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My experience with Abbey Road Western Civilization Program – by Amelia K.
by Student, Amelia K. , New York

This was your second summer with Abbey Road, what drew you to Abbey Road the first time and what made you decide to go again?
I started Abbey Road the summer after I stopped going to summer camp and I was looking for something to do that would be both productive and fun. My mom found it online and she sent me the link and I thought it looked like a really fun and educational thing to do. When I first decided to do Abbey Road, I was deciding between the Nice and the Western Civilization program. I chose Nice first because I was taking French, however, this summer I wanted to take the opportunity to go on the Western Civilization program.
What drew you to the Western Civ program? What were you looking for?
I would say the history aspect because history is my favorite academic class in school. I used to live in Europe when I was little. I lived in Belgium and England for a couple of years. My parents and older sister have all these memories of us visiting all these places, but I can’t remember any of it. I really wanted the opportunity to explore Europe and the Western Civ program offers that. You get the chance to see and learn about the best parts of all these great countries.
Did you like your instructors? What were classes like? 
The staff was really great, helpful and informative. For class, usually, we had a reading in our packet that corresponded to the place we were visiting that day. We would either do the reading the night before and go discuss it onsite or read it onsite and discuss it there. I really liked this style of learning because when you’re a traditional classroom and you’re reading an excerpt about St. Catherine of Siena for example, it’s not really all that interesting. However, when you read the excerpt about St. Catherine in Siena at St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Siena and you see the head St. Catherine, it just has a much bigger impact.

I feel like I can recall text better and I feel more comfortable with history. This is an academic summer program. It’s not just an excuse to wander around Europe. You get to experience another place and you absorb and learn about the culture. You are taking classes and actually learning something instead of just being a tourist. You are actually engaging in a bigger experience than just a vacation.
What was your favorite thing about each city? What was your favorite city on the program?
Athens – I really liked the food. I was surprised by how much I really liked Greek food! Rome- I really liked how everywhere you walked there was something of historical significance and the whole city is just beautiful. I could wander around and get lost and then just find my way again and it wasn’t stressful, it was beautiful. Florence – We did a gelato tour, which was really cool.

At night our instructors took us around to all these famous gelato places that had specific flavors, unique only to that gelato store and we got to sample all the different kinds. It was one of our last night and just a really fun way to spend the night together as a group. 
Paris – I would definitely say dinner under the Eiffel tower. My favorite city would probably be a tie between Rome and Paris.
Did you like the size of the program? Did everyone get along?
I thought the size of the group was perfect. All of the friends I made and everyone I met seemed to know what they were doing academically. They were all really similar to me in that they like history and they were there because they were really interested in what the program had to offer. Everyone was just really nice and we all seemed to be coming from the same place. I still talk with a few of my friends from the summer.
Were you satisfied with the amount of free time you had?
Yes, I thought it was perfect. On Western Civ we had a lot of planned activities and I could use free time to tap a nap or just relax. We would go and hit museums or go to a certain area and be given time to walk around. We would go on an excursion and then be given free time. We went to Versailles and we got to go explore Versailles and a part of history, not just let loose and be told to be back at the hotel before dinner. When we were given free time, it was in a historical area or to rest.
Did you think the program was well organized? Did the staff work well together?
Yes definitely. We would ask what we were doing and we even had a schedule, but the staff threw in some fun surprises, which was great. I loved knowing what was doing and it was never out of control or anything. The program was very organized. Also, I thought the staff worked very well together. Our director Emily was really great, just incredible. She fit in so well in every city that we went to and I don’t know about the rest of the group, but I just felt so safe when traveling with her because she could speak every language so well and she just emulated control and she really knew what she was doing.

Chris, our professor was really smart. He is probably one of the smartest people I have ever met in my life and he’s funny. When he would teach us, he would present information in a way that was silly and modern and I could better understand it and retain what I had learned better. Then there was Hannah the photographer and I feel like we actually became friends!
When you look back on the trip is there one memory specifically that sticks out to you?
The Parthenon. When we first hiked up and I saw it, I will never forget that. Also the Eiffel tower.
Do you feel the Western Civilization program met your expectations? 
Yes definitely! I have been recommending it to people when they ask me about my summer. I tell them about my experience and give them Abbey Road’s name.