By Jane Wilson ’22
My first overnight Academic Travel trip was to Kandersteg when I was in fifth grade. Five years on, and I've gone on a further ten Academic Travel trips with TASIS, all to places I had never been before. Below I discuss some of my favorite moments from some of my most memorable trips through the years. All of my trips have been unique in their own right, and I've taken different learning experiences and memories away from each of them.
Kandersteg: May 2015
To be honest, I can't remember much about this trip other than a group of us crying because it was our first time away from home. The two nights I spent there felt more like a week, and I really wasn't sure whether I'd even make it to the Sunday. That said, I did have some crying-free spells during which I felt very mature. It was also during this trip that I realized who my friends were. I felt really lucky to have friends who put up with me and my crying for the majority of two days.
Winter Adventure: January 2016
By the time Middle School Winter Adventure came around in sixth grade, I felt that I had gotten over the hurdle of staying away from home. I was no longer a member of the crying-brigade and actually had a great time. I was in the beginners’ ski group with a lot of my friends, and I remember my instructor being really nice. I thought that our evening activities were so fun: one night we went ice skating and the other we went on a horse-and-carriage ride through the woods.
It was a lot to ask a group of eleven-year-old girls to be quiet after lights out because games of truth or dare took precedence over everything. I'll always remember the thrill of pretending to be asleep when a teacher came into the room after lights out to tell us to be quiet.
Edinburgh: October 2017
This may be my favorite Academic Travel trip of all time. For starters, at the time there was something so exciting about exploring the duty-free shops in Malpensa with my friends. It was also really nice for me, as an Irish person, to go somewhere that has a similar culture to my own. The first night we had fish and chips, and it was a nice change to be given butter with bread instead of oil. The next morning, I was greeted by the familiar smell of an Irish/English breakfast.
Something else I loved about this trip was the fact that we were there during Halloween. Our teachers took us to the Edinburgh Dungeons on Halloween day, and then that night we went to a Cèilidh (traditional Irish/Scottish dance gathering). That was a really special experience for me because I was able to share a part of my culture with my friends. The only bad part of this trip was the blisters I got on my feet from all the dancing.
Climbing over the rail
Outward Bound: October 2018
I was nervous to go on Outward Bound because of all the stories I had heard about it, like how there were no toilets and the food is disgusting. Even after hearing all of those stories, I decided to keep my mind open and come up with my own opinion. While the accommodation wasn't luxurious and the food wasn't fantastic, I found that you have to accept those things as part of the experience as a whole. When you realize that and focus on enjoying yourself instead, you'll have a great time—but I can only speak for myself.
Some activities were physically taxing while others tested your leadership skills or your friendships. On this trip, I think you learn what kind of person you are and how far you can push yourself. My favorite part of the trip was cooking pancakes with my friends for our group, and the most memorable part was when I was lowered from a very high bridge by my classmates. It was an exercise of trust that made me realize how strong I can be.
Paradise: the view after climbing the steps to San Miniato
Florence: October 2019
My trip with my Honors World Literature class this October was centered around Dante's Inferno, which we were reading in class at the time. This trip reinforced and added to what we had already read back in Lugano. All of our activities, like visiting La Casa di Dante and Santa Croce, tied into what we were reading. We also had workshops in coffee shops around Florence, which gave us the opportunity to sit down with our teacher, Dr. Love, and ask questions about the project we were working on. On our last day, we had a treasure hunt around the city based on clues related to the places we had visited, which was a lovely way to wrap up a wonderful week.