Students, staff, and alumni reflect on the invaluable TASIS tradition of Academic Travel
Posted 03/12/2016 10:00AM

9th Grade Greece

Ever since M. Crist Fleming loaded all the students from her fledgling School into one Volkswagen bus and hauled them to Barcelona in 1956, travel has been an irreplaceable part of the TASIS experience. “Curriculum Field Trips,” which tended to be on the shorter side and could take place at any part of the year, eventually gave way to the more formalized “In-Program Travel” in 1974.

With a longer period set aside for travel, students and faculty organizers departed on the evening of November 5, 1974, for destinations including Paris, Vienna, Salzburg-Innsbruck, Florence-Siena, and Rome. The November 1974 TASIS Newsletter recounts:

With a student-faculty ratio of ten to one, small groups were able to pursue special interests such as plays, concerts, art collections, and good restaurants. They were better able to use public transportation, allowing more relaxed and thorough exploring, giving additional language and cultural exposure not feasible on shorter trips.

With that a new TASIS tradition was born, and although the name (it has been known as “Academic Travel” since 2009) and some of the destinations have changed, the aim of the program—to enhance course content by bringing students face-to-face with the rich cultural heritage of Europe and the spectacular natural beauty of the Alps—remains the same.

In what is now the 43rd year of In-Program/Academic Travel at TASIS, High School and Middle School students—who already went on 23 separate trips to 17 different locations back in October—enjoyed another round of excursions during the third week of February. (See full list below.)

Student and Staff Reflections

We asked students and staff to identify the most memorable part of their most recent Academic Travel trips. Here are some of their responses.

I really loved visiting Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon! The view was amazing and the history about the temple was very interesting! I think that the most memorable part of this trip was walking up to the hill and seeing the view; it was so gorgeous! I remember taking many, many pictures even though the storage on my phone was almost full:) I really enjoyed this trip and had a lot of fun!

Virginia Italia ’19
Ancient & Medieval History: Athens, Greece

The most memorable part of my trip was the mystical Oracle of Delphi and beautiful Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. They both made a huge impression on me because of their formidability and mysterious aura.

Aurelia Dochnal ’19
Ancient & Medieval History: Athens, Greece

Visiting TASIS England, eating the amazing food in London, having free time to explore and shop, and going to museums.

Madeline B. ’19
TASIS England Exchange and Theater/History: London, England

  Academic Travel Trips - Spring 2016
  Athens, Greece
Ancient & Medieval History
  Roman France
EAL Ancient & Medieval History
  London, England
TASIS England Exchange and Theater/History
  Lyon, France
French Homestay
  Salamanca, Spain
Spanish Homestay
  Trapani, Italy
Italian Homestay
  Krakow, Poland
IB/AP European History I/Modern European History
  Berlin, Germany
US History
  Granada, Spain
Art & Design
  Vienna, Austria
AP Art History
  Crete, Greece
Theory of Knowledge II
  Dublin, Ireland
English Literature
  Bavaria, Germany
Outward Bound (all 10th graders)
  Agadir, Morocco
Global Service Program: Mission Morocco
  Muhuru Bay, Kenya
Global Service Program: WISER
  Berhampur, India
Global Service Program: Gram Vikas
  Barcelona, Spain
8th grade trip
  Sorrento and Amalfi Coast, Italy
7th grade trip
  Zurich, Switzerland
6th grade trip (half the class)
  Mantova, Italy
6th grade trip (the other half)

Staying with a Spanish family and fully taking in the Spanish culture.

Francesca Mereghetti ’16
Spanish Homestay: Salamanca, Spain

Most definitely the food and also the ice cold breeze that paralyzed us every morning.

Diego Blank ’16
Spanish Homestay: Salamanca, Spain

Visiting the concentration camps in Auschwitz and Majdanek.

Celine Cialdini ’17
IB/AP European History I/Modern European History: Krakow, Poland

Seeing an Auschwitz survivor walking around at Auschwitz while we were taking our tour.

Brody Fredericksen, High School History Teacher
IB/AP European History I/Modern European History: Krakow, Poland

Visiting Alhambra and doing the printing workshop.

