Travel tips for successful trips

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There are many ways to travel abroad. While there are always traditional family vacations, for those looking for a completely different and potentially life-changing experience, read on.

“Over the summer of 2018, the chorus department went to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. We sang in massive churches built centuries ago and saw the most beautiful sites I’ve seen in my life,” Emilie Dudgeon, junior, said.

One way to travel abroad is to go on a short-term school trip. These usually last one or two weeks and involve visiting a variety of sites instead of focusing on just one location. To learn more about a school trip abroad, talk to a foreign language teacher to find out when the next trip will be offered. Last summer,  yearbook teacher Opal Mason took a group of Etowah students to Europe through the program EF Tours where they visited several historic places.

“My favorite memory was just being with my friends and getting to see the Eiffel Tower light up at night,” Brittany Miller, junior, said.

Another way to travel abroad is to go on a mission trip. Mission trips are usually held through a church. Many students consider them transformative events because in these trips, students go to an impoverished town to help locals by fixing houses, praying with families, and playing with kids. To go on a mission trip, find a local church and ask what kind of mission trips it sponsors.

“These families that we worked with were so happy no matter their circumstances. Common things here in the U.S., like a latrine, were considered precious commodities there, and a new soccer ball was one of the coolest things for these kids to receive. These people showed me that the life I live is lucky and that we must all enjoy what we have no matter how little or how much, and that the newest iPhone or the most expensive car don’t matter as much as a family,” Eric Brown, junior, said about his mission trip to Honduras.

One way to truly get immersed in a new culture and language is to go on a long-term study abroad trip. These can last several months or a whole year. Students who go on these trips typically stay with a host family and attend a local school. They often go on excursions to see other places in their host country. In order to go on a trip like this, students should check with their guidance counselor about options and which credits will transfer, to ensure they do are still on track to graduate when they return to Etowah. The next step is to look for a program. One program for high school study abroad trips is CIEE, Council on International Educational Exchange.

Another option is the gap year. Gap years can be like a study abroad trip or they can be a year-long mission trip. One local gap year program is called Global Year.  Gap year usually takes place between high school and college.

There are many ways to travel abroad. For those interested in taking one, the next article will explore ways to prepare for that trip abroad.