Kate Kosmicki - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I was inspired to go abroad by the food and the chance to experience new things. I really wanted to try new food. I love trying new foods wherever I go and going abroad is a great way to try different and authentic food. Also, traveling abroad gives you the chance to experience things and see things you never would imagine. I was amazed by some of the places we saw, like the Duomo and the Vatican. If you have the chance to travel abroad, take it!

Why did you choose Travel for Teens?

I chose Travel for Teens (TFT) to travel to Italy with because the summer before I traveled with them to Scotland and Ireland and my sister went with them to Costa Rica. I originally chose them because of the wide variety of trips. I loved seeing all the types of trips that someday I could go on.

Also, Travel for Teens offers the trips by grade not age. This is nice for me since I have a summer birthday in August and I am young for my grade. Many other trip groups offer trips by age, often excluding me from high school trips, even though I was going into high school. I would highly recommend TFT.

Cinque Terre, Italy
The view from the hike in Cinque Terre

What was your favorite part about Italy?

My favorite part of Italy was probably the food! The food was amazing in all the cities we went to. I had the chance to try food in restaurants and in small shops and markets. In Rome, I had some very good pasta and pizza! In Florence, we had truffle pasta and other varieties of pastas, along with being able to choose what we wanted in the giant Florence markets. In Cinque Terre, most people, including me, got their world renowned pesto pasta. And finally, in Venice, I had some amazing seafood risotto and ate some fresh fruit from their farmer's markets. In every city we went to we tried all different types of gelato too.

What made your experience abroad unique?

My experience was unique because of the amazing trip leaders and fellow travelers that I went with. I traveled with an amazing leader named Ruby and a counselor in training named Sarah. Ruby and Sarah were organized and knew about what we were seeing. The students that normally go on these trips want to go abroad and learn about where they are going. The travelers, at least the ones I have traveled with, embrace the new culture and do not complain.

Students sitting by the fountain in Piazza di Santa Maria in Rome, Italy
Group Pic!

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The trip leaders are very organized and nice. They know what they are doing and know about the country. Sometimes, they would let us decide where we wanted to go next, how much time we wanted to spend there, and where we would eat. The leaders were open so that if anyone had a problem, like homesickness, you could come and talk to them.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I think I would have spent a little more time in Italy. I would have loved to have spend more then one day in Cinque Terre and Venice. If we spent more days in Cinque Terre, I think we could have visited more of the cities and done more of the hikes. And in Venice, we could have visited the glass blowing island. I would have also loved to go to Pisa or Naples. We had a bus stop in Pisa, but never got to see the Leaning Tower. and Naples is just a place I would have wanted to see.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

A typical day would begin with waking up between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., depending on the activity. We would have a set time to be out our rooms and be eating breakfast. Usually we would eat breakfast at our hotels. We then would set out for our activity that day, whether it be seeing the Duomo or going to the museum.

Once we started to get hungry, we would find a place to eat lunch. These places were often small sandwich shops and markets. After lunch, we would either continue our activity or start a new one. After we finished the activity, we would then sometimes have some shopping time. This is when we could browse the local markets and try to find things for ourselves or our families. We would then head to dinner. Dinner would usually be at a restaurant that was prearranged. After dinner, we would find a place to get gelato and either head back to the hotel to hang out or get some more sleep, or hang out somewhere, like the Spanish Steps.

Students outside the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy
The group trying to make pyramid in Florence

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I would like to go explore the street vendors and markets or find a small cafe to eat at. For free time, we would have a set area we could explore and have to be in groups of three or more. I loved looking at all the street vendors artwork and cool knickknacks. It was also fun to find a small cafe to rest and hangout at. At the cafes, we could order some amazing coffee and try some Italian pastries.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

On this trip we stayed at two places, one in Florence and one in Rome. They were both close to the activities we were doing, but not so close it would be loud. We stayed in smaller family run hotels where we would share rooms with two or three people. We all had our own twin beds to sleep in though. The rooms were nice and we did not spend much time in them. The food was okay at the hotels; it would often just be cereal or little pastries. I found that this would often not fill me up, but we often would get a snack before lunch. Besides that, the hotels were nice.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

I think everyone should have an open mind and be ready to walk. If you go in without an open mind, you will miss a lot of the great things this trip has store for you. Also, be prepared to walk. We would often walk to most places we went unless it was to another city. I did not find this an issue, but I think other people might.

Now that you're home, how has your time in Italy impacted your life?

This has impacted my life a lot! This trip allowed me to broaden my thoughts of the world by interacting with locals and observing the culture.

Friends overlooking an estate in Tuscany, Italy
Looking out of the beautiful estate in Tuscany

Would you recommend Travel for Teens to others? Why?

Yes, I would recommend both Travel for Teens and Ciao Italy! Travel for Teens is a great provider. They set up everything for you in advance so you don't have to worry about anything. This trip is so much fun and a good way way to see the main cities of Italy. This trip is perfect for first time travelers and experienced travelers. Overall, I would highly encourage you to do this program, or another one from Travel for Teens.