My first great adventure happened back in 2007. I was accepted by a group called People to People to travel to Europe -without my parents! After many months of meetings and preparing for the trip, the departure date had arrived. When my family and I got to the airport, we discovered that my leader had lost my passport! The group had to leave as scheduled to meet with the rest of the group from New Jersey, but I had to travel to Chicago with my mother to get an expedited passport. By the next afternoon I was loaded on a plane to go to London, England, then on to France to catch up with the group.
The flight over to London was long and boring. I was by myself the whole flight and was so relieved when we finally landed. The flight to France was much better, but when I landed, the airport attendant assigned to me didn’t speak English so it was all very confusing! We soon found my leader and found a taxi on my way to the hotel. At the hotel we quickly dropped off my luggage then hopped on the Metro to join the group. All I could think about, while on the Metro, was ‘this is like New York, with foreign people’. We finally met up with the group and got to see all the sights of Paris. From there the group traveled by charter bus to various towns, small and large, from France down to Italy. The sights were great, but my greatest memory is when we were in Italy. For the first time since arriving in Europe, we were released from our adult supervision and sent on a scavenger hunt to find all the historic landmarks in Rome. My group got lost once, but we found a policeman and although he didn’t understand English and we didn’t know Italian, we were still able to figure out what each other was trying to say. We came in third in the hunt but had a blast. With the time we had left in town we went shopping! The streets near the tourist areas were full of vendors but we decided to explore and went down the back roads and found some really nice shops.
From Italy we went to Sicily – a beautiful island that looked like paradise, kind of like Hawaii. The locals were all nice and we had a wonderful stay there. Three days later we set off to Malta, a small island off of Sicily. My first thought on seeing the island from the boat was that some artist took a hammer to rock and called it a city. We were split up into small groups and I stayed with a very nice host family and we enjoyed our last days in Europe with some wonderful swimming in the chilly Blue Lagoon. After 20 days of adventure we headed back to the U.S. and back to our families. The flight home was pretty uneventful, but it was a nice time to say good-bye to all the friends that I had made during this great adventure that almost did not happen.
The most important thing I learned from this adventure is that people in Europe are just like us in many ways. Language and customs vary, but underneath it all, people are people and that is what the group People to People is all about.
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