Sofiana Safi ’16
Art & Design: Granada, Spain

Transforming experiences and artworks into prints. The workshop made us all slow down and work at a different pace.

Frank Long
Art & Design: Granada, Spain

Visiting the Spy Museum Berlin.

Stark Zheng ’17
US History: Berlin, Germany

Seeing Checkpoint Charlie.

Mariya ’16
US History: Berlin, Germany

Visiting the Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge.

Hugo Rourke ’17
UK University Visits: London, England

Visiting Universities in London, especially King’s and the rest I am interested in.

Margherita ’17
UK University Visits: London, England

The spontaneous city tour through Athens.

Sarah Penetsdorfer ’16
Theory of Knowledge II: Crete, Greece

Walking through Knossos.

Carmen Alban ’16
Theory of Knowledge II: Crete, Greece


Austrian food, Gustav Klimt, and the Sisi museum.

Svetlana ’16
AP Art History: Vienna, Austria

Visiting works in the Kunsthistorisches Museum that [Art History Teacher] Mark Aeschliman had taught and explained to the students.

Anna Kavalauskas. High School English Teacher
AP Art History: Vienna, Austria

The traditional Irish dancing show at the hotel.

Jeremy Kopp ’16
English Literature: Dublin, Ireland

Sit-down dinners with the students. The conversation was always lively, and I did a good deal of laughing, listening, and learning.

Todd Matthew, High School English Teacher
English Literature: Dublin, Ireland

On the last night's dinner, my group mixed with another and we laughed all night.

Enrique Gazaneo ’20
8th grade trip: Barcelona, Spain

Walking in the city and the panorama view.

Maria ’20
8th grade trip: Barcelona, Spain

The weather and being with the whole class. And the walks that we took.

Alexandra Braun ’21
7th grade trip: Sorrento and Amalfi coast, Italy

My roommates, Pompeii, and Mt. Vesuvius.

Penelope ’21
7th grade trip: Sorrento and Amalfi coast, Italy

I think the hotel and the Swiss Science Center Technorama.

Angelica ’22
6th grade trip: Zurich, Switzerland



Alumni Memories

What was the most meaningful Academic Travel experience you had at TASIS, and what made it so memorable?

It would be impossible to choose one. Paris? Amsterdam? Provence? There is not a day in the last 40 years that the people, places, tastes, and challenges of those travel experiences did not influence my life. I still remember climbing ancient Roman steps. I still remember the Anne Frank house and the Van Gogh museum...And Paris? Are you kidding? The beautiful buildings, art, museums, the window displays, and La Tour Eiffel! Most of all, these memories involve being with friends and peers my own age. We discovered these places together. We laughed, we planned, we marveled, and we coped. It's very empowering. It makes you strong. There is a sense of self-confidence that gives you inspiration to be more. It was fantastic.

Martha Freund Bradshaw ’75

Every single one was unique and meaningful. It's not possible for me to pick one because they differed so much. Different city, different group, different age, different program. Always amazing!

Alexander Hagemann ’07

My trip to Trapani, Sicily, with Mr. D'Azzo and Ms. Lucchini was the most memorable on so many levels! I am glad we had an opportunity to go there. The trip helped us improve our Italian before the IB exams some of us had upcoming in May, spend more time with each other, and make friends with the locals, who made our experience in Sicily even more special! Please, never remove it from the AT list :)

Liudmila (Lucy) Andreeva ’15

Volcano climbing around Sicily. It was a small group led by amazing teachers. We climbed a different volcano on different islands each day. We rented a small home to stay in and made all our meals together. I still remember so many of the details of that trip.

Asmat Noori ’92

It was when our junior class boarded two big buses and went to Siena, Italy. We got to walk around the small village, go to museums, eat great food, and end the evening by listening to music and dancing the night away.

Gretchen Schaefer ’82

Southern Italy—the group of students was fantastic.

Graham Bonnet ’80

Florence Trip, 1976

My most memorable trip was a bicycle trip through Northern Italy. It was not my first choice (in fact it was my third!), but I enjoyed it more than all my other trips. I was not with my usual group of friends and thus was more solitary, which turned out to be a good thing for me. It was hard work going up and down the hills of Umbria, but the scenery was sublime. We got to stay in a convent one night, which I remember to this day. The other accommodation was equally magical. We would stop in little towns and buy cheese, bread, and prosciutto for lunch and eat in little pensions for dinner. Oh my, what a lovely trip it was!

