New Jersey Spanish teacher and ACIS Group Leader, Scott S., recently led a group on the ACIS Madrid and Paris tour. Below is his educational tour review.
Scott, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. Let’s start with the basics, why do you travel with students?
I travel with students as I love to extend the walls of the classroom. Not just in the language class, but also to other courses they have taken so they can make connections with what they have learned in class. Furthermore, I continue to revisit many destinations because I get to see students reactions and excitement them for the first time.
You’re right, students’ excitement is definitely contagious. Why did you choose the Madrid and Paris tour?
I chose Madrid and Paris as these are two incredible places to see over the holiday´s. Paris goes without saying is beautiful all of the time but the “city of lights” really becomes even more beautiful in December. This is my second New Year’s Eve with students in Madrid and I chose this city not because we are a Spanish class, but also so they can experience the 12 grapes and if we were lucky, to spend it in the Puerta del Sol.
How were you feeling leading up to the trip? Excited? Nervous? What about the group?
To be completely honest, my emotions were like a rollercoaster. This trip was originally planned for 2020, but we pushed it to 2021. After running a tour to Ecuador in August with students, I was confident it would be successful even in a pandemic.
And how was the travel process? Was it different than usual?
Time! First thing, we had to make sure we all had a negative Antigen or PCR test within 48 hours prior to departure. This made the airport experience a little more stressful than usual, but we were prepared. Everyone had a copy of what they needed, the airports set up stations depending on one’s destination so the documents each agent needed to look for was uniform. After that, it really was smooth sailing.
Now onto the fun stuff, what are some highlights from the tour?
If I asked 23 students, I might get 23 answers. They loved eating the pastries, trying escargot, and seeing all of the Christmas markets in Paris as well as in Madrid. The New Year’s Day walk through Parque de Retiro, chocolate y churros, celebrating at midnight with the españoles with the 12 grapes and flamenco! Yes, almost all of them danced!!
Nice! So glad to hear everyone made the most of the experience. Did Covid impact your tour once overseas?
It really did not. Masks were mandatory in both cities, but everything we came to see, we saw and more!
You mentioned earlier that your emotions were like a rollercoaster leading up the tour. Once overseas, did you feel well cared for?
What kept me from falling off the rollercoaster was my tour consultant. Jill really was there to listen to the concerns I had. I was reassured that I had ACIS had our safety in mind and after 12 trips with them, I knew it inside as well. Oihana, our tour manager, was absolutely wonderful. The patience and flexibility that is needed in travelling during these times are so important to have because things are always changing.
What were your students reactions to the tour? Did we live up to our motto of travel changes lives?
They were really thankful that we were able to go. In a time that a lot of their friends were not able to leave their house, they left the country and made memories and friends that will last a lifetime. Yes, the motto continues represent ACIS. I have had a chance to speak with so many of the students in the hallway over the last few weeks and they talk about how it was the best time of their life. The just couldn´t believe that they were there. When they go back, they will do yada yada yada again! After 15 trips total, I do not get tired of hearing this.
Neither do we! And what about you? Are you happy with your experience working with ACIS?
I have been happy travelling with ACIS since I changed educational tour companies in 2012. I will continue to recommend them not just for their centrally located hotels and the cuisine that you receive. The kids love this! What I love is the care, quality, and detail that my tour consultant, support staff, [ACIS President] Peter Jones, and everyone I work with puts into the program. They all believe in the company’s motto and care for the teachers which really speaks volumes.