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

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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!

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Grand Prize Winner: “Eternal”

By Olivia N., Illinois

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Artist Statement: My essay, “Eternal,” gives light to my firsthand account of how I found purpose during travel. Amid the bustling city of Rome, in the heat of summer, I saw something that changed my life. It wasn’t a monument, or ancient relic, or piece of art made centuries in the past. It was simple graffiti, a message that has stuck with me since the day I saw it. It caused me to rethink my definition of ‘purpose,’ and to seek opportunities for connection. I believe that these attempts to find connections are what can be defined as “traveling with purpose.”

Runner Up: “The Missing Piece”

By Ife A., Virginia

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Artist Statement: My piece describes how you can find yourself, your purpose in connecting with other cultures. When you travel not just for fun but for growth and learning, you can fill a hole in your heart you didn’t know was there.

Runner Up: “Living”

By Isabella B., Minnesota 

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Artist Statement: Traveling for me and my family, has always consisted of the sense of community rather than where we are. My poem represents how experiences with yourself and your loved ones are the best reasons to travel. If you just travel for a sense of temporary relief from the world, then you aren’t truly seeing what it means to travel with purpose. The meaning and significance of existing while you travel, is the sole reason that I choose to do so. I can’t even tell the difference between being in Europe versus going to the park on the weekend, as long as I have my people with me. Living shows us that to find purpose in your travels, you must simply exist alongside your journey.

Runner Up: “Travel with Purpose”

By Clea T., Michigan

Artist Statement: Everywhere I go, I bring my sketchbook, which is more accurate of a diary than I could ever arrange in purely written word– this animation is a pretty truthful depiction of my wide-eyed traveling self.

Runner Up: “Through the Mist”

By Griffin B., South Carolina

Artist Statement: Through this piece, I wanted to depict traveling’s unique ability to push through the misty veil of modern-day life and see what once was. You can read about history in a text book but by traveling with purpose, you can truly feel history. Through traveling, crumbling ruins and empty streets come live again like when they were new.

Runner Up: “Fly Away”

By Grace D., Illinois

Artist Statement: My original song “Fly Away” is about the changes a person goes through when deliberately traveling to understand other people. It shares the desire to get out of the mundane cycle I’ve fallen into and begin to learn about different cultures and lifestyles. The lyrics reflect the similarities and differences between people and the decision to accept the many ways of life.

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