Daniel Aire ’77

I actually can't remember the best Academic Travel because there were so many really good ones—for example, the photography trip to Venice and the Art History trip to Rome. These ones were my favorites because I love art and had an amazing group with really great teachers.

Giacomo Braglia ’14

Venice during Carnevale. The weather was such that fog engulfed the city. You would encounter at night walking through the narrow streets people wearing the traditional Venetian costumes with masks. The experience of confronting a costumed individual walking through the misty shadows created a wonderful sense of mystery and intrigue. The academic experience of the Socratic method in seminars led by Messrs. Robert Wilson, Michael Aeschliman, and Mark Aeschliman was undoubtedly the highlight. The opportunity to read, study, and experience the diverse subjects of the program in such an intense, supportive program has left an indelible impact on my life.

Scott Thomas PG ’92

Venice—it was just such a different venue. I remember all of us on the gondolas going through the canals (along with one of our very cute teachers, who was being serenaded by the gondolier...!).

Linda Jaekel Avery ’75

Traveling to Venice and the surrounding areas was quite beautiful. I also think having four people on crutches at the time did make it very memorable. It was fun and entertaining.

Caroline Gamboa PG ’88

I will never forget arriving in Venice and taking the vaporetto at night down the Grand Canal. It was a very special trip.

Elliot Doyle ’01

Venice with Kay Hamblin. We went to the Biennale.

James ’07

Venice Trip, 1979

Florence, Italy. It was a really fun and family-like feeling for all of us. The city was beautiful too. We had great food and there are so many unforgettable memories.

Fariza Ahmadova ’09

Spring trip to Italy. We walked everywhere in Rome and Florence, and I still remember all the wonderful architecture we saw. I have very fond memories of ordering pizza by weight and ordering cappuccinos before they were fashionable in the US. It was a trip I'll never forget.

Kathie Gorman Sharp ’82

Rome—Mr. Byers made it an amazing trip. I fell in love with the city.

Claudia Gago ’15

Rome—it was my first trip to Italy and I absolutely loved it!

Anastasia ’00

Rome with John Kundstadter and Doc Hardy, studying the Italian Communist Party.

Michael Moore PG ’68

Without a doubt the regular trips to La Scala were my most memorable adventures. There was a list on the bulletin board each week for evening trips to various events, often at La Scala. I saw all the great operas...nearly every Puccini, Verdi, the animals on stage for the Grand March from Aida, Nureyev and Fonteyn dancing Swan Lake. I spent two years going to La Scala for nearly every event offered to us. Sometimes I would be the only student on the bus, but it did not matter to me. Somehow I had figured out that this was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Virginia Brooks ’67

My trip to Normandy (US History) in 12th grade was the most memorable Academic Travel I went to. I liked all the places we visited, but the most meaningful activities were visiting Omaha beach and watching the movies showing clips from the battle of Normandy. I liked them particularly because visiting the sites and watching such immediate testimonies of what happened made a strong impact on the perceptions of the events. Overall, on that trip I learned a lot and had fun with my friends at the same time, despite the sadness of the places we visited. The trip blended very well fun parts (visiting Paris) with the stronger ones (activities related to the battle of Normandy).

Monica Landoni ’15

South of France. Les Beaux-de-Provence and Avignon. To see the Roman Aqueduct, and try to imagine how it was built before heavy equipment, was amazing to a 16-year-old.

Phillip Akers, student in 1975-76

It was an Art History-based trip in 1969 with Herb Stothart to Provence and Catalonia. He drove us in one of the blue VW buses. We saw where the Fauves painted at Collioure,  marveled at the Pont du Gard, walked in van Gogh's footsteps at St.Remy, and so much more. Mr. Stothart was a very serious and passionate teacher who nurtured my life-long interest in Art History. Those days at TASIS belong to a charmed era.

