How a school trip to New York taught me to be independent

Wednesday September 7, 2016

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When the teachers at Northampton School for Girls (NSG) decided to plan a school trip to New York for their students, they could never have imagined just how much it would teach their pupils. Beyond simply providing context to their learning assignments, the trip offered the girls the chance to broaden their horizons, gain confidence and ultimately become more independent.

Studying a long way from home, the school trip threw up countless opportunities for the girls to take themselves out of their comfort zones, make their own decisions and learn a few life lessons along the way. Here are some of the key highlights from the trip that saw the students grow as individuals.

Want to read the full story? Check out the Northampton Girls’ Tour Diary in New York

Taking on a new city

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Whether you’re exploring somewhere close to home or discovering a place further afield, navigating your way around a new city is sure to pose a few challenges. For the girls at NSG, being left to their own devices in New York certainly required a level of responsibility and awareness that’s not usually needed when roaming their familiar surroundings of Northampton.

“We had the rest of the morning to explore the delights of the park and the surrounding streets, most notably the famous 5th Avenue. We all had a fantastic time; some of the highlights were the ‘Friends’ fountain, Bloomingdales, FAO Schwarz (the oldest toy store in America) and purchasing some iconic pop culture merchandise.”

 

A whole host of skills were required throughout the trip, from managing their own time to keeping track of their money. Furthermore, having the opportunity to explore without being under the watchful eyes of parents or guardians gave the students a level of independence they may not have otherwise experienced.

Life lessons

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As many of us know, as we get older, most of us also become a little wiser. That said, to gain these new found pearls of wisdom, we’ve usually learnt from past mistakes. As the students at NSG found out the hard way, buying snacks, or more specifically ice creams, from vendors outside key tourist hotspots isn’t a particularly wise move:

“However, little did we know that a great mugging off was about to commence. We were bought our ice creams; each of the students lining up one by one, adding to the tally. The ice cream man's smile was growing in delight and satisfaction as he raked in the dollars... ALL 350 OF THEM!!!!! Oh how we were deceived. Post-consumption we realised the ice cream van had no prices on the outside. WHAT BRILLIANT SALESMANSHIP, THANK YOU GOOD SIR.”

 

After their eye-opening experience on day three of their adventure, you can imagine they’ll all be a bit more cautious on their next excursion! However, it wasn’t only their personal experiences that helped them to develop a more well-rounded view of the world; their visits to St. Paul’s Chapel and Ground Zero really brought home the disastrous effects of 9/11, allowing them to gain a whole new perspective as to the magnitude of the event.

Gaining confidence

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Being away from home often provides the perfect opportunity for individuals to let loose, gain confidence and really come into their own. Throughout their school trip to New York, the students’ fun-loving personalities really shone through, from serenading their teachers with ‘Empire State of Mind’ on day one, to engaging in a dance off with Spanish tourists and befriending some of the Broadway show’s cast.

“Upon arrival, we were greeted by some bangin' tunes, so being from a hip, Northants background, we engaged in some much needed shape cutting in the streets of New York along with some delightful Spanish vacationers. The boogying then escalated into a competition between the Spaniards and us Brits. Naturally, the Spanish conceded defeat and the British proclaimed that once again we had won the war.”

Decision making

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As well as the Big Apple throwing up plenty of challenges to deal with, the teachers at NSG also provided a few opportunities for the girls to experience being independent. Allowing them the chance to have their own input into the itinerary, the girls had the opportunity to decide what they wanted to do one evening, as well as having to factor in what the rest of the group wanted.

“Then, a huge decision was proposed: to return back to our humble New York abode (AKA Holiday Inn Express) for relaxation or to visit the fabulous Times Square once more? An even split between the choices saw all have a smashing ending to their third day in the Big Apple.”

 

Giving students free time during their trip is a great way to get them feeling more independent, not to mention being great practice for when they have to manage their own time in the future.

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If you’d like WST to organise a tailored school trip to New York for your students, get in touch with one of our specialist team members who will be happy to help!