By: Caitlin Pettengill
Staff Writer

A  dedicated group of Hammond High School teachers organized a trip to England, Ireland, Wales, and France for HCPSS students for the Spring of 2017. I was disappointed when I first saw the itinerary and noticed that we were spending the most time in Ireland.
It’s not that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Ireland, I’d just heard so many amazing things from people who had been to London and Paris and would have rather maximized my time at those European landmarks. Regardless, I was quick to sign up the day Educational
Foundation opened our trip.

There was a big lead up to the trip, planning and preparations spanning over a year and a half after I’d signed up. Our chaperones had monthly meetings for us to learn about the history behind the places we were going and the cultures we were going to be interacting
with. Not only did these lessons help me create connections with books we’d read as part of our curriculum in English class, such as Jane Eyre, but they created a “book club,” where each student chose to read a book that took place in one of the four countries we were going to. Personally I read the Hunchback of Notre Dame which helped strengthen my knowledge on the city of Paris. When we got off the bus at the Cathedral I was taken aback by how real it all was and I thought back to the story and looked around practically seeing the events occur. The amount of connections me and my peers were able to make to so many things we’d learned in the classroom was amazing.

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Caitlin Pettengill and Gavin Walls standing in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

When the day we left finally came I was ecstatic, it felt like the longest plane ride of my life because of how excited I was. When we were flying into Ireland I was looking out the window and it truly is the Emerald Isle. Our first day in Ireland we went on horse
drawn carriage rides through the Irish National Park with the tour guide being a local Irish man. We then spent the next few days visiting various historic locations learning about the eventful past of the country.

Making new friends in Ireland

After  Ireland, we traveled through Wales, making a few stops along the way, to the England. We were able to watch the changing of the guard, visit Windsor Castle and see the Queen return home from a trip. On our last night we spent time shopping in Piccadilly Circus,
where most of us were able to try a Cadbury Egg flavored ice cream. Our final destination of the trip was to Paris, France. Although we only spent two days in the “City of Love,” I believe that this was enough time to visit most of the major landmarks of the country. 

Hammond students pose on a tour of the Ring of Kerry.

We spent a day visiting the Louvre, shopping in the city, and indulging in pasta and crepes. I feel lucky enough to say that I stood at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower and ate a crepe. We also took a night boat ride on the Seine River as our last excursion before leaving. This was a life changing experience not only because of how much I learned and the amazing experiences I had, but because I got to go through it all with my best friends and favorite teachers. In an instant I would sign up for another trip and am now very excited to study abroad in college.