What drew you to Abbey Road and specifically the Modern Civilization program? What were you looking to get out of this experience?
To preface this, I think you should know that I received an International Baccalaureate Scholarship from my school that allowed me to go on the trip. I chose Abbey Road’s Modern Civilization program for a multitude of reasons. I really wanted to get something out of a summer program beyond simply sightseeing.
It was really important to me that my program not resemble a surface-skimming tourist group. Whenever I travel, I love truly experiencing the foreign city and not just moving from monument to monument with blinders on. The fact that Abbey Road has you stay in a location for at least a week and really experience the culture was extremely appealing.
In the end, what did you get out of this experience?
I got more out of the trip than I could have ever hoped for. I got to immerse myself in the vibrant cultures of all three countries, I fell in love with Austria, I got to see so much incredible architecture that I cannot possibly name them all, I got learn about the German perspective (both historical and contemporary) of WWII and the Holocaust, I made two amazing friends that will last a lifetime (I’ve honestly talked to them every day since returning home), I got to marvel at the Hapsburgs’ splendid accommodations, and I got to sample all of the regional foods, discovering some favorites along the way.
Has this experience changed you in any way?
By going on this trip, I truly enhanced my view of history and broadened my global perspective. In addition, I honestly believe that I was able to grow as a person. I had never really been on my own before (I have a twin brother) and I got to see how good I was at handling my own affairs. Did you go on the program with friends or by yourself? Was it easy to make friends on the trip?
I went on the trip by myself, without knowing anyone prior to arriving at JFK. I immediately clicked with my two future friends in the airport and in the first city, Berlin, and that chemistry lasted the duration of the trip. As the trip went on, I found myself getting closer and closer to my two friends and was able to get along well with the others in the group.
Were you comfortable throughout the program with your roommates and the hotels you stayed in?
The staff did an excellent job orienting us with each new city. The only exception, I would say, as we were not given much roaming time in Berlin. However, I realize this was because it was the first city [on the itinerary] and there was so much history to see in Berlin that there was little time for roaming.
The hotels were top notch. The rooms were lovely, the locations were perfect, and the breakfasts were superb. In particular, the apartments in Vienna were spectacular and the breakfasts at the hotel in Berlin were great.
Can you list a favorite memory or an activity highlight from each city?
Berlin – Bike tour, Jewish History Museum, DDR Museum, Museum Isle Prague – Free time with friends, view from the clock tower, Trdlo Salzburg – Visit to Lake District, Tricking Fountains, Bike Ride Vienna – Schoenbrunn, the Hofburg, Spanish Riding School
What was your favorite city on the program and why?
Salzburg. I really fell in love with Austrian culture and Salzburg was so livable and picturesque.
Being a senior in high school, do you feel this experience has helped better prepare you for college?
When you look back on the trip is there one memory specifically that sticks out to you overall?
Either wandering around Prague with my two best friends and somehow arriving at the John Lennon wall and a museum of contemporary art or, renting bikes with the same friends and biking up and down the river in Salzburg.
Do you feel the Modern Civilization program met your expectations? Would you recommend it to a friend?
I would definitely recommend it or any other Abbey Road program.
Lastly, do you think you could have had the same experience traveling by yourself or with your family? If not, what was it specifically about “Abbey Road” that made this trip special?
I am sure that I would have had a wonderful experience with my family. We all love to travel and they are the ones who ingrained me with my love of immersing myself in the culture. However, my traveling with Abbey Road, I was able to grow as an individual in a way that I would not have been able to if I had journeyed with my parents. The friends I made are irreplaceable and it was nice being able to share my amazing experiences [later] with my parents.