Last Days in Montreal! – Montreal Pre-College Enrichment

Last Days in Montreal! – Montreal Pre-College Enrichment

On Thursday, the students went to the Cirque Festival on St. Denis Street! The festival had a circus theme with clowns and street performers, and we were encouraged to try some of Montreal’s most unique restaurants along the way.

On Saturday, the students went to La Ronde, Canada’s second largest amusement park. The students, if they were feeling adventurous, could tackle these amazing roller coasters: Le Vampire, Le Monstre, and Ednor. However, if they were looking for something more relaxing, they could go on Splash!, the log ride.

In the evening, we watched 30 minutes of fireworks in the lake in the middle of the theme park. The firework pierced the Montreal sky with beauty and grace, and the Jacques Cartier Bridge was the perfect background for this display. After the fireworks had ended, the students got to watch the bridge light up to celebrate the 375th birthday of Montreal.

On Sunday, Keep Reading »

Exploring Beautiful Naxos & Santorini! – Greece, The Islands, and Italy

Exploring Beautiful Naxos & Santorini! – Greece, The Islands, and Italy

Αποχαιρετισμός (farewell) from Athens! We spent today on a high speed ferry, making our way back to Athens for our flights home tomorrow, but our time in the islands was absolutely magical. The sea breeze, crystal clear waters, and charming towns made it easy for everyone to feel instantly relaxed!

Our first stop was Naxos, where we spent three beautiful days relaxing on the beach and exploring the island town. Our two most memorable activities in Naxos were a scenic bike tour and an introductory scuba lesson. Our trip was split into two groups, and each group took a turn at both activities over the course of two days. The bike tour was led by amazing staff who coached some of our more timid bikers through the journey, and everyone loved the views of the sea as we explored most of the island by bike. Meanwhile, many trip members had been Keep Reading »

The Finale: Florence and Nice! – European Experience

The Finale: Florence and Nice! – European Experience

Ciao/Bonjour!  We’re writing to you from the spectacular city of Florence. We last left you in Sorrento where the group had nothing but appreciation for the majestic sights!

Our trip arrived in Florence and everybody immediately fell in love. We found ourselves quickly running around the city, getting into teams and facing off in an Amazing Race competition. The winning team showed poise, pace and speed, and were treated to some gelato as a reward for their hard work.

The city continued showing us some love when many of the girls enjoyed a delicious heart-shaped pizza at the famous Gusta Pizza. The amazing food got everyone pumped up and ready for the disco, where we took turns dancing on the platform and showing off our moves.

The good times followed us to Monte Carlo where we were in awe of the glamorous sights in the famous city. We couldn’t stop looking in admiration Keep Reading »

Fun with Cowboys and Campsites! – Northwestern Odyssey

Fun with Cowboys and Campsites! – Northwestern Odyssey

After crossing the border into Montana, Color War was announced! The group was split between the red and blue teams and every game was cowboy-themed, of course!

As soon as we got off the bus, the teams raced to see who could set up their tents fastest. The games continued with relay races, capture the flag, scavenger hunts, and more! In the end, the blue team emerged victorious.

While in Glacier National Park, we also enjoyed a beautiful hike up to a waterfall. We were on the lookout for wildlife but didn’t see anything!

The trip packed up and said goodbye to our last campsite and headed to Montana State University. We spent the bus ride playing ‘Name That Tune,’ and everyone on the trip impressed us with their music knowledge! After dinner, we headed to the Bozeman movie theatre. Most of the trip members chose to go see Despicable Me 3 for Keep Reading »

The Culmination of Classes! – California Pre-College Enrichment

The Culmination of Classes! – California Pre-College Enrichment

Our time at UCLA has now come to an end, as we’ve finished the 21 days spent here. During this shortened week of classes, each group finished off their courses with a culminating activity and said their goodbyes.

– Our Psychology class watched Twelve Angry Men and discussed the legal implications of mental disorders, and their final day was spent reviewing everything that was covered during the course.

– This week, our Community Service group took the children at the Boys and Girls Club to a newly renovated park. Every day, they played various active team building games, and we’re very impressed by the relationships that the students have built with these children. Furthermore, the boys and girls had a blast at the end-of-summer carnival on Wednesday!

