On the final Friday before February half term, a group of forty Rhetoric students and five teachers made their way to Heathrow (at the crack of dawn) in order to catch their flight to New York City. After a smooth flight and plenty of snacks on the aeroplane we landed safely at JFK International Airport. Mrs Towns made an estimate of an hour in the immigration queue, however it took us almost two hours to get to baggage. Eventually, we were on the coach headed to our hotel taking in all the sights of New York on the way.

Once arriving at the hotel, located in Times Square, we sorted out our rooms and were given a short orientation of the hotel and the city. For the rest of the first day we were allowed to explore the city and were captivated by the views.

After a well-deserved sleep and a delicious breakfast at the hotel, we took the subway to the Staten Island Ferry. We spent the morning at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, two important historical landmarks in America. This was followed by a tour of the Financial District where we saw many significant buildings and statues. The ‘Fearless Girl’ statue stood out the most to me due to its message of female empowerment. We were given the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Museum, an immensely emotional and informative experience of the events that struck the city. Voicemails the victims left for family and friends of the attack were moving. After this, we ended the day by taking the subway to Chinatown and Little Italy. We got to share in the culture of both places and enjoy the brilliant food.

The following days we continued to explore the city. We visited numerous places; Ellen’s Stardust Diner (the most entertaining breakfast imaginable), ‘Top of the Rock’ where we were able to overlook the city and admire the views, ice skating at the Rockefeller Centre, 5th Avenue with endless shopping options, Central Park and ‘The Edge’ arguably the best view of New York City. On Sunday, we attended a Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral. The homily was especially interesting and the mass was a serene experience.

We were lucky enough to see a Broadway show, with a choice of Chicago or Back to The Future. I watched Chicago and I can say the show proved to be just as enjoyable as it is described to be.

Guided tours of the UN, Hershey’s and Madison Square Garden were all included in the trip and were all remarkable in their own ways. It was almost unbelievable to be in the UN and walk through the Security Council, General Assembly and various other places where important world decisions are discussed and made. Hershey’s granted us free chocolate and sweets which we all accepted happily. During our tour of Madison Square Garden we were fortunate enough to see the Texas Stars’ players on the ice practising for their game that same day. Their clear dedication, and our previous ice skating session at the Rockefeller, allowed us to acknowledge the difficulty of their sport.

On our final day, following the tour of Madison Square Garden and some free time around the city, we made our way to the airport to catch our overnight flight back to the UK.

The trip was genuinely incredible. Not only did we do so much, but the independence granted to us made the overall trip experience even better. We are grateful to the teachers that planned the trip and I know it is one we will always remember.

Abisah P