Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
It's the first day back at school and people ask, "What did you do this summer?" Most kids answer, "Oh, same old, same old. Went camping, swimming, hanging out with friends. You know, the usual." I get to reply: "I went to Europe." And immediately, people start to ask a bunch of questions. "Where did you go?" "What did you do?" "What did you see?"
During my 19 days of travel, I visited England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one I was glad I participated in. When I received a letter in the fall of 2008, I opened it up and read all about the great things I could do on this trip. I instantly wanted to go to the meeting so I could learn more about it, but my parents were reluctant. I begged and begged and, finally, they had to give in. We went to the introductory meeting where we heard more of the details of the trip and that confirmed it for me: I was going on this trip no matter what. My parents were willing to let me go on one condition: I had to pay for half of it myself. That's when I learned something: if you want something badly enough, go for it. I learned determination, and it helped me throughout my trip and will continue to help in life. I saved every penny that I got, and asked for donations. The Kimball Legion Club graciously helped me in paying for the trip.
Before the trip, we were required to go to meetings every other month to help prepare us. There, I learned more about the organization that would bring me to Europe. People to People Student Ambassadors is a government group started in the 1950s that brings kids from all over the United States to foreign countries all over the world. My group from Minnesota was combined with a group from Wyoming and was brought to the British Isles. I met some very nice kids on my trip and hopefully I'll be able to call them friends years from now.
Once we finally made it to Europe, we were so excited and tired. We all were suffering from jet lag but that didn't stop us from capturing pictures of the beautiful countryside of Scotland which was our first destination. We did so many things! In Scotland, we went white-water rafting, learned dances, went to medieval castles, and went hunting for Nessie.
In Ireland, we went across a rickety rope bridge, learned yet again more dances, and played in a bog which was surprisingly fun, learned Gaelic football, watched a street musical, and scavenged around Dublin looking for clues. Also in Dublin, we were able to stay with an Irish family for two days and were able to experience their lifestyles. It's one of the activities that makes People to People groups so unique. I absolutely adored my Irish home-stay family.
In Wales (yes, it is a country), we spent an entire day preparing to go down an 80-foot castle wall. During the morning, we had our "full-on" experience. It was a morning dedicated to teaching us to conquer our fears. We had many activities designed to show us that we can do anything and should try everything! During one such activity, we were able to break boards with our bare hands. Then it was on to the wall! Many kids were scared, but not me; I love heights. After waiting and waiting, finally it was my turn. I got up there and looked around, loving the views. Then the instructor told me to go over the ledge. That's when I got nervous. It's one thing to stand on a tower, perfectly safe, and it's another to go over the edge willingly when you don't have to. But I had just spent the morning and, indeed, the entire trip, trying new things. Going down that tall castle wall was nerve-wracking but in the end it was worth it.
I have no regrets about my entire trip and I learned to always try new things, even if the leaders of the group are telling you you're eating cats. (It wasn't cats; it was just some really gross chicken curry.)
In England, we went to the Tower of London, rode the London Eye which is the tallest ferris wheel in the world, watched the Changing of the Guard in front of Buckingham Palace, saw a play, and traveled in the Tube ("Mind the Gap!").
I wanted to go on this trip and I'm glad I worked for it. I have no regrets and I am extremely happy with my experiences. Whether it was abseiling down a wall or white-water rafting or playing in a bottom-less pit of mud, or simply making new friends, I will always have these memories.
Lindsey Pramann is a Pohlad Family Foundation intern at the Tri-County News this summer. She will be a senior at Kimball Area High School in the fall.