget.
Kendall S. – Class of 2013
Though there were many different reasons I chose to travel, the main one was to experience a different culture. I love seeing the differences between the people from my town, and even my country, compared to others from around the world. Just being able to witness and experience exactly how other people live intrigues me. The types of food they eat, the music they enjoy, and even how they dress fascinate me. Being introduced to new cultures is the reason I love learning Spanish.I want to go on this trip because having the ability to speak another language is also part of experiencing a different culture. To think that everyone lives on the same enormous planet with so many unique and diverse cultures is something that has always amazed me.
Students chose to participate in educational travel for a variety of reasons. It’s important for us to ask them their motives for doing so in order to provide opportunities that will ensure that their investments in the experience yield the highest returns possible. The knowledge we gain from these discussions help us to differentiate the learning experiences for our travelers, thus making the experience all about the students.
I’d love to hear responses from other students. Why do you choose to travel?
Scott is a high school Spanish teacher and basketball coach. He began traveling with EF Tours in 2001 and has led 8 student tours to various Spanish-speaking countries. Scott strongly believes that student travel builds self-confidence and inspires students to develop and work towards long-term goals.