Your Next Stop: Europe
By Sam, age 18, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
When I was in my junior year of high school, I applied to become part of the People to People program. People to People is an organization that allows students to travel the world as "student ambassadors" and experience the cultures of other countries. Each year the program organizes several trips to specific foreign countries in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. In fact, I learned about People to People through my younger cousin, who a year earlier had traveled to Australia through the People to People program. People to People also offers programs to athletes who would like to become "sports ambassadors" by playing soccer, baseball, tennis, or volleyball with other students from around the world.
While the actual trips are only two or three weeks long, the program itself was actually almost a year long. In fact, I had to apply in September for a trip I wanted to take in July. The program I applied for was a three-week student ambassador trip to Greece, Italy, and France.
The application process was very simple. I merely had to answer the questions on an application form, and get three letters of recommendations from current or previous teachers. Once I sent in the completed information, I was then required to attend an informal interview process. During the interview, myself and several other applying students were put together in a group with two of the teachers who would be traveling with the People to People student ambassadors. The questions were very broad and creative, so they gave me a chance to show my personality in my answers. After the interview, I had to wait a few weeks to receive a letter that stated whether or not I was accepted into the program.
When I received my acceptance letter, I was so excited that I spent the entire afternoon jumping around the house. I wanted to skip over the next several months just so I could leave for Europe right away.
The People to People program organizes every trip by state, so the group of students I traveled with were all from surrounding counties in Massachusetts. Before we left in July, once a month all the students had to meet up to go over the trip's itinerary, what we should and should not pack, and the rules of conduct while abroad. Unfortunately, we also had to partake in some of those corny team building exercises, but it was a great chance to get to know the other people I would be traveling with.
My trip to Europe was amazing. I loved every second of it. Standing at the Acropolis of Athens, walking through the streets of Pompeii, seeing the canals of Venice, beautiful Naples, magnificent Rome, and, of course, Paris! My jaw fell to the ground when I stood under the Eiffel Tower. And I fell in love with everything in the Louvre. The sights were absolutely breathtaking, the activities the program had planned were cheesy but fun, and the friends I made were fantastic. We're still friends to this day.
My experience in visiting other countries with the People to People program has sparked my adventure to travel more. Now, as I'm entering my sophomore year in college, I plan to apply to study abroad in Japan for my junior year. I encourage everyone to take a chance and visit somewhere new. You will not be disappointed by what you see.
For more information, check out the People to People website: PeopleToPeople.com
What did you think about this article? Tell us!
Sweet Designs Staff Intern