A group of 30 sixth form students has just returned from a half term visit to New York and Washington DC. During the visit the students experienced many different aspects of the culture, society, history and food of the USA.
The visit started on a very snowy evening in New York which meant that the planned visit to the ‘Top of the Rock’ consisted of rather more snow than view, however the weather improved and two very sunny, but cold, days followed. We took the subway to Battery Park and boarded the Staten Island Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island which included a very informative visit to the Immigration Museum. The views approaching Liberty Island and looking back to the Manhattan skyline were breath-taking. Following this we walked through Lower Manhattan, via the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street to Ground Zero, the September 11 Memorial which was a very poignant experience. The evening was spent watching a performance of ‘Chicago’ at a Broadway Theatre which was a fantastic experience.
On the last full day in New York we visited the Metropolitan Museum and students had free time to view the galleries that interested them most. This was followed by a guided walking tour of Central Park and mid-town Manhattan. Andy, our guide, had some really informative stories about different parts of the park and some of the key buildings in Manhattan including Grand Central Station, St Patrick’s Cathedral and Trump Tower. In the evening students went in groups to shop and eat, and to see more of the sites of Times Square where the hotel was situated.
We left New York the next morning and travelled by coach to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Whilst in Philadelphia there was time for lunch to experience the Phillycheesesteak sandwich and other delicacies and some students ventured as far as the ‘Rocky Steps’. We then all travelled to Washington DC where we were staying in a hotel between the Whitehouse and Capitol Hill. In the evening we watched an ice hockey match; Washington Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightnings. We were all given Washington Capitals T-shirts and threw ourselves into supporting the home team, although even with our support they didn’t win! The atmosphere at the game was incredible and we more or less learnt the rules!
The next day was unseasonably very warm so we had a really lovely day on Capitol Hill. We were given a guided tour of the Library of Congress, picnicked outside the Capitol Building and then had a guided tour of the Capitol itself. There was also plenty of time for students to do their own sightseeing around Capitol Hill and the surrounding area before our evening meal at the Hard Rock Café. After the meal there was still time to enjoy the really warm evening and we ventured to look at the main sights of the city, including the White House, floodlit for the evening.
On the final day we walked down the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial, via the Washington Monument and the various war memorials. It was a very poignant moment to stand on the steps where Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech and to stand at the feet of the statue of Lincoln.
The rest of the day was spent in the Smithsonian museums, the most popular ones being the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of American History and the various art galleries. Students also had time for shopping before the final coach journey to Dulles Airport ready for the flight home.
We arrived back in England on Friday, very tired and with very high ‘step counts’, but full of new experiences and the complete range of American food, having had a wonderful time.