“In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.” Unknown.
London, Ypres, Paris, Venice, Rome, Sorrento and Hong Kong through which we travelled, sparked the creation of twenty-one daring, attentive and travel-savvy senior students from Woodford House.
Conversations with strangers in a foreign language (vous avez passé une bonne journée?), encounters of strange foods (frog’s legs, beef and beer stew, or pineapple pie anyone?) and tolerance of uncomfortable situations (how about being sandwiched between two Italian men on the Roman Metro?), all came together to create twenty-one audacious adolescents. We learnt to embrace the fact that we were no longer in the comfort of the quiet, barely populated New Zealand, but instead the eventful and bustling Europe. Consequently, we began to branch out and formed friendships with anyone and everyone ranging from Welsh school students to an Italian waiter named Salvador, and even David Beckham! Any inhibitions vanished faster than Mr Plant’s power walk.
Not only did we learn to admire the art at museums such as the Louvre, Victoria & Albert and Sistine Chapel, but also the art of noticing the little things around us. With any wander of a Woodford girl’s eye came the guarantee of spotting something peculiar and unique to Europe. In a day and age where most gazes are fixed on screens, it was enlivening to become transfixed by the sound of the tube accelerating, the smell of french bread, the sighting of a french bulldog, and so much more. What may have been part of mundane life for Europeans, became moments that taught us not to measure our trip by the amount of clothes, cosmetics or souvenirs we bought. Our memories from the voyage were not purchased but rather seen, heard, tasted, smelt and spoken.
Be pushy and prepared. With these two words in mind, Europe was our gateway to becoming travel savvy. Thrusting ourselves onto trains (with great support from Mrs Morice), sneaking our way to the front of crowds and abruptly refusing offers made by street vendors, became regular occurrences. This was quite a change from the carefree and relaxed travelling we were used to in New Zealand. It came as a surprise that not one of us was pick-pocketed, however we must give our excellent precautionary measures some credit. These ranged from padlocks to Katrina Lyon’s bag that had a magical pocket which made everything from her train card to passport, disappear.
On top of that, It felt strange wearing a travel wallet at first, but quickly they became our closest companions. Our newfound insight into the world of travelling led to the observation of a pick-pocketing gang being arrested, not once but three times. Nothing can stop us now.
I could talk forever about our unforgettable, or as the French say, ‘incroyable’ experiences in Europe. My family and friends will never hear the end of it. I arrived home in Hawke’s Bay with lots of memories, but also, due to Mrs Roberts eternal love for Sainsbury’s Meal Deals, lots of leftover money. A one-way ticket to Europe anyone?
To see more photos from the trip please visit the Woodford House Facebook Gallery: http://goo.gl/ArSqiF
Ruby Hansen, Year 12