2024 Ursuline School Spain Cultural Journey

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2024 Ursuline School Spain Cultural Journey!  We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting program so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The first page, Pre-Enrollment, is meant to share exciting details, highlights and pertinent info that participants will want to know before enrolling. Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page, is meant to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information on the appropriate page thoroughly and we can't wait to start our enriching adventure!
Travel Dates: March 27, 2024 - April 4, 2024
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,590 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $900

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
March 27US - MadridToday the group will travel from the USA to Madrid, Spain, arriving the following day.Airplane
March 28MadridWe'll arrive in Madrid and settle into the hotel after the long day of travel. Later, we'll hold an orientation meeting to discuss the upcoming trip in details before heading out to explore our neighborhood and have dinner near Plaza Santa Ana.TOC Hostel Madrid
March 29Madrid - GranadaToday we'll visit the Prado museum, to admire the collections in one of the most impressive art museums in the world. In the afternoon we'll stroll through the Retiro Park, once the king's personal refuge, and ride iconic boats along the lake. Then we'll head to Granada, home of the world famous Alhambra.Monasterio Basilio
March 30GranadaWe'll have a guided tour of Alhambra, one of the most photogenic places on the planet. Afterwards, we'll have some free time to wander through the old quarter and attend a flamenco performance in a cave above town this evening.Monasterio Basilio
March 31Granada - SevillaWe will start our day attending to Easter Mass in one of Granada's famous cathedrals, before our departure to Sevilla, stopping on the way to hike along Caminito del Rey, a truly unique and breathtaking experience! We'll arrive in the afternoon to Sevilla and have a dinner of delicious tapas.

In the evening, we will have a chance to attend another Easter Mass, or observe local Easter celebrations at the world-famous Catedral de Sevilla.
TOC Hostel Sevilla
April 1SevillaThis morning we'll explore the city, including the impressive cathedral where Christopher Columbus is buried. After a lunch of tapas we'll go up to the "Setas de Sevilla" to take in the impressive views. In the evening we'll prepare our own authentic Spanish dinner in a cooking class!TOC Hostel Sevilla
April 2Sevilla - CordobaThe adventures continue as we make our way to Córdoba, once the capital of the Moorish empire. En route, we will stop at an olive farm to learn about olive oil production! Upon arrival, we will take a walking tour with a local guide to learn about Cordoba's place as the confluence of culture and religion in Southern Spain. Albergue Inturjoven
April 3Cordoba - MadridAfter breakfast we'll take a train from Córdoba back to Madrid, passing beautiful countryside scenery. In the afternoon, we will write letters to self and have a final reflection about our time in Spain. We'll have our last traditional Spanish meal tonight to cap off an excellent program!TOC Hostel Madrid
April 4Madrid - USAToday we will head to the airport to catch our international flight home. ¡Hasta luego!Your own bed, eventually!

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Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
TOC Hotel Madrid

TOC is a spacious and hip hotel located in the heart of Madrid, just minutes away from the metro and major tourist attractions. This is a modern and hi-tech hotel with a friendly staff and a great breakfast! Travelers will have their own beds, distributed between double, triple and quadruple rooms. 

 

 

Monasterio Basilio

Monasterio Basilio is located in the center of Granada and provides an ideal location from which to explore the city. This cozy hotel can accommodate up to four students per room with ensuite bathrooms and the quirky aesthetic that defines this hotel makes for a memorable stay.

TOC Hostel Sevilla

TOC Hostel Seville is situated in an exclusive modern building at the heart of the city and is surrounded by the main places of tourist interest. This is a modern and hi-tech hotel, includes security technology with fingerprint room access control system, 24/7 Reception, , safes for your personal belongings and other features, such as free Wi-Fi, bar & restaurant, kitchen, main living room, and a playroom. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Albergue Inturjoven Córdoba

Cordoba Inturjoven Youth Hostel is located in the heart of the historic centre of Cordoba. Only two minutes from the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba and within the old Jewish quarter, this youth hostel is ideal for exploring the prime monuments of the city. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.

Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel can be unpredictable.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list but you know yourself better than we do so please adjust accordingly. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on daily outings, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The list below should cover everything you would need, but know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with.  We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.

Finally, we recommend consulting a weather forecast for your destination. 

Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT!

CLOTHES (quantities depend on your trip length) :

  • Underwear
  • Socks (a mixture of good active socks and casual socks)
  • T-shirts (some quick dry)
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Sweaters or sweatshirts
  • Warmer jacket
  • Warm hat
  • Scarf and Warm gloves (optional)
  • Rain jacket
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • Comfortable, everyday pants
  • Nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions)
  • Durable athletic/walking shoes
  • Sandals (optional)
  • Hat

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

  • Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Band Aids and Neosporin
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Power Converter
  • Alarm Clock and watch
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • 1 quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Deck of cards or other portable games
  • STUDENT ID
  • Spanish/English Dictionary

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Kelsey Shawgo
Kelsey Shawgo
Spain Country Director


Loyola University of Chicago – B.A. Spanish, Minor in Psychology 

Born and raised outside of Chicago to two avid travelers and teachers, Kelsey has always had a passion for exploration and education, which also led to an interest in language. In fact, her first jobs and volunteer opportunities were as an assistant teacher, translator and interpreter. The opportunity to attend a youth leadership conference in Cuba and a study abroad semester in Spain during university cemented her desire to start a life abroad. She has been living in Madrid for ten years and is currently teaching English to Nursing and Physical Therapy students at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas. In her spare time, you can find her exploring new places with friends and family, doing yoga everywhere she can, listening to too many podcasts and desperately trying to add more languages to her repertoire.

Gabriel Duncan
Gabriel Duncan
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Colby College – B.A. International Relations and Government

While at Colby, Gabriel spent a semester in Spain at the University of Salamanca studying contemporary Spanish politics and Spanish language. He also lettered for four-years on Colby’s lacrosse team and earned All-American honors. After graduating, Gabriel hit the road. He fished commercially in Alaska, taught in Chile and China, led programs for students in Spain and Costa Rica, and traveled to over 50 countries and all 50 states in the USA. Regardless of where Gabriel is located, he is constantly haunted by his naive faith and unconditional love for Denver sports teams.

Hillary Mora Vargas
Hillary Mora Vargas
Country Director


Escuela Liceo la Virgen; Escuela Chilamate

Hillary was born in Sarapiqui, a small town with a rich culture in the heart of Costa Rica. Growing up in Costa Rica gave her the opportunity to be in touch with nature and in close contact with animals in their habitat. Since an early age she was passionate about exploring the world and everything in it, but it wasn’t until she finished high school that she realized she loved to teach and communicate to others about the environment and the world we live in. Since then, Hillary has worked as a guide in nature reserves in the region she grew up and has also directed collaborative environmental education projects with students, including some of her own design. Hillary currently resides in Galicia, Spain, where she lives with her partner, and continues to pursue her passion of exploring the world and helping others to do so as well. She currently works in local tourism and facilitates programs for Walking Tree Travel as the Spain Country Director.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

Blog and Communication

During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

 

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1.  Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of, or are consuming, or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety.
  4. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Threatening physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
  4. Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
  5. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  6. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Spain website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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