WHITING | Recently, Whiting High School travelers who embarked on 12-day journey through Spain, France and Italy finally returned home. The group, which consisted of 20 Spanish III-IV students, group leader Mrs. Marina Klochan, chaperones Mr. Dan Nichols and Ms. Regina Hylek, along with parent Mrs. Gomez, were exhausted after their nine-hour flight from Switzerland, but they had plenty of stories to share with friends and family members who were waiting anxiously for their safe return. After almost two weeks away, they knew that it was going to take a lot of adjusting to get used to the way of life back in Whiting.
The trip began in Madrid, curved up through Spain, spanned across the southern countryside of France, and winded into the northern part of Italy where Rome was their final destination. During their first two days in Madrid, the students spent a lot of their time shopping and exploring Plaza de Sol and Plaza Mayor, the two main commercial centers of the city. They also visited The Prado, the second-largest art museum in Europe, and attended a performance of Flamenco, which is a very popular and traditional Spanish dance.
The next day, the students traveled to Barcelona, where they had the opportunity to see famous landmarks such as Parque Guell and the Church of La Sagrada Familia, both of which were designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Later during the day, the students took a bike tour through the city down to the Mediterranean coastline, where it began to rain heavily. It was a moment that none of them will forget. Barcelona is also where they tried the famous Spanish dish, Paella, for the first time.
From Barcelona, the group made its way into France where they first visited the medieval cities of Carcassonne and Avignon. There, the students had a chance to revisit the Medieval Times and the Renaissance as they explored the castles and streets of these rustic villages. These places were Mr. Nichols’s favorite places to visit.“The castle we toured (in Carcassonne) was amazing,” Mr. Nichols said.
The last place the students visited in France was Nice, a city along the Mediterranean coast that is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. From Nice, the students made an extra excursion to Monte Carlo, Monaco, which is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe.
Making their way through mountains and curving into Italy, the students’ first stop was Pisa, where nobody could resist the temptation of taking a picture of themselves “leaning” against the famous tower. After Pisa, the students spent an entire day in the city of Florence, where they were able to witness the process of how genuine Italian leather is made. The city itself provided plentiful laces to shop and eat, but also some spectacular sights such as a scale model of Michelangelo’s David statue, along with some of his other works.
The group then spent their last two days in Rome, “The Eternal City.” In their first day in Rome, the students took a tour of Vatican City, where they saw the countless amounts of statues and tapestries that were centuries old in the Vatican Museum. Included in the visit was a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, St Peter’s Square and, of course, the magnificent Sistine Chapel. On their last day in Rome, the students spent the day visiting famous landmarks such as the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. The day ended with a night tour of the city, which, Mrs. Klochan said, was her favorite moment of the trip.
“Not only are the Coliseum and the Vatican just gorgeous at night,” she said, “but also it was the night before we were returning home and everyone was relaxed and having fun dancing in the square.”
Now that the trip is over, Mrs. Klochan is relieved of the stress and worries that came to her during the trip.
“I was worried we would miss a connection for our plane. I was worried that someone would get homesick, that someone would become ill or that someone would get lost. It is a great responsibility,” she said. “I wanted everyone on the trip to enjoy everything about this educational and awesome endeavor.”
Mr. Nichols, however, had one particular concern of his own.
“I was nervous for the students because of the professional pick-pockets and people who are scam artists trying to take advantage of people.”
Overall, the trip had overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone who went, especially the students. Senior Juan Aceves, who documented most of the trip on his camera, especially enjoyed it.
“What was most rewarding as getting the chance to see the world,” he said. “There is so much more out there than Whiting, Indiana. Traveling and seeing the rest of the world is something I’m definitely going to be doing a lot of in the future.”
Although Mrs. Klochan had told students before the trip that this would be her last one for students, there has been talk of possibly taking another student voyage to Europe with her Spanish classes in the future. To her, the most rewarding experience of planning it all was seeing the faces of her students as they absorbed the sights and sounds of Europe.
“Seeing a picture in a book and actually experiencing firsthand are completely different,” she said. “The excitement of the students will always be in my memory. Again, thank you to Mr. Nichols and Ms. Hylek for helping to assist me in this opportunity for the students of Whiting High School.”