MacTravels takes on Europe

Knights take a school-organized trip abroad for the first time since 2019, visit Germany, Austria, Switzerland


Philip Tudor

Junior Philip Tudor looks out at Lucerne, Switzerland from the top of Mount Pilatus on the summer trip. Students on the trip traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where they explored the Swiss Alps.

Esme Ostrow, staff reporter

Around 60 McCallum students traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland for 10 days this summer, hiking the Swiss Alps, exploring castles, tasting traditional Bavarian food and learning what Europe is all about. Students stepped onto the tour bus after an overnight flight to Frankfurt in awe of the idyllic scenes in front of them. For some, that feeling never went away.

Despite planning and leading the trip, science teacher and MacTravels sponsor Sarah Noack was unable to travel with the group in the end. The trip had been planned since the fall of 2020, and students were excited to hop on the plane to Germany after a three-year, COVID-19 induced, MacTravels hiatus.

“My goal in traveling is to change world views,” Noack said.

I think it’s one of the places where they’re very much still in touch with their history and so that appealed to me.”

— Sarah Noack

Ever since the previous MacTravels sponsor left McCallum, Noack has had free reign over the destinations of these trips. Before, she was limited to trips associated with her subject, science, like with past visits to the Dominican Republic to study marine biology in 2018, and to London to study medical and forensic science in 2019.

Noack is responsible for planning the trips but is accompanied by chaperones during the visits and works closely with tour guides and a tour company. The chaperone-to-student ratio tends to be one to six. Each chaperone is responsible for making sure that their designated students are well-fed, rested and up to date with medications throughout the entire trip. On top of that, Noack explained that she feels responsible for giving the students as much exposure to life in foreign countries as possible and works hard to make the trips worth the money. 

“It’s really important that my student travelers see what the human experience is like in as many different ways as they can,” Noack said.

Numbers for the Germany and Switzerland trip were much higher than in previous years, and Noack believes the pandemic was a major factor in this increase. After months of isolation, families jumped at the opportunity to send their students on a trip. Junior Philip Tudor chose to attend this trip for that exact reason. 

“My parents really wanted me to get to go on a cool trip to a place I’ve never been since I had been stuck at home for so long,” Tudor said. 

I think the school trips are a really cool way to connect with your classmates and get to know people that you don’t usually talk to, all while exploring a place you’ve never been”

— junior Phillip Tudor

Junior Avery Carlisle had a similar experience. Although he had doubts when his mom initially signed him up, he ended up enjoying experiencing an international environment and culture. Germany was his favorite stop.

“The weather and the architecture were very different compared to America,” Carlisle said. 

Tudor, on the other hand, preferred the time spent in Switzerland, especially the tour of the Alps. Although both Carlisle and Tudor savored the highlights of their trip, the two agreed that the plane rides and time difference were the hardest parts of the experience. Tudor hopes to take another trip with MacTravels before he finishes high school. 

The MacTravels program continues to flourish and make arrangements for future opportunities like the Dominican Republic trip in 2023 and the trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in 2024. Although preparation, plane rides and expenses can be an obstacle during any travel experience, MacTravels trips make an impact on students that Noack and the students alike believe make it all worth it.

Contact Mrs. Noack in room 141 or through her email; @[email protected] to find out more about McCallum’s upcoming trips!