By: Jaclyn Kotora, Editorial Staff (‘23)

This summer Indian Hills will be running its 11-day Italy, Germany, Austria & Prague trip. This non-sponsored Europe school trip is normally run by a joint effort between Ms. Miller and Ms. Smalley through the tour company Education First (EF), which designs tours to help educators and students have a positive, fun experience and learn more about other cultures/perspectives and themselves. Ms. Miller and Ms. Smalley have been organizing these trips since 2013. 

Originally, this upcoming 2022 Europe Tour was supposed to be during the summer of 2021. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the trip could not be held, but it was postponed for this summer. Students and chaperones will be taking a flight at Newark airport on July 4th, and returning on July 14th. 

Ms. Miller shared that organizing and rescheduling this trip has been quite stressful, especially with the constantly changing rules and regulations. Originally 44 students signed up for the trip, but about 12 kids dropped out after it was postponed. Miller expressed, “It was kinda a challenge because we needed to make sure that we still had a private bus and we needed to make sure that we weren’t merged with some other group. Plus, all of the regulations keep changing […] we were supposed to test, but then we weren’t supposed to test, and now we are supposed to test—it is a lot to keep up with.” If a student were to test positive in Europe, their parents will have to come and stay with them, but there are chaperones in place who will stay back with the individual until a parent/guardian comes. 

Despite the complications, IH is glad to have the opportunity to travel and experience a wide range of history, art, and scenery. Students visit Rome, Florence, Munich, and Prague, featuring marvelous sightseeing and chances to learn, explore, chill, and have fun with peers. Some of the tour includes sightseeing of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza Della Signoria, Gates of Paradise, Olympic Stadium, WWII Nazi concentration camp Dachau (now a memorial museum), Neuschwanstein Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, and more. 

These places offer both education and fun. Ms. Miller states, “In each city, we are going to have one guide who will give us really detailed info about everyone, the historical sites we will be seeing, and kinda give us insider stuff…it is really just a nice experience that we have this historical [aspect], but you also have downtime too. So during lunch, you may have 2 hours where you and your friends can walk 3 blocks over and go shopping, or go eat at a restaurant that you noticed, or try local cuisine. The combination between downtime and all the educational stuff is really important because you should have fun—it is also a vacation—but it is really cool to be able to go to all these historical places too.”

Ms. Miller also describes one of her favorite memories from chaperoning during a Spain and Portugal trip in 2017: “We had a lot of downtimes, and when we rounded up to go on the bus to go back to the hotel for the night […] the chaperones were running late since our dinner had run late, and so we were running to meet them […] as we walked up they were all clapping because they were making fun of us for being late […] to walk into a group of 40-50 students who r all cheering and clapping at you, that was probably one of the best memories because it was so funny— they were so sarcastic and I loved it.”

No doubt should these trips give experiences that students will remember for a lifetime. 

 Ms. Miller expresses how “Seeing you guys grow, and seeing you guys see all of these amazing things that most, if not all, of you have not seen before… it is so nice to see a student see the Eiffel Tower for the first time.. or the Alps, or Lake Como […] It is life-changing, and it is really nice to be a part of that and give students this well-rounded experience, not just school.”

For more information about upcoming trips, see Ms. Miller or Ms. Smalley.