Each year SLUH offers students the opportunity to learn more firsthand about other cultures with trips to several different countries, including Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, Russia and Taiwan.
Sunday I went with my family to a family-friend gathering in Champagne. It was really interesting to see what it's like for their family to get together with friends. They sat at the table eating for about four hours somehow. They kept bringing me these fancy food and drinks. I was living. All the people there were really nice to me and it was a really fun time. We played rugby in their yard and this french game called Pétanque with all the men. They were curious to learn about the states and talk to me and were really inviting. I think generally in France people put much more emphasis on getting together. My french family is always with their friends. In the states I feel like this is more rare. Weekends for me and many families are filled more with sports games, homework, and work rather than spending the whole day with family and friends. That could be because here, since France is smaller, family and friends stay closer together. In America all my family lives so far away we can't see them too often like many people can here in France. also, my host brother and his brother don't have weekend homework like I do so they can actually enjoy their time off. Overall, it was really interesting to see how a family spends a weekend here.
After we arrived on Wednesday and met our host families, I went with Manu and his mother to have lunch at his mother’s apartment in Chartres. Wednesday night we stayed in and I got to know Manu’s younger brother, Marvin. On Thursday I went to school with Manu and sat in on some of his classes. It was difficult to follow along but very interesting! On Friday we visited Le Château Chambord, and that night Manu and I went to a music festival in Chartres. On Saturday Manu took me to Paris with his cousin, and on Sunday we celebrated Marvin’s First Communion with Manu’s aunts, uncles, and cousins. I had a great first week!
Our trip concluded with the last few nights in Moscow. While there, we saw Red Square (although actually it's called beautiful square, not red square) the first night, while experiencing an evening on the Arbat, a strip of souvenir shops with food and street performers in between. We then walked through Lenin’s tomb, and Goom, the official state-sponsored mall. We ate in a Russian McDonalds, which was huge, and in a Russian Krispy Kreme, also huge. One student, Ryan Lieser, was fortunate to be able to see the Russia vs. Spain game live and see Russia win in a penalty kick thriller. On our van tour the second day, we saw the World War II Memorial, and then finished our time in Moscow at the Circus, watching acrobats and animals do crazy things. All in all, a great way to cap off a great trip.
Today we landed in Russia and we went to the currency exchange and learned how to exchange dollars for rubles. Experiencing the difference between Russian culture and American culture has been an eye opening experience. The morning after we arrived we had our first Russian lesson in Russia. It was very exciting. After the first day of class we went as a group and walked around the city and hit all of the important sites: The house of books (Дома Книги), St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Исаакиевский собор), and much more. It has been such a rewarding experience to become immersed in a culture where you are able to speak the language. Once we had walked all the way to the end of Nevski Prospect, the Main Street of St. Petersburg, we had our first experience on the metro headed back to school. It was so exciting to experience life in a city on the other end of the earth.
Pictured: Jr. Bills were keen to promote the U. High on Silver Strand Beach, one of the northwestern-most points in Ireland in a part of Donegal called Glencolumbkille, during their trip to Ireland in the summer of 2016.
The SLUH Ireland trip, led by Mr. Bill George, who started it in 1994, and Mr. John Kavanaugh '91, is an annual event offered to students who take Irish Literature as an elective in the SLUH English senior curriculum.
For the 2016 SLUH Ireland trip, eight students with Mr. George and Kavanaugh walked, hiked, and climbed the gorgeous Irish landscape; explored ruins, castles and sacred sites; and experienced music, drama, and art first hand in Dublin, Donegal and Derry. This year featured an especially memorable visit to meet the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O'Malley, his wife Dena, their son Brendan '94 and family friend Patrick Huber '92 in the Ambassador's residence in Phoenix Park.
After we left Taipei for the countryside, we all stayed with a host family for a few days. During my days with my host family I visited the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Arts Festival and biked to see Turtle Island. Sadly, our stays with our host families were only 3 days but all of us made great memories with our families and are still in contact with them. After we departed from our host families we took the train back to Taipei and visited the zoo to see pandas and many other aboriginal species of Taiwan. On our last night of the trip, we rode the metro to Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings, and gazed out at the city that had been our home for the past two weeks.
After arriving at the airport in Taipei we made our way through the city, beautifully lit up at night time, to arrive at the great CU Hotel Taipei. The CU Hotel was conveniently located only a short walk from various breakfast shops, a local 7-11, a small park, a vibrant night market, and a metro station which seemed to access the whole city of Taipei. On the first day of the trip we explored an interesting pack of shops and street performers on the Old Ceramic street. Immediately afterwards the group headed to watch the hometown Fubon Guardians play a great baseball game.
We started of the next day with some sightseeing at the magnificent Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, where we watched a changing of the guards ceremony. Later in the day, Our Lady of Providence High School welcomed us. They provided several group games to be played. If you lost, you had to face a punishment of performing Taiwanese dance from the 1950’s, yelling out an embarrassing phrase, or reciting a song. Other highlights of our time in Taipei included riding bikes on the riverfront and exploring night markets. Just before meeting our host families we spent a day in Hualien, a small coastal town on the East side of the island. There I had a wonderful time exploring the local night market. Here we were free to try local foods, such as the delicious pig blood cake. The night market had a relaxed feel, with open walking spaces, grass fields, and street musicians throughout.