Cuisine trip goes sour, then sweet

Students enjoy cultural experience despite touring issues

A group of agriculture students went on a cuisine trip across Northern Italy this summer, but the trip was far from what any of them could have predicted. From culture shocks to getting home three days late, students and teachers alike experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. 

The journey to their first location, Cinque Terre, was smooth and everything about the trip seemed to be going according to plan. Students said they enjoyed exploring and being exposed to new experiences.

“Our amazing tour guide taught us new things on the bus,” junior Lexi Sherrod said. “She would teach us basic Italian words, hand gestures, and the history of the city we were going to.”

Unfortunately, this feeling didn’t last long as their initial hotel presented the first of many problems. 

“The first night was terrible because of the sketchy hotel,” ag sponsor Kristen Schuler said. “The hotel rooms were hot and three of my students got stuck in an elevator with no way to call for help.”

Trip attendees blamed EF Tours, the organization that planned the trip, for the hotel. As the trip progressed, the travelers felt like EF Tours did not do a good job capturing the “cuisine” aspect of the trip.

“The food that EF Tours organized for us wasn’t very authentic and I feel like it didn’t do a good job displaying true Italian cuisine, especially since that was the point of the tour,” junior Ava Speier said. “We had risotto three days in a row, which was so frustrating.”

EF Tours also made several scheduling errors that left students and teachers feeling unsatisfied.

“EF scheduled us to go to FICO Eataly on the one day of the week that it was closed,” junior Ana Frank said. “It was frustrating seeing all the things to do but not actually being able to do them.”

Despite all the mishaps, travelers still enjoyed seeing the cultural differences between America and Italy. Some students said they felt like they were immersed in the culture and were able to see authentic Italy.

“My favorite part was in Florence when I, and a few other people, went on a walk in the and came across a party full of teenagers singing and dancing to Italian music,” junior Juan Tinajero said. “I really felt like I got to live like an Italian teenager that night.”

Teachers also enjoyed learning about the different ways Italians live their lives as well as seeing their students build new unexpected relationships with each other.

“Not only did I learn a lot about the culture, but I also learned a lot about my students,” Schuler said. “They have many different personalities than I initially thought and to see them become friends with other students on the trip that they would have never talked to at school was nice.”

Students and teachers agreed that even though so much went wrong on the trip, they still had a good time and had unique experiences. As the group sat on the bus on their way to the airport, they reminisced over the trip and looked forward to finally sleeping in their own beds. 

Little did they know that their adventure was far from over.

“Our flight from Rome to London was fine, but once we landed, we realized that we had very little time to get to our next gate,” Ava said. “We ended up missing our flight by five minutes and were told that the next flight wasn’t until the next morning. To top it off, all the hotels were full, so we slept on the airport benches.”

Upon arrival in Washington D.C., they missed their flight once more and remained stranded for another 36 hours. Half the travelers also lost their luggage and were left without basic necessities. 

“The teachers had to go to Walmart to buy us food, toothbrushes, and a change of clothes,” Lexi said. “I really appreciate them taking such good care of us though. They even took us out to see monuments and the Natural History Museum during our day in DC. It was like a whole extra trip.”

While some of the travelers look back on their experience with EF Tours as a disaster, others appreciate the additional time they got with the friends they made along the way.

“I felt like I got really close to lots of people on the trip,” Ava said. “Getting to share an additional adventure with them was so nice.” 

Opinions on EF Tours aside, everyone enjoyed seeing a new country and said experiencing it with their unexpected friends was a blessing. They all recommend traveling if you get the chance, even if EF Tours is organizing it.

“Definitely go on any trips abroad that you can,” Juan said.“And if you go to Italy, go with an empty stomach.”