It has always been a goal of mine to spread my wings past Tucson, and experience more of the world, with aspects like different languages and other cultures. During the summer of 2016, I was able to do just that.
I participated in the Honors Trip, taught by Dr. Meg Lota Brown (who is an amazing and inspiring professor), that was taught at two main locations: London, England and Paris, France. I had never left North America before, and when I found out I was accepted to the program, I was beyond excited! Once in London (the first destination), I was deeply curious and ready to learn. One of the first things I noticed as soon as I stepped off the plane was that people in England walked on the opposite side of the walkway, and although I had known this before, it was different to experience. The taxi ride to the hotel was exhilarating, not only because I’m used to driving in the opposite lane, but the drive was risky, with the driver cutting off and switching lanes rapidly – I would soon learn that this is how things were paced in London.
The cultures I learned about and experienced throughout my trip were phenomenal – there were many cultural differences I was unaware of. In Paris, people kept to themselves more, something that I found to be very different from the American norm. In London, I navigated the Tube alone to see the BBC Proms 1 Performance where the repertoire included Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture (which is one of my all-time favorite compositions), which was one of the best experiences of my life. Also in London, we visited the oldest surgical room in Europe, which is located in an attic, and is very small and charming- it is amazing how far our technology has come!
The afternoon we arrived in Paris, we took a boat tour along the Seine River, and I took a photo of the glittering Eiffel Tower. I was able to practice using French (my minor) at restaurants, and in the city- I even had to ask directions from a passerby when we got lost. The topic that I presented on for the class was the Notre Dame Cathedral, which is absolutely extraordinary, and we all climbed the stone steps to the top! We visited multiple museums, including the National Portrait Museum (London), the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay (Paris). We also took trains outside the cities we were residing in, and visited Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s Birthplace), Cambridge, Bath and Stonehenge (a weekend-trip that was independent from the trip), Versailles, and Chartres.
I would strongly recommend the Honors Trip or any study abroad experience that you can participate in, because it changes your life in so many wonderful ways and opens your eyes to more than you can imagine. It was an experience of a lifetime, from eating a crepe outside the Notre Dame Cathedral to finding the cutest café in an alley in London!