Full day Community Service made a memento of their time together by painting the picnic table that the Popular Mechanics program had donated to the club. All Keep Reading »

A Trip Through History! – European Discovery

A Trip Through History! – European Discovery

Ciao! Today marks our highly anticipated visit to the beautiful Amalfi Coast! From here on out, it’s going to be scenic coastlines and (as always) delicious Italian cuisine. When we last checked in, we had begun our journey to none other than the floating city itself, Venice. It was a magical experience, as we spent time in the hypnotic maze of canals and plazas, taking in the vibe of the city that had inspired Shakespeare. With mesmerizing glass blowing displays, powerful historical sites, and lazy gondola rides, it’s hard not to be charmed by Venezia. We even started a game of Indian Chief in the famous Piazza San Marco, which attracted more than 40 people!

Having made our mark on Venice, we set our sights on what was to be our most historically-charged city to date: Rome. It seemed as if we couldn’t turn a corner without stumbling upon a statue, Keep Reading »

A Brilliant Start in Maui! – Hawaii Community Service

A Brilliant Start in Maui! – Hawaii Community Service

Hawaii is magnificent!  Everyone arrived from the East Coast, and our first few days were spent relaxing in the sun.  Once we unpacked our suitcases, we packed our backpacks and went to Kahana Beach Park, which was the site of our first pickup football game.  In the end, one final catch in the makeshift end zone broke the tie game.  The blue sea and skies – not to mention the windsurfers in the background – set the perfect scene for another activity: our first photo shoot! Everyone went the distance to get the perfect shots.

The community service component began with the Boys and Girls Club of Maui.  The club director’s voice carried across the staff’s walkie talkies, saying: “Let’s gather everyone for a club meeting. Westcoast is here!”  The members flooded in to receive us – clearly our reputation preceded us and, let me tell you, we didn’t come here Keep Reading »

Ending Our Program Right! – Florence Pre-College Enrichment

Ending Our Program Right! – Florence Pre-College Enrichment

On Thursday, our last day of classes, some students visited a synagogue and the Jewish museum of Florence. Everyone completed their final evaluations and waved goodbye to the Florence University of the Arts. We’re all very proud of our accomplishments over the last few weeks!

In the afternoon, students enjoyed their last free time in Firenze. To end the night on a high note, we had one final group dinner in this city; a three-course meal at a unique restaurant in the heart of the city. Of course, some students made a final gelato run at our go-to location before closing, and we’ll definitely miss it!

On Friday morning, we took a bus to the Tuscan countryside and enjoyed the spectacular views once more. We toured a castle that once belonged to the Pazzi – and later to the Medici – family. We learned that it’s still inhabited by a family related Keep Reading »

Final Days in the Galapagos! – Ecuador Community Service

Final Days in the Galapagos! – Ecuador Community Service

Our last couple of days in the Galapagos on Isla Santa Cruz have been a wonderful end to our 25-day adventure. We finished off our community service with two mornings volunteering at Rancho Primicias, a center that helps breed tortoises in their natural habitat. The center even provided us a delicious lunch, with caramel crepes for dessert! After our hard work of digging holes and planting trees with them, we took a walk through lava tunnels and enjoyed their beauty as we walked through the dark formations. Later that afternoon, we took some time to walk around and explore the island, and many of us used this opportunity to buy some souvenirs.

On our final day of activities, we went to the Charles Darwin Foundation, where we learnt more about the giant tortoises on the island and saw the preserved body of ‘Lonesome George.’ After his death in 2012, his Keep Reading »

Fun in Athens and Naxos! – ON TOUR Greece, The Islands, and Italy

Fun in Athens and Naxos! – ON TOUR Greece, The Islands, and Italy

After a few incredible days in Nafplio, we were ready to head to Athens in the afternoon! After settling in, we went to dinner in the Palatka area which  surrounds the Acropolis. We had a Greek meal as a group, enjoying tzatziki, moussaka, and baklava as well as other delicious dishes.

The next morning, we were off to tour the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Some of the trip members said that this was their absolute favorite part of the trip so far, and loved being able to see the history they’d learned about in school come to life! The view from the top of the Acropolis was absolutely breathtaking, and made for some beautiful photos overlooking Athens. After this incredible tour and trek up the mountain, we spent the night exploring the Palatka area, which is filled with little shops. We saw handmade Greek clothing, shoes, and souvenirs galore; and many Keep Reading »