Mary Rose Cafiero ’69

A trip to St. Paul de Vence with my two best friends. That we were trusted to go on our own, and make our own arrangements and our own mistakes was rather wonderful. We ended up in a tiny room under the eaves of a small hotel, with barely room to turn around. But we had so much fun. And I think that being given the freedom and trust to be grown up was a large part of it.

Melanie Brooks Campbell ’71

Forty-five years ago, in the spring of 1971, I took my 11th grade US History class to Munich and the Dachau concentration camp. This curious energetic group of almost 70 including John Pritzlaff, Crandall Clark, Kerry Tilson, Becky Boynton, Steve Hagadorn, Terry Tomlin, Liz Gillespie, and many other faces I still see but whose names I can't recall, who traveled by rail through the majestic Alps to Munchen with its historic architecture, Alte Pinakothek, Marenplatz, music halls, Glockenspeil, street cars, and so much more—many of the heights of German culture. Then we went to Dachau, which didn't need a tour guide or teacher, lecture notes, exams, or grades. It was the visceral shock of traveling a few kilometers from the heights of human achievement into Dante's Inferno. In that instant, we knew what man was capable of, and wretchedness painted the face of mercy on us all. This was the kind of teaching moment Mrs. Fleming crusaded for: compassion and understanding that must humanize man's strive for excellence.

Rich Mitchell, former History Teacher

Our trip to Munich in October left an indelible image in my mind. We had arrived at Neuschwanstein Castle, Ludwig II's Bavarian retreat. Hiking through the woods I had no idea what to expect when suddenly this fairy tale castle presented itself in all its magical glory. It was truly a vision that seemed like a dream or a movie scene. It was a stunning palace sitting on the highest hill surrounded by forests. The experience was breath-taking, grand, and surreal.

Yvette Vartanian Baroian ’73

All Academic Travels have the potential to be the most meaningful. In my case—Dublin. It was one of my senior-year trips. I probably valued it (still do) the most because I was aware that TASIS life, as I knew it, was coming to an end. The same concept applied for the way in which I engaged in my classes. British Literature was very naturally engaging for me, so it made the entire trip effective in terms of gaining relevant knowledge and great experiences!

Orianna Sibada ’14

I participated in four trips in my two years and they were all memorable. However, because I learned to read from British literature and the Knights of the Round Table, Sherlock Holmes, and Robin Hood were among my greatest heroes, I would have to say getting to visit England and Wales was a dream come true.

Karen Jones ’83

The United Kingdom University trip. I had the chance to spend time with my closest friends during a great trip regarding future university opportunities. Also, I had the possibility to get informed about university courses in various prestigious universities all around the United Kingdom.

Gabriele Braglia ’13

The UK University visit in 11th grade. I had the opportunity to visit most of the universities we were interested in going to in Scotland and England. We visited a range of different places, from a metropolitan city like London to Aberdeen.

Ginevra Giacomini ’13

Russia Trip, 1967

Our trip behind the Iron Curtain in the spring of 1968. Russia, Hungary, East Berlin. Eye-opening and scary because of the level of Russia's inspection of our clothes in our suitcases. Our school travel leaders were very good as they supervised our travels and kept us safe.

Barbara Cavin PG ’68

Traveling behind the Iron Curtain and visiting with people that lived there was amazing. Their lives and the government controls were so different from ours. The history and scenery was unbelievable. Everything from the food to their entertainment was very different. To this day, the Russia spring break trip was one of the most memorable trips of my life!

1976 graduate

Spring travel to Russia and all the countries behind the Iron Curtain. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Mary Blumberg Dean ’66

During spring break in 1966, about 30 of our class traveled to Eastern Europe and Russia, traveling by train the entire way except for the portion between Kiev and Moscow. It was at the height of the Cold War, and Communism was the mandatory ideology. We met students selected by our Russian guides as we traveled, and they genuinely believed the party line. The Beatles "Back in the USSR" was a hit at that time and was played over and over again on the few occasions we heard music. But I met people not selected to meet us when I traded dollars for rubles on the Black Market. And I saw people kneeling in the street outside a church in Lithuania on a Sunday morning since the church was the only one in Vilnius allowed to hold services. The black market traders, the people kneeling in prayer in the streets, and the control the government exercised over our group made a huge impression on me.

Kneeland Taylor ’66

The March 1973 trip to the Soviet Union—Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg). It was the sharp contrast of liberal European values with that of Soviet Russia—the stark contrast was palpable and frightening—yet for the young spirit a challenge and an enormous learning experience. And not without risk. Forever grateful to TASIS for the chance to see history—up close and personal.

Diane Atwood ’73

Russia—Moscow and St. Petersburg—in 1995. When I close my eyes and think back, aside from remembering the more traditional "touristic" moments (museums, city exploration, palace, etc.), it was the little things that remain impressed in my mind's eye: being hosted by a Russian family and experiencing family life, preparing meals, taking the dog for a walk in a semi-lit park at midnight (!), the Moscow underground and it's steep stairs that seem to go down forever, the elegance and artwork of the old metro line stations, taking the overnight train to St. Petersburg and being lulled to sleep by the eerie sideways rocking of the wagon-lit carriage, and more...

Francesca Nicotra ’96

Going to Moscow (where I stayed with a Russian family) and then to St Petersburg.

Ma Fernanda Rex ’95

My PG year (1966-1967) had two main school travel excursions—en route to the school in September and in the spring (a pre-EU era tour). Both were geared to learning about the country/countries visited—based on culture and their place in Europe.

Pamela Taylor PG ’67

The trip to Yugoslavia my senior year. What made it memorable was meeting local students there and getting to know them. Also getting to see our chaperones (Nurse Molyneux and Monsieur DuFour) outside the confines of the school and getting to know them not as "teachers" but as people.

Steven Heisler ’71

The Academic Travel I took to Istanbul. It was a beautiful country, and we were able to experience the wonderful culture and historical sites there. I had many friends with me on this trip, and we all enjoyed our time together and the amazing city of Istanbul.

Jacob Hibbard ’10

Traveling to Egypt in 1965. Climbing the Great Pyramid in a race with other students, riding Arabian horses into the desert and getting lost in a sandstorm, going into King Tut’s tomb, visiting Luxor while the dam was being built—all once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Leslie Hughes Pierpont ’67

Morocco because it was a beautiful trip with multiple stops in a very different culture.

Nicolas Martino ’04

My junior year, we traveled to the country of Jordan. I'll never forget camping in the desert with a Bedouin community. I don't think I had ever felt that far removed from my element, and my world grew a lot bigger in that short period of time.

A. Jordan Lea ’02

Our sea kayaking In-Pro on Sardinia in 2000 or 2001 with 12 students (11 girls and an Eagle Scout). We took an overnight ferry to Olbia and spent the next day and night in Cala Gonone provisioning. Early on third morning we packed the kayaks and paddled to Cala Luna, reputed to be the most beautiful beach in the Mediterranean basin. We set up camp in sea caves and took hikes and kayak trips for five days. It was a challenging adventure for all of us. First time in a kayak for most students and relying on our own initiative, ingenuity, and cooperation.

Chris Frost, former TASIS headmaster, and wife Anne Frost

I think the VW Bus tour to Valle Verzasca was my most memorable trip. We sang songs in the bus and when we reached our destination, I was in awe of the cliffs and the the seemingly shallow water below. When one guy decided to jump in, my life-long swimming skills kicked in and I was fully prepared to see him splayed out on the rocks below. I had never, ever seen water so clear that you could watch the little sea creatures like they were in the palm of your hand. I was a competitive swimmer my whole life and I couldn't wait to get into this clear, clean water. I felt like it was the Fountain Of Youth.

Suzi Smith Lynch ’62

Backcountry skiing in Switzerland. There were many other trips that were highly memorable, but to be outdoors learning a new skill in the grandeur of the Swiss Alps was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The students were a struggle at times, but I believe that it was a great experience for them as well and that they appreciated it more than one would have thought when we shook them out of bed early in the mornings!

Christopher Chelsey, staff member from 2002-2005

2016 Spring Academic Travel Photo Galleries
High School trips

Middle School trips
Outward Bound (10th grade only)

Read More about Academic Travel
Reflections about this year's Outward Bound and Global Service Program trips can be found in these separate articles:

Outward Bound an integral part of a TASIS education
Global Service Program students make a difference in Kenya, Morocco, and India

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