By Rita Nicholson
A vast world exists outside the front door. Countless countries offer many different types of cultures, languages and forms of nature.
Education First Tours, commonly known as EF Tours, is an organization that enables students to explore the world outside their home. EF Tours offers a variety of tours to places ranging from Australia to Japan to Costa Rica.
Senior Natalie Craig took advantage of the opportunity and traveled to Costa Rica over the summer.
She said, “Costa Rica really made me appreciate traveling. The entire experience was amazing.”
Spanish teacher Mrs. Lana Coverdale also visited Costa Rica last summer. She reflected on the trip as “wonderful” and “incredible.”
According to Craig and Coverdale, the tourists on the trips did many activities, such as zip-line, hike through a rainforest, white water raft and spend time with local children.
One obstacle Craig and other students faced was somewhat of a language barrier because Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish. However, they didn’t let that stop them from trying.
“The people in Costa Rica were also very excited to hear us trying to speak Spanish even if we failed miserably,” Craig commented.
Craig also mentioned a Spanish phrase that stood out to her: pura vida.
“Everyone native to Costa Rica would always use that phrase. It means pure life, and I thought that really represented who they were. They wanted to live their lives and be happy,” she explained.
The United States isn’t always like that, according to Craig. Here in the US, people are not as concerned about the present.
Craig compared the two cultures: “…everyone [in the United States] seems very caught up on tomorrow and don’t take the time to appreciate today.”
These differences hold true in other countries, especially when it comes to table manners. Olivia Watson (11) remarked on the differences that she noticed while on tour around Europe last summer between the United States, Paris and Germany.
She said, “One thing that really stood out to me was table manners and food. Every country was different. Paris was very classy, while Germany was a little more relaxed at the table. In the United States, we rush through everything, never taking a second to talk to each other, just trying to eat as quickly as possible. In both Paris and Germany, people took their time to talk and eat. The biggest difference was eating itself. In Paris, you have silverware laid out in a specific way for specific dishes in a specific order. In the United States, we just use whatever we grab first, including using our hands.”
Coverdale described how traveling and experiencing different cultures will affect how one sees the world.
“You’re never gonna see things the same way again. Your perspective has changed and you’ll always see things differently,” Coverdale explained.
This proved to be true in Watson’s case. The tour put into perspective the humanity of everyone across the globe.
Watson said, “I realized that people in other countries may have different cultures, but everyone is still human and still the same, no matter what stereotypes say.”
Craig also talked about how Costa Rica affected her. She said that the experience changed her perspective of others. She also stressed that one should go on a tour if possible.
“You might as well go on a tour. If it’s EF Tours, I can confirm that they will do their best to keep you safe and comfortable. You never know if you will get the chance to go on this trip again, so go while you can. Enjoy the experience,” Craig said.
Coverdale also offered advice to someone debating on whether or not to go on a tour.
She simply said, “Do it. You’re not gonna regret it.”
Several teachers occasionally offer tour groups at SHS, including Mrs. Couch, Mrs. Walton and Mr. Matheis. More information can be found whenever those teachers are hosting a tour.