During the spring of 2008, my senior year of high school, I was fortunate enough to participate in a Magellan travel program to Greece.  My school’s Mythology teacher trusted Magellan to plan the trip, and despite the fact that I was not taking the class, I was able to join in on the adventure...

...Although I was fairly used to travel by that point; vacationing around the country with my family, summer sleep-away camps, road trips and the like, I had been to Europe only once before, on a short trip with a friend’s family.  I was excited to visit Greece, but a little apprehensive to be going with such a large group of students; most of whom I barely knew.  However, I soon discovered that one of the great benefits of travel is that it cements friendships.  Since everything was planned for us and there were none of the typical stresses associated with touring far from home, such as reservations, transportation, and finding dining locations, all of our time was free to be spent enjoying the experience with our peers.

 

The trip was impeccably organized, and as a result we were able to fit more travel, sightseeing, cultural immersion, and exploration into our 12 days than I would ever have thought possible.  We were introduced to various elements of local culture, and saw the country simultaneously as students, tourists, and at times even felt like old friends returning for a visit.  The connections Magellan had established enabled us to take part in Greek school events, be welcomed by friendly locals, and even be treated like family by various merchants and restaurant owners.  While on the island of Paros, we were invited to visit a pottery workshop where the owners gave us a private tour and demonstration of their technique.  To this day, I use the beautiful white ceramic coffee cup that I purchased from Studio Yria, a famous ceramic maker.  Something else that I particularly enjoyed was that our guided group tours were often followed by free time to explore, in small groups, what we found of particular interest.  It was great to have the comfort of structured time as well as the thrill of opportunities to venture out on our own; a wonderful stepping-stone for developing confidence and comfort in going abroad.

 

My travel experience in Greece was an incredibly formative journey for me, one which aided in my personal development and reinforced my passion for ancient culture.  I went on to study Art History and Classical Civilizations at UCLA, an education which, thanks to my Magellan experience, I was able to supplement with my own direct knowledge of ancient sites.  While at UCLA, I volunteered my time at both the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa, again dealing with artworks about whose proveniences I knew firsthand.  After graduation, I knew I wanted to go back to Europe, and thanks to the confidence I had built having travelled already, I signed on to participate in a six week archaeological dig in Italy.  Had it not been for my Greece trip during high school, I doubt I would have had the confidence to go back to Europe, alone, for such a duration.

 

Now, six years later, I am halfway through the Master’s program in Art History at UC Davis.  I have found graduate school to be a very diverse and dynamic place, and I know that my travel experiences in years past have helped me develop the world knowledge, as well as self knowledge, that have gotten me to this point.  Surrounded by so many interesting, educated, and interested people, it is fun to have my own travel stories to contribute, and nice to know that next time I choose to go abroad, I will be well prepared and capable thanks to the foundation laid by my Magellan experience.

 

As a graduate student at Davis, one of my duties includes leading the discussion sections for those courses for which I am a Teachers Assistant.  Teaching ancient art and history has underscored even further the great significance that traveling while young can have.  Not only do I attribute much of my personal development to my own travel experiences, but I see with many of my students the potential that travel has to enhance comprehension of and engagement with the material.  These connections certainly aid in the classroom, and I truly believe they aid in the world beyond academia as well.

 

Arielle Hardy, Los Alamitos H.S Class of 2008

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