Student Stories

Travel is a thrill. It’s an adventure. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime memory in the making.

Going to France opened my eyes to the world and made me realize I wanted to travel with my job. I am willing to relocate anywhere for work now because of this trip. This year I leave for Germany for a year for a dual-degree study abroad program between Illinois State University and the University of Paderborn in Paderborn, Germany. If it wasn’t for my ACIS trip, I’d have no clue where I would be today or what I would be doing. This trip jump-started my college career. If I could do it again, I certainly would. I would recommend this for anybody.”

ALLIE, ACIS Participant

Student Spotlight

Nick’s Costa Rican Adventure

We’re shining a spotlight on Nick, who traveled on an ACIS trip to Costa Rica. What did he think about his adventure abroad? Find out in this exclusive interview!

Read more on the Blog

Grand Prize Winner: “Nomad”

By Luciana K., North Carolina

Digital Painting Inspired by a Photograph, Source Unknown

Artist Statement: Through this piece I wanted to depict the introspective emotions that come from stepping away from the repetition of every day life through travel. Having the ability to travel, whether that be across the world or a few miles outside city limits, has the capability to motivate someone towards change but can alter our perspective of the world around us.

Runner Up: “Sit Down and Enjoy”

By Mariah P., Kansas

Watercolor Painting

Artist Statement: No matter where you are, we all eat. One of the greatest things about travel is getting to “sit down and enjoy” the food of that region. I think food is the fastest way to connect with someone and meet with them on a deep emotional level. The dinner table is where the action happens, and by sitting down and understanding someone new, we can live our lives with a better attitude, preparing us for a better future.

Runner Up: “Tell Me You Haven’t Changed”

By Annabella M., Washington


Read Poem

Artist Statement: My poem, Tell Me You Haven’t Changed, is passionate and embraces the theme that travel changes lives. In the poem I use sensory details and imagery to convey the emotion in traveling the world and in experiencing new things. I often effectively use the form of a rhetorical question, to drive the theme in the poem. I demand them to tell me that they haven’t changed. I connect to poetry and feel I can truly express myself in regard to the theme in this form. Traveling is a valuable life experience that allows for personal growth, encourages cross-cultural interaction, and inspires people in ways that can’t leave a person unchanged.

Runner Up: “Reminiscences to a Stranger”

By Hannah G., Texas



Artist Statement: My piece is a deeply personal and introspective narrative, recounting the circumstances that made travel a vital component of my life. By illunimating the harrowing obstacles and starkly contrasting this with the interactions had and lessons learned that made such a journey of self-discovery worth it, I hope I effectively conveyed how “travel changes lives.”

Runner Up: “Voyages”

By Yuuto I., California

Violin Composition

Artist Statement: Travel is not just about visiting places you’ve never been before. It is the act of cultural immersion, the act of rediscovering yourself, and the act of fulfilling your dream. In my original composition, “Voyages,” the piece opens up with calm atmosphere and melody. This represents “pre-travel.” The song soon transitions into “during travel,” where waves of excitement overflow one’s mind as they explore new things, people, and cultures. The last melody seems like a repetition of the first melody; however, they are not completely similar. This “post-travel” reflects how one’s mind was changed through gains earned from precious experiences.

Runner Up: “Adventure Awaits”

By Erin M., Alabama

Original Song

Artist Statement: Adventure Awaits is an original song inspired by the stories of a friend that spent the past 2 years living in Africa. I have witnessed the transformation of my friend from someone that cared about nail color and hairstyles to someone who cares more about sky colors and local customs of her friends and neighbors. I have not been to Africa yet, but I am traveling through ACIS this summer and hope to be changed like my friend.

Student Spotlight

Johnny Vrba

Johnny Vrba, a high school senior from Illinois, traveled with his classmates to France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. We interviewed Johnny about his experience traveling to Europe, what it was like making new friends and how his tour manager, Jerome, completely made his experience what it was.

Read more on the Blog

Student Videos

France, the Trip of a Lifetime

Gavin V.– Pennsylvania

Senior Trip Thailand ACIS 2k19

David C.– New York

Europe Trip

Emily R.– Louisiana

A Week in Greece

Hanah N. and Audrey H.– Virginia

Scotland 2019

Michaela L.– New Jersey

Costa Rica 2019 - ACIS Tours

Rio G.– New Jersey

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#Tag Along

Get a taste for what’s really happening on tour. Browse recent participants’ photos and posts by visiting Then when you travel, tag along with us on Twitter or Instagram using #ACISTours. You may even see yourself here one day!

Collage of students taking selfies in front of landmarks