Thursday 19 Jun, 2014

Leaving Room for Student Travel Spontaneity: The 70th Anniversary of D-Day and Theater in London

As promised, I’m following up from my last post halfway through my fifth EF tour, and so far it’s been a fantastic trip! Leaving the Midwest behind us, we landed at the Charles de Gaulle airport, where we were greeted by our brilliant EF Tour Director, Becky. Drop me into Paris blindfolded and I would instantly know where I am. The people, the food, the art and architecture – Paris truly is an amazing city. However, it’s not our experience in Paris that I want to share with you.

When I first looked at our tour’s itinerary I noticed that we would be crossing the English Channel on June 6th, D-Day. It just so happened that this was the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. This momentous occasion brought many veterans, political leaders, and even the Queen herself to France. It was remarkable (if not slightly odd) to see the Union Jack flag flying throughout France in honor of Queen Elizabeth II. Crossing the Channel via the Chunnel, I got goose bumps thinking about the thousands of soldiers that crossed the same waters, heading in the opposite direction 70 years earlier — be it above the water and not under it. Our planned itinerary in France was exceptional, but taking part in something historic like this was truly awe-inspiring and special. It was a powerful moment, and one that made us really appreciate our country, its history, and the sacrifice of all the Allied soldiers that stormed the beaches of Normandy.

Normandy

One of the things I love about an EF tour is the ability to customize your trip during free time. On our second day in London we all decided that we wanted to see a show. Taking the advice of our Tour Director, we made our way to Leicester Square and purchased tickets for that evening’s performance at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Dressed to impress we arrived at the theater, and to our surprise, discovered that our seats had been upgraded. For most of my students this was their first real theater experience. It was a fabulous evening, and hopefully one they will never forget. The songs from the show are now stuck in our head, and yes, we’ve comically tried to sing them.

Since then we have visited Oxford University and also explored the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born. Tomorrow we head north and make our way to Holyhead in Wales. From there we’ll hop on a ferry and cross the Irish Sea. We’re off to the Emerald Isle!

Bobby is an Assistant Principal with a background in History and Social Studies. He first traveled with EF Tours in 2010 to Rome and Paris, and now leads a student tour every summer. He believes that young people should experience life outside of their communities, and that understanding other cultures is imperative to solving global challenges.