Friday 11 Nov, 2016

Life Lessons Learned on Tour: A Series

Emily is a high school Spanish teacher who first started traveling with EF in 2006. She is passionate about providing her students the opportunity to have first-hand experiences with the global community and is equally as driven by her desire to help new group leaders have successful on tour experiences. In this series, Emily hopes to share some of the wisdom she has gained from traveling with groups over the past ten years.

After leading tours for many years now, I think it is safe to say that life on tour is unlike anything other experience. Imagine hearing your hotel phone ring minutes after you just finished making sure everyone was settled in their rooms for the night.

It’s 1:00 am.

Immediately, your responsible adult instinct sets in. “Oh no, what’s wrong?!” you think.

On the other end of the phone you hear a student, the stress in their voice apparent. You quickly find out that one of your students, a tall teenage boy, was attempting to take a shower in a tiny European tub/shower combo.

You know the one.

Yup, the one that is less than half the size of an American shower.

In the process of navigating this unfamiliar situation, the shower head fell off the “hook” it was precariously perched on and snapped completely off the hose, rendering the shower head useless. The student admits they are scared about “damaging” the room and having to pay for it and is hoping that, as his group leader, you have magical plumbing powers with which to fix the shower. Sadly, you do not. But you’re able make the situation better by easing his anxiety over the unexpected. It’s OK. “It was an honest accident and everything will be just fine,” you explain.

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This illustrates just one of the ways that touring with students provides opportunities to learn some incredibly valuable, sometimes humorous, and often unforgettable life lessons.

We are attracted to traveling because of all of the amazing places we get to experience. Our students are attracted to traveling because they get to be with their friends and will forever own the bragging rights that come along with international trips. Parents are attracted to the idea because of the long and rich history EF has as an educational travel company and the chance for their children to see the world. That being said, one thing that I feel is often under-considered during the enrollment process is the innumerable life lessons that students inevitably learn while traveling on tour.

There are an abundance of hidden treasures that happen throughout tour that, while maybe completely normal to us adults, are brand new experiences to our students. These life lessons are things that group leaders need to be consciously aware of so that they can help guide and mentor travelers as they experience them for the very first time. They are also great to point out to parents in your enrollment meetings and throughout your pre-departure preparation with your group.

Below is a list of some of the lessons I have seen my children learn while traveling on tour:

  1. Living with others
  2. Managing time
  3. Managing money
  4. Managing diet and health
  5. Navigating public transportation
  6. Keeping track of important documents
  7. Troubleshooting unexpected life issues

In this series of entries we will take an in depth look at each of these seven lessons and will dive into ways you can prepare your students for them. Stay tuned next week as we dive into living with others.

Ready to offer your students the experience of a lifetime? Browse tours here.