The first time I made a trip to Europe I was part of the Young Singers of Callenwolde. I had just finished the 5th grade and was equal parts excited and scared to death. There were a lot of us little singers on this inaugural trip of the "Friendship Force" where my parents hosted a woman from Newcastle while I stayed with a family there. The first issue of the trip was that in England "Kim" is commonly a boys name. The directors had told the host arrangers that their "Kim" was a girl, but they had forgotten to tell them the singer named "Cookie" (yup, his name was Cookie) was a boy. The original family could not take us both, so I was sent to a different family.....alone. Now, we have reached the scared part. Alone, with a family I did not know, who were very different from my family was very difficult. But, they were so sweet to me and tried very hard to make me feel comfortable. This first experience taught me that culture is very important in the travel experience. When we visit a new place, we take personal items to help with our comfort. However, we should also eagerly seek to expose ourselves to the people and their ways. My rich history of travel has shown me that culture is the one souvenir I love to bring home. Ciao !