I've never traveled out of North America and really wanted to see new places in the world with new people.
Why did you choose Travel For Teens?
The itinerary looked super fun and after researching the company more I discovered that they're a safe and trusted company.
What was your favorite part the countries you traveled to?
I went to Rome and Sorrento in Italy, and Lefkada and Athens in Greece. I don't think I have a favorite because they were all so cool for different reasons. Both countries have amazing food, breathtaking beaches, and super interesting people.
What made your experience abroad unique?
Being able to share it with kids my age who I've never met before. It of course was intimidating initially, but being able to create new experiences with new people is in a way better than with old friends, because you have no preconceived conceptions of what you think your travel buddies might be like/what to expect. You're all adapting to the surroundings and each other on the fly and it's super cool.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
They were amazing. They were at the age (25/26ish) that they were old enough so you respected and trusted them, but young enough for you to relate to and not feel like you were getting bossed around by cranky adults. They became huge role models and almost like an older brother/sister influence to me.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
Hmmmm. I don't know honestly. Maybe try more different foods. I for sure stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new things, but I could've experimented in my cuisine a little more.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
Wake up with your new close friends, eat a quick breakfast, do a bunch of crazy fun activities all day, eat super good, sleep, repeat.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
Shopping or just walking around the local area and talking to natives.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best it?
I'm not sure what this means
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
That in order to have fun, you can't get sucked into your own introverted shell. You're in a new place with new people; open up, listen to others, make strong connections, and please please please try new things!
What was the hardest part going on a high school program abroad?
I don't think there was one? Being with kids my age made it so much better. I guess the only thing is that I wish we were given more freedom, almost half of us were 18 at the time.
What surprised you most Europe?
How good their food and water is. Actually. The food is mind blowing, and for some reason their water just tastes better.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
Not at all. Most knew English, and if they didn't, we used google translate. It was kinda cool.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before going on a high school program abroad in Europe?
Pack more pairs of shorts. You can never have enough pairs of shorts.
If you could go abroad again, where would you go?
So many places. Off the top of my head: Spain, Iceland, Nicaragua, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, Bora Bora, Australia, Vietnam, Fiji, Japan, Thailand, England, France, and India.
What do you feel the biggest benefit of going on a high school program abroad is?
Being able to experience new and beautiful things with new and beautiful people.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Europe?
Bring good walking shoes, you walk on average 6-8 miles a day. Get disposable cameras (for the mems), pack a lot of outfits in ziplock bags so your suitcase doesn't explode, get tide magic stain eraser and wrinkle remover spray, and sunglasses.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
I wish I could go back. It widened my perspective on life and cultures and ways of living. I am so grateful I got this opportunity. It for sure will make going to college easier, because now I know I'm a quick adapter and am good with new people in new places.
Would you recommend Travel For Teens to others? Why?
Yes yes yes yes yes. It helps you grow so much as a person and it is the best two weeks of your life. Do it.
Natalie Finfer is a high school senior. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and has done some, but not excessive amounts of traveling. Natalie teaches at dance camps over the summer and plans on attending college next year.