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Adventures in Europe

Posted 12/17/2015 by Olivia Fullerton

photo by Anja Oss

Students prepare to travel to Germany, France, and Switzerland in 2016.

Thomas Jefferson Spartans prepare to take on the unknown, venturing through Germany, France, and Switzerland in July 2016 as part of a trip sponsored by the Education First (EF) program led by social studies teacher Victor Godoy and special education teacher Jenn Sonheim. Students will have the opportunity to embark on the experience of a lifetime, spending nine days in some of the most beautiful countries within Europe.

While visiting all three countries, adventurous Spartans will see many significant places. In Paris, France, students will visit several landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre, and the Latin Quarter. Additionally, students will visit Normandy and see the beaches where D-Day occurred, as well as the local American Cemetery. In Switzerland, students will be able to continue their outstanding experience by visiting Lucerne, Lake Lucerne, the Lion Monument, and the Chapel Bridge. Briefly, Spartans will travel to Neuschwanstein and see Neuschwanstein Castle. Lastly, in Munich, Germany, students will visit Olympic Stadium, Residenz, and the BMW headquarters.

Students will be lead through the EF program, which focuses on giving educational tours for students all over the world. The departure date window is between July 11th and July 21, 2016, while the  corresponding return date window is July 21st through July 31st.  However, tour choices and departure dates are flexible to match with other groups. EF excels in group travel because it keeps tours affordable, allowing more students to see the world. Students who go on the trip are responsible for spending money, tips, and their passport, along with other personal items. The total cost for the trip is $3,585.00; however, there are payment plans available to make the trip more affordable. There are options to pay $291.00 a month, or $10.00 a day, and additional plans to work with individual students if necessary.

Sonheim stated that she is excited to go on this trip in particular and “loves going to Europe because everything is so beautiful and different; there is art everywhere.” The objective of this trip, besides having an unbelievable time, is to align with school curricula to bring subjects, people, places, and events to life. EF strives to promote understanding, cultural respect, language learning, and global citizenship, along with sharpening communication skills and being able to navigate and adapt to new experiences.  

EF puts safety first, and is extremely educational; it even includes an EF Peace of Mind program, which is automatically included and will provide students with alternative arrangements if social unrest or natural events occur that would make travel unsafe. They have program offices located in several countries around the world. In addition, they are fully credited and the planning and organizing of tours are done by travel experts with much experience. The tour’s goals are for the participants to tap into each other’s strengths and passions, and to put a more personal lens on the experience. As an additional benefit, high school or college credit can be earned.

Having participated in trips similar to this before for Italy, England, Ireland and many more beautiful countries, Sonheim explained, “It is so amazing to go and try new experiences.” She recommends that students sign up as soon as possible in order to partake in this unique experience. Students must apply online ( before June 30, 2016. There is still time left to enroll, so Spartans are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible.