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Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Take Students Abroad
Subtitle: Remember that they are kids. Their gutter minds are worse than ours. Well, yours maybe, mine just got worse with age. 

54 days. I live off of Rte. 54. Route 54. Ashland. Randolph-Macon.
I think that is where we will be headed...

Step 1: Passports. Ok, so because some stupid asshats at the DMV decided back in the day to hand out driver’s licenses like candy we Americans now have to have passports to BREATHE or go to Canada (Hence the Hot Pants stalking for me is limited to Stargate Cons and Twitter). Therefore, the most important venture in this little quest is to  secure the children this very important form of identification. Here is a nice little website to help you:  USE THIS. DO NOT PASS GO. YOU CANNOT GET THEM AT WALGREENS. I state this because I have taken students abroad and had a parent argue this with me.  

Step 2: Have the students pack accordingly, which pretty much means always always always make them have a swimsuit. Always. Even if the schedule and the tour guide swear you do not need them because what is going to happen is that you are going to get to a river in France, the bus pulls over and the guide suggests you take a swim. And the teens will start to get nekked. FOR.REAL. As you frantically try to negotiate how much clothing they need to leave on. Honestly, I am not sure how I did not get fired. 

Step 3: Make your expectations of travel VERY clear. Case in point: Tour buses, don’t let them sit coed for 12 hour overnight trips. Teens do not care. Bitches will make-out, or more...and the last thing you want to be responsible for is the next episode of teen mom.  Don’t believe me? Just ask ONE band director, or better yet a choir director. You.Will.Be.Shocked. Also, prep you students in advance not to announce any life changes on planes over the Atlantic i.e. don’t come out, publicly, thousands of feet above the sea. Yes, sweetie, I love you and I am so glad we are still in touch but do you realize the heart attack you gave me? That’s why you owe me that free room for my next Con. 

Step 4: Warn them of food differences, in both name and menu.  Sometimes you just need to ASK what something is, because the kids are not going to. Here is a piece of Canadian trivia - apparently in parts of Ontario they are not called Chicken Nuggets but called Chicken Balls. We discovered this on my senior year marching band trip to Toronto. Here’s how it went down:

Band Director: Ok guys, the menu for us is posted, pick before you get in line. 
Student C: Mr. F? That says Chicken Balls. What are Chicken Balls? 
Band Director: I dunno Balls of Chicken?
Band Director: What? ( <------- THAT was your first mistake teach)
Student B: I am trying to figure out where the balls are on a chicken.
Student A: Chickens are female, they don’t have balls. 
Student C: Roosters do. 
Student B: Hey _______ your dad raises chickens, do roosters have balls? 
Student D: I am not eating ANY animals testicles...what is WRONG with Canada.
Band Director: (through his teeth) Order the damn cheeseburgers.

Step 5: Avoid three hour tours. Not only was this a BAD idea for Gilligan (No old jokes, I watch this on re-runs on Nick at Night) but there is not city in the Universe that is that interesting. Except for, well, maybe Toronto. Got another band trip story....I’m just making Marching Band look so good aren’t I?  Let’s play this little dialog out for you as well. 

Student B: I’m going to sleep because if that woman says ‘amalgamation’ one more time I may scream. Scoot over, I am leaning on you. 
Me: Whatever
Student B: (Leans over on me - goes to sleep) 
Me: (45 mins later) OW! Get up your heavy...
Student B: Is it over yet? (Looks out of window and LEAPS from seat) OH MY GOD IT’S A CONDOM SHACK!!!! 
Entire Bus: (Leaps from seat running to window - faces pressed to glass)
Tour Guide: BLAH BLAH BLAH Amalgamation BLAH BLAH
Band Director: Honestly, I have no clue what he said, I think he just gave up.  

Oh and I am NOT making this up: SEE!!!

Step 6: And while we are on the topic of driving, let’s talk about Italian drivers and how you need to avoid them. At all costs. They are INSANE. Like, special kind of insane. In fact, if you can, get a tour bus to drive you around because they are prepared for this. Got another story. Stuck in Italian traffic jam, which is pretty insane because the car are literally touching one another. So, I was sitting with our tour guide, having a very lovely conversation about a certain apple alcohol that we all know I love when all of a sudden the entire bus shook. Leaping to his feet, our tour guide raced down the steps of the bus, ordering in Italian for the driver to open the door and proceeded to hang out of the somewhat moving bus and scream at a very angry man in a tiny Italian that was ramming our bus and swearing right back. Honestly, I was kinda terrified, but it was also so hysterical that I just started laughing as the man in the car started to climb through his window and beat on the bus. Moral of the story: Don’t drive in Italy. EVER.

Step 7: Know where you can get medical treatment. REAL medical treatment, not the cute little Italian old lady who wants to buy your sick student who is literally turning red and is running a fever in the middle of Florence and no one can understand why you are speaking Spanish well and without an accent trying to get help and would rather ask you how you learned to speak Spanish than listen to you, great, the kid is throwing up again, hun go lay on that bench while I try to find, yes ma’am, thank you, thank you so much for the gelato, yes I am sure it will help.  

No worries. She was ok. I let her sleep on the bench and then took her to see David. I think David would fix anybody. 

Step 8: Make sure your students understand that two things will happen in crowds: 
  1. Someone will NOT be wearing deodorant. And I am not talking like how I am a little ripe after a run, but I am talking about like they would never be able to find the aisle in the supermarket and the stink is so bad you want to lose your lunch. Oh, look at that pretty cloud, breathe in, breathe out. Now hold your breath. 
  2. Gypsies will steal you blind. I am not trying to say nasty things about gypsies, but I have SEEN them hand someone their baby while their three year old picks a pocket. Put your money in your bra or other under garments because since no one is wearing any deodorant anyway a little boob sweat isn’t gonna hurt. So, the answer to your question is, I TOLD you this would happen when we were back in Spain sitting on my roof. I am NOT buying your gelato. 

Step 9: Ok, looking back at this blog, don’t take students to Italy or Canada. No good will come of it.  

Step 10: Go to the Corte Ingl├ęs. Buy Manzana Verde. Like FIVE BOTTLES. Put the children to bed. Tape their doors so they cannot make sexy time. Go out onto the veranda. Find Tour Guide. Drink. Sleep. Repeat. 

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