By: Hanya Irfan
The Holy Trinity Europe 2017 trip was, without a doubt, the greatest experience of my life. I’ve always traveled a lot; I was born in Chicago, and I moved to Kentucky when I was in elementary school, and eventually made it to Melbourne. Even then, we were always travelling to Pakistan, UAE, Europe, or even just in the States. Still, this was so different. It was my first time being on my own, without exactly being on my own.
In the spring break of my seventh grade I went to Europe: London, Rome, Pisa, Venice, and Paris. We went to all the places that tourists generally go. That was amazing because we got to see Big Ben and take pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower. However, on this trip, I got to go to the places families generally skip over in their summer traveling vacations. We got to see places with adventure; places where the history of the world was made. Having been to: Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Poland, as well as England, France, Italy, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Canada, I can truly now say I’ve been all over the world. Especially being back at home with my friends, I can appreciate that I’ve seen more than most people see in a lifetime. I’ve seen people of all colors and backgrounds, languages, and social classes with different values, different troubles and joys. It was definitely an adventure.
The travel aspect of it all was especially interesting. The teachers/chaperones on this trip gave us so much liberty to be on our own and explore the cities while still making sure we felt like a group with people who cared about us. I definitely feel so much more confident being on my own now. I’ve been through immigration so many times before but never had to fill out the customs form, print a boarding pass, or even carry my own passport. Not even being able to drive yet, I have not had to pay for my own meals and interact with people I didn’t know, definitely not people who spoke another language. In Pakistan, if I found myself in some obscure market, wonderful but risky, my mother would quickly converse with them so I would not have to speak. It was an amazing opportunity to be handed a map next to two of my closest friends, Andrea and Selena, and to figure out the charming cities of central Europe.
My favorite memory from this trip was definitely dancing on Charles Bridge. I was so excited because it was the bridge Tom Cruise, or Ethan Hunt I should say, was on in “Mission Impossible I.” My friends and I took a bunch of pictures pretending to jump off the bridge, just because I was so excited. There was a sweet band on the bridge with violins and acoustic guitars and vendors and people everywhere. The weather and water was beautiful and it was almost like a scene out of a movie; pun intended. Another amazing part was visiting Neuschwanstein Castle with our newly learned German skills. It was the most awe-inducing place I have ever been. The mountains and crystal clear water and hike to the castle was just so incredible. After lunch and the tour, a bunch of us went to the lake in front of the mountains to skip stones. We even saw a couple taking their wedding pictures. Jaden tried to teach me how to skip stones in the lake, but the closest I got was throwing the rock backwards and accidentally hitting him.
This trip was, without a doubt, the experience of a lifetime. I met so many amazing teachers and got to know them and my friends outside of the classroom. People react so different when they see the world and are thrown out of their routines, the time difference proved especially hard for Andrea and I. I’ve always wanted to be an independent person who explores everything worth exploring. This trip made me feel like I was capable of doing that. I learned so much having already come into this trip with knowledge from AP European History and am so thankful to have learned so much culture, history, and to have built amazing relationships with friends and teachers. I will never forget those ten days.