As our busy October season has come to a close for another year and all schools have returned home safely from their trips, so have our employees who accompanied them.
Among them were two new members of the team who joined us in 2019 – Matt, a Tour Coordinator based in our UK office and Anna, a Tour Specialist based with our logistics team in Tallinn, Estonia.
The best way to help our employees understand the intricacies of the business is for them to join a school on tour and experience it first-hand. Where better to start than with our most popular destination, Russia!
Although this was Matt’s first trip to the country, Anna grew up there and has formed her own understanding of her motherland. They both had similar schedules and visited the same historical places, so let’s see how different their adventures and overall impressions turned out.
Anna Linask (joined TCBC in September 2019)
“Even though it is impossible to say that I had no idea what to expect, I still was very surprised by the way that my own country was presented to the British teenagers.
I joined John Henry Newman School on their 6 day trip to Moscow and St Petersburg and every day I was lucky to be on a learning curve with them. Thanks to the professionalism of our guides, they knew exactly when to expand on one or another historical fact and when to give students extra time to digest the information.
I looked into their itinerary hundreds of times before the tour, but I could hardly imagine how it would feel to return to the hotel after a long day full of new knowledge and positive emotions. Neither could I know how useful this trip would be for a new TCBC staff member (such as myself). Only after seeing it all from the inside, I feel comfortable to plan such trips in terms of logistics.
It is not always easy to know what is best for this or that school, and this is especially visible after going on a trip myself, but since I constantly watch my colleagues doing their best to find excellent solutions, I gained the confidence that I will be able to do it too.
Apart from the professional side of this trip, I generally had a wonderful time with John Henry Newman School and was lucky to meet and travel with such lovely people. This truly was a sort of magic to see my own country through someone else’s eyes and I am sure that I will cherish those memories for my entire life."
Matt Bell (joined TCBC in February 2019)
“I experienced my first trip to Russia together with Horsforth School and Headington School visiting both major cities - Moscow and St Petersburg. On our first evening in Moscow we visited Red Square, which left quite an impression and was arguably one of my favourite moments of the entire trip. Whichever direction you looked in there was something brightly coloured and imposing to catch your eye and was a great introduction to the country. Throughout my three days in Moscow, I learnt about many pivotal moments in Russian history, a subject I knew little about before the trip and therefore found very interesting. I also tried some famous Russian cuisine, experienced the busy city traffic and observed the fascinating contrast between new, modern Moscow and its old, historical roots.
After an overnight train to St Petersburg, which was quite the experience in itself, it immediately struck me how much more relaxed and laid-back the city seemed compared to Moscow, with a more familiar, almost European feel to it. The city is filled with wide rivers and bridges, along with a striking mix of architecture, from modern, boutique shops to 250-year-old palaces. The Hermitage museum was one of the highlights for me and although I didn’t make it round all 3 million of the exhibits on display, the overwhelming collection of art, sculpture and design from around the world was amazing to see.
My time in Russia was an exciting, educational and cultural experience I will never forget. It was great to see how the trips I’d spent months putting together actually played out and the knowledge I gained will be invaluable to me going forward. It was also nice being able to put a face to a name and to meet the teachers I’d spoken to numerous times in the run up. Having mainly worked in office-based travel roles before joining TCBC, with little to no physical interaction with clients, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone on several occasions and tried to experience the trip to the fullest. It was humbling to see students’ reactions to their excursions and just how much fun they were having throughout, which is the most important thing at the end of the day. Russia was unlike anywhere I’d ever visited before, and I look forward to returning some day.”
What each member of our team noticed at some point is that such a trip appears to be the best medicine against prejudice and wrong beliefs. When people get a chance to experience a foreign country such as Russia in their teenage years, they not only expand their horizons but also develop tolerance and deep understanding of foreign cultures. Russia might be a cold place with a controversial history, but it definitely has a warm heart opened to all visitors regardless of where they come from.