This past summer I went on the Eastern Adventure tour with Rein Teen Tours. Trip of a Lifetime (TOAL), however, gave me the opportunity to go on this tour. I found out about TOAL through my sister who went on another tour about 4 years ago. The day she came back from her trip and told me about her experience, I knew had to apply to TOAL. After getting into the program and finding out what tour I was going on I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to meet new people and do things I’ve never done before. I was also nervous. I didn’t know if people would like me, if I would make friends or if I would enjoy my time. I questioned it a lot. As time went on and the day came for the tour to start I didn’t really feel nervous. I wasn’t questioning anything, I was just happy to be there and excited for everything that was about to happen.
A few days into my trip I had already made some friends and I was having a lot of fun. One of the most memorable places we visited was the second stop of my tour, Niagara Falls. It was my first time going and it was absolutely beautiful. We went right next to the fall and we got so much water on us but it was fun and amazing to be next to something as incredible as Niagara Falls. After Niagara we went to Toronto and spent a lot of time at Canada's Wonderland. It’s an amusement park and it is one of my favorite stops. I’m a roller coaster fanatic so this was perfect for me. I went on the Leviathan, Canada’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster. To say the least, it lived up to its title. Speaking of titles, I got to go to Maine and watch the Great Maine Lumberjack Show. There were competitors and they were split between the green team and red team. I was on the red team but my heart was with green team (and green won so in a way, I won too). Skipping a few days later, we are in Boston. I have always loved Boston, mostly because of all the schools they have there but this trip made me love it even more. We got to see Shear Madness. It’s a murder mystery, whodunit type of show. I have never laughed so much before. I recommend people seeing it and if I could see it again, I definitely would. The acting and improv was fantastic. The show is also very interactive, so the audience had an opinion and could make comments, ask questions and etc. It was truly an amazing experience. While at Boston we went on a Duck Tour (where I received many duck tour stickers) which gave us a nice tour around Boston. It was informative and the tour guide was a very funny man, it made the tour even more enjoyable. After a flight to Nashville from Boston and seeing the Grand Ole Opry (which made my group become obsessed with an upcoming country singer and her music) we drove down to Pigeon Forge. The two most memorable things at Pigeon Forge was zorbing and the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. The alpine coaster was great and we got to control it at our own speed, of course I went the fastest a person possibly could. Zorbing was a thrilling experience. My friends and I (there were three of us) got into this huge ball called an “Ogo Spaceship” (it was at a Gravity Park) that had water in it. We got rolled down a hill and it was amazing. I was laughing, recording myself struggling to talk and just having a lot fun. Our next stop was Atlanta. I must say Atlanta is a very beautiful place and also has a lot of traffic. While I was there I got to try over 60 different flavors of Coca-Cola products. There was one called Beverly, personally I am not a fan of it so my friends and I had a bunch of people on the tour taste it. Most of us did not like it and the reactions to it were hilarious. That day we also played Whirlyball. It is a combination of bumper cars, lacrosse and basketball. It sounds intense and it was. It was very competitive and entertaining trying trap someone in order to steal the ball. My favorite place on the entire trip was my second to last stop, Savannah. I had the most fun there and Savannah is known to be pretty haunted. The first day we arrived we went on a ghost tour. Before the tour however, my roommates and I had some weird stuff going on in our room. The fan, lights fan and AC were all acting weird. Needless to say, I could not sleep in the room peacefully. Anyway, the ghost tour was actually really interesting. I learned a lot of facts and heard some stories that make me want to investigate more into them. I’m pretty sure a ghost kicked my phone out of my hand on that tour too. So if you ever go on the tour, be cautious and have fun. The next day we got surfing lessons. I’m not saying I’m a pro, but I am one in training. It was exciting and a bit scary the first few times when I tried to stand up but I got over that fear pretty quickly and just went for it. Fortunately I caught a few waves and a lot of salt water. Our next and final stop was Orlando. I was very happy to be there and excited for all of the fun however a part of me was sad because I knew it was going to go by quickly and would mean my tour is over. However I pushed that thought aside and enjoyed it. On the first day out of three we went to Disney World’s Magical Kingdom. I must say it truly is magical. I got to ride Space Mountain which is an indoor rollercoaster and it lived up to its reputation (which is good). At the end of the day we all watched the fireworks go off. I have never seen something so beautiful. It was a sight to see. The second and third day was spent at Universal Studios. Most of the rides were indoor, 3D coasters. However there were 4 rides that stuck out to me. The Hulk, Revenge of the Mummy, Red Rockit and lastly Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Those four rides were spectacular. I have rode all of them multiple times. However my most memorable time at Universal was getting to try Hogwarts Butterbeer. I have no regrets, it tastes so sweet and I wish I could get it any time I wanted because it was that good. I am going to try and recreate it so let’s hope it’s as good. After Universal was over we all split up the next day to go home. I was definitely a bit sad because for the 24 days I was there. I grew very close to some people and enjoyed their presence. The trip was amazing, it was worth all the effort put into getting in to TOAL and I would do it all over again if I could.
After reflecting on how my trip went I have learned that first off, you can make friends with anybody and it’s a small world. Everybody was pleasant and kind to one another and people grew very close to each other. In addition to that, a lot of people lived close to each other. Many of my friends are a short drive away, closer than what I thought. The most important thing I learned, which is also what I want to help give back to my community is the opportunity and knowledge. I learned that not many people know about this program and many others that I have had the opportunity to be a part of. If I didn’t have the knowledge and never applied to TOAL I don’t think I would have ever done even half of the things I did this summer. That is why I want to use the knowledge I have and any knowledge I gain in the future to let people in my community, my peers, that they can have these opportunities. It will require some work but in the end it will be worth it. What you gain from this is more than the effort you put in to get there.