Girl Scout program helps student experience life abroad

Camping, selling cookies, and badges are things that people normally associate with Girl Scouts. Though these activities are usually at the forefront of what people assume a Girl Scout is, there is a lot more to it than the normal stereotype. It provides opportunities that are not normally available to people. Freshman Emma Turner got to experience one of these opportunities this summer when she ventured on a trip to Europe with other Texas Girl Scouts from the last week of July to the first week of August.

“I wanted to go because I wanted to see as much of the world as possible, and this was a great opportunity,” Emma said. “I got to see more of the world and learn more about different cultures, and that’s what I wanted.”

For two weeks, Emma traveled to Europe through the Girl Scout program including London, Adelboden, Paris, Lucerne, Florence, Rome, and the Vatican. The Girl Scout program also provided means to earn money for the trip, reducing the financial burden.

“[To raise money, I sold] Girl Scout cookies and we also threw a Halloween party for younger Girl Scouts and earned a couple hundred dollars through that,” Emma said. “ We had different stations planned. We had mask decorating, a haunted house station, pumpkin decorating, a snack station, and the girls could freely go through them as they wanted to. It took a lot of planning and a lot of hard work, [but] it was a lot of fun.”

For Emma, though, there were other difficulties besides earning money for the trip. Once they arrived in Europe, the Girl Scouts also had to face challenges in unfamiliar territory.

“I traveled as a lactose-intolerant person, which means I got a lacto-free card anywhere I went because we traveled in a group,” Emma said. “In Europe, they aren’t used to having dairy free dessert, which means everyone else would get dessert, and I would get fruit.”

Other cultural factors also created another level of complexity during the trip.

“You had to know what was considered rude and avoid doing those things in other countries,” Emma said. “For instance, when you walk into a shop, you say hello. We also learned basic hello, goodbye, how much is, and we talked a lot about the local politics.”

On the trip, Emma was able to experience several things unique to the locations and culture like visiting the opera house in Paris and taking a ten-mile hike through Switzerland.

“We went sightseeing just like any normal tourists and got to see anything that you’ve ever seen on Google,” Emma said. “My favorite sight was the Opera House in Paris because of the beautiful architecture and knowing the history of it. I also got to dance around in it.”

Though the urban areas of places like London and Paris mimicked American cities in many ways, there is still a uniqueness to each in the history and culture.

“I was always told major cities like London and Paris are really dirty, and they are, but I feel like their authenticity overpowers their grime,” Emma said. “They’re still beautiful even with all the trash around. [I also had] the realization that Europe has no personal bubble, and you just have to get used to that.”

Even though the people Emma met were all from very different backgrounds, they were still able to find common ground and get to know each other.

“The Europeans immediately knew that we were from America.” Emma said. “If we told them we were from Texas, they knew what Texas was and pretended they were riding a horse and were like ‘Oh, you’re from Texas!’ I feel that even with the meanness going on in the world here, there are friendships, and that’s nice to know.”