With the new SLAmbassadors being chosen and their trips only a few months away, they may have a massive amount of questions and fears about traveling to a new country. With the help of a few SLAmbassadors, this article will hopefully act as a guide for these students embarking on their new European journey.
Traveling to a new country is definitely something both amazing and scary. However, traveling with ten other students and two adults is also this gateway of becoming an adult. For the trip, you’re mostly on your own and at times you need to be able to make decisions of whether or not you want to try something new. You are also put into this situation where it’s up to you to start the conversation and meet new people in a foreign environment. Wright explained an experience while in Germany where she made a decision that ended up getting her lost and she wished she knew her German better and could’ve asked her advice before she made a decision.
“One time I wandered off at night and the Germans explained that was kinda dangerous and not to do that. If you feel unsafe you should always keep in contact with your host and just make sure you always tell them where you are.”
This advice is similar to what most people are told here in America but it’s good to recall it. Senior Taylor Green went on the Poland trip in the previous year. Green wanted to tell anyone who is a minority to be ready for some ignorance on the Poland trip.
“If you’re a person of color just prepared to not be in a not as diverse community like SLA. But don’t be afraid to try new things, new foods and always be friendly.”
Being alone in either of these countries can be scary. But don’t worry because you have about ten other students with you and two chaperones that you can contact if you feel unsafe. You also have your host, who is true of the expert of your European country.
Hosting vs Being Hosted
One of the most intimate parts of the SLAmbassadors trip is living with one another. When you travel to your designated European country you’ll have to live with your host or someone else if your host is unable to. Some hosts parents may not speak English, and you’ll be in that awkward space where your host has to translate everything you say. You’ll also have to shower, sleep and eat with your temporary family. The best advice people gave was to get to know your host. Senior Jayla Wright explained that you should try talking about some more meaningful stuff with your host.
“You should try to open up to your person so you guys can have some sort of connection or find something in common so that you can have at least one thing you guys can talk about. If you can’t have anything to talk about then it’s gonna really suck because your gonna spend a lot of time together alone.” Wright stated.
Opening up is a great way to expose yourself to your host and get rid of the uncomfortable awkwardness that will come. But be careful and don’t overshare, Junior Sam Gulaterrii, who traveled to Germany in the past year, made the mistake of telling his life story.
“As soon as I got to his house, I realized that we were both similar people and we kinda hit it off really quick. We just talked in his room for like three hours about everything that we enjoyed, because we had seventeen years of life to talk about and we ran through all of it and then we had nothing to talk about.”
Make sure you find a balance. The two of you will be around each other a lot and if you don’t find a balance you may find yourself unable to get along with each other. You should not feel pressured to be their new best friend but make sure you make them feel comfortable when they come and live with you too. Junior Nasya Ie traveled to Poland in the previous year and believed she was able to find this balance of talking to one another.
“Communication is key. One of the other hosts didn’t communicate very well and I think that’s super important. Just make sure you talk in general, before and when you do meet them. Send photos of you and your family so that you have a strong foundation before the meeting.”
If you have a bad relationship with your host and just want to be acquaintances with them, that’s alright. It’s not as much as your host but the country itself that you should really prepare for.
Wherever you may travel you may feel like you don’t know where you’re going. You’ve never been to Germany or Poland and you probably don’t know much about your trip. Senior William Huang traveled to Germany in the past year and gave some basics on what you should do before leaving.
“Do some research on activities or things you want to do because there will be free time and you’ll be in a situation where they ask you what you want to do. And you want the most out of the experience.”
Making sure that you pick out a few places that you want to visit is extremely important, especially in this case. There are about three days where the host has to show you around and most people have stated that their hosts really didn’t have much planned. It may be due to how alike their country is to Philadelphia. The only difference is that people are able to tell that you don’t belong there. Ie was surprised to see what Poland was like.
“They were modern than I expected and it reminded me of Philly. The people were really nice of course some of them were mean. Some of them would just stare at you. They didn’t want to give us change for larger bills and didn’t like to have to speak English.” Ie stated.
Almost everyone packs the nights before and when they pack you may feel overwhelmed. You may come to realize that you don’t know what to pack. It’s because of all the things you have to consider, an example is the gift you should bring for your host.
“You should get them plenty of American foods they can’t get and make something personal for them and get gifts for their whole family. My host gave me a journal that she made herself. So I did the same for her.” Wright stated.
For daily clothing, if you’re going on the Germany trip, interestingly enough the SLAmbassadors to wear shorts and short sleeve shirts. If you’re going on the Poland trip, you’ll probably have to do Model United Nations. Model UN also is known as Tomun in Poland, is an event in Poland where all the students represent different countries and have to discuss different political issues. Ie highly recommended that you wear some fancier clothing.
“Nicer clothes. They all wore dresses and suits during Model UN, they all just looked spot on. Make sure you have a heavy and light jacket. You should pack all the necessary products because sometimes it’s annoying having to run around for basic stuff.” Ie stated.
Regrets and Places to Be
It’s your last day of exploration of either Germany or Poland. You’ve packed up all your things. All the events and exciting things that happened on this trip have become memories. All the things you’ve seen have only become pictures. Once you return home all you’ll be thinking about it is: I wish I did more. Green excitedly told how she wished she had more of a chance to just have fun.
“Something I wish I did more of is…. I want to say party but I don’t wanna say party. For the Poland trip a lot of it was Model United Nations which was cool but when you go to a Foreign Country you don’t wanna do work or talk about world issues. You just wanna have fun and sightsee.” Green explained.
Spending time with your host can be really fun and exploring the city can be enlightening but sometimes just being able to dance around with your host can be really cool too. It’s also fun to do things you can do in America but in Europe.
“They have so many escape rooms and make sure to get Pierogies and tomato soup. Also their riverside it looks nice for pictures. They also have a gate where you can get put a combination lock on a gate as people do in France.” Ie told happily.
Trying new food is essential when traveling to a new country. Traveling to a new country is also a great chance to learn a new language and expand your understanding of the culture your about to learn about. Green continued to tell that she wishes she had a chance to learn the language.
“I guess I regret not learning the language as much as I should have. I was able to say ‘hi’ and “bye” to people but I wish I could have more of a conversation because the language barrier was definitely there.”
The SLAmbassadors trip can be really scary. It’s your chance to create a relationship with someone over 100,000 miles away. But make sure before you go to remember to be safe and have fun.
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