Students travel overseas, witnessing fantasy as reality

Marlee Baker, Editor-In-Chief

Summers are meant for impromptu trips, authentic experiences and unadulterated time dedicated to adventures.  Some people take a road trip to San Francisco, others hike into the mountains and some fly across the Atlantic Ocean into completely new countries.

For twelve days, junior Sydney Feinstein traveled with twenty-five students and four Tracy High history teachers through a company called Explorica.  Together they hiked across five European countries, visiting famous landmarks, observing historical artifacts and seeing art museums within cities like London, Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Munich.

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Photographer: Sydney Feinstein

At first the awkwardness of being in a foreign country was palpable for those within the group.  Feinstein commented on the self-consciousness she felt toward her voice, for her American accent seemed to draw attention to the fact they were tourists, who often are negatively labeled by Europeans.  However, Feinstein believed that experiencing Europe as a tourist was beneficial, for they were able to visit many important scenes within a short amount of time.

“Any sort of trip like this is definitely educational,” Feinstein said.  “We did go with four history teachers, so obviously they did play into the historical aspect . . . You get to see all those really fun things that you hear about and only dream of going to.”  The group toured several museums, such as the Albertina, and was also able to see historical landmarks like the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, an ancient bath house in Hungary and Schronbrunn Palace.

Despite beholding these historical monuments, Feinstein says what she will remember most fondly is the ability to have “experienced new countries and new continents with new people . . . I came back with some of the best friendships I’ve ever had.”

Junior Salvatore Giacinto Incorvaia traveled to Europe as well; however, his visit lasted a bit longer than twelve days.  Instead, Incorvaia stayed in Italy for about a month, visiting family and old friends.  Having once been a citizen of Italy from 2004 to 2012, Incorvaia described seeing Italy after all these years as “nostalgic.”

While in Europe, Incorvaia and his family visited Greece and Turkey alongside Italy.  Naples, Rome, Pisa and Genova (his childhood city and birthplace to Cristopher Columbus). These were a few of the great Italian cities he was able to explore the beautifully compacted and colorful streets of.

Though this trip was made with social intentions rather than educational, Incorvaia was still given the opportunity to experience and enjoy history in new and invigorating ways.  He recalls standing before the Roman Coliseum, and being in awe of the great structure and the history that had taken place within it, imagining the bloody events and the seats once layered with crowds.  “When you’re a kid you don’t appreciate it as much as when you’re older, because now you’ve already learned about all this in school,” he says. “Now you’re able to picture everything right before you.”

For some travelers this summer, this statement spoke truth in more ways than one.  While with his cousin bike riding through a safari game park, junior Neville Harvey turned around a bush to suddenly become less than five feet away from a huge giraffe. But giraffes were not the only foreign animal he was able to come in close proximity with, also seeing wild elephants, bulls, gazelles and wildebeests.

Harvey stayed in South Africa for a month while visiting family.  While there he enjoyed the simplicities of South African life, such as walking his cousin’s dog, as well as the more unique experiences to be had, such as game parks and beaches.   “Enjoy the moment while you’re there,” he says, commenting on how to best enjoy the experiences overseas travel brings.  “It’s really amazing.”