Holyoke High School Trip to Europe 2023


Maura Dulude & Alina Fairlie, Herald Staff

Over April Vacation, Holyoke High School students had the opportunity to travel to Spain and France.. Every year, Ingrid Vega sets up trips through Educational First Tours. Ms. Vega gives students the opportunity to see the world, and learn throughout the trip. This year’s trip included many fun activities and sightseeing. They can range from hands-on learning, visual activities, and most of all experiencing a new life.  EF claims to “design tours to help educators teach, and so students can learn more about other perspectives and themselves.”

The biggest difference students noticed when landing in Barcelona is the way of life. You immediately spot people walking, biking, skating, and even riding on scooters instead of driving. The architecture was very different from what you normally see in America. The streets were filled with bright colors, music, and greenery. Many quaint shops fill the streets, giving tourists opportunities to find new trinkets and souvenirs. Also, hearing people speak a new language can be intimidating, but overall everyone was very welcoming. 

Students were given the opportunity to view many historical sites throughout Europe by way of informational tours. In Barcelona, they visited La Sagrada Familia, the largest unfinished Catholic Church in the world. Known as one of the most popular tourist attractions, construction of this incredible building began in 1882 and has been incomplete for over 140 years. This building conveys a great example of modernist architecture designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. 

One might wonder why out of all the buildings in Spain, this is the most popular. In fact, the work of Gaudi revolves around the theme of nature figures. It conveys its message through symbolism and the use of organic shapes and forms. The beautiful building is inspired by nature, making it an extremely exciting tourist experience. 

Another beloved site that the group visited was called Parc Guelle. This colorful, magical exhibit included many different activities to explore. This short commute away makes you feel like you were transported into a completely different city. People describe the city as somewhat Bohemian, which draws in many international artists. The area includes a wide selection of galleries, live music and artsy boutique stores. The most cherished spot is located just up the hill at Guell Park, where Antoni Gaudi’s vibrant and revolutionary art sculptures stand up high, flanked by the breathtaking views of Barcelona.

The group agrees that visiting Barcelona was a memory they will never forget. Looking back on the trip, students were quick to reminisce about their favorite memories. Alina Fairlie, one tourist, stated that “one of the most important parts of the trip for me was the opportunity to meet students from other areas and share this experience with them. Meeting new people can be such a gift and a very eye opening experience, and you create bonds with them…” 

Maura Dulude, another tourist, agreed with her, adding, “I was so excited to be able to travel across the world with my friends, and create memories that will last a lifetime.” 

Brenna Billips enjoyed getting the chance to see the city through biking, noting how the group was able to pass beautiful and unique sights throughout the city. The primary form of transportation in the city are bikes. Because of this, tourists were able to experience a part of their daily life. These are just a handful of the wonderful memories that the group created on the trip. 

After their arrival in Paris, the group visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame, a strong example of French Gothic architecture. The cathedral is currently shut down due to a fire that occurred in 2019, but is set to reopen in 2024. 

Students also had the opportunity to visit the Palace of Versailles just West of Paris, which is a former royal residence built by King Louis XIV. This famous world heritage monument houses the Hall of Mirrors, Royal Apartments, the Chapel, Royal Opera, and its gardens. They were led on an educational tour through the palace and learned about French royalty. 

Following this, students toured the Louvre, a national art museum in Paris. It is home to incredible artworks, such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. 

The students are extremely grateful for this life changing opportunity that has been offered to them by Ms.Vega. Holyoke High plans to make a trip to Greece in April of 2024, open to Juniors and Seniors. See Ingrid Vega in room 223 for more information.