When we found out that we had won the trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg we were absolutely ecstatic. It was a shock to win though we knew our video was very good! We then spent the next two months completing the video so that it could be ready in time for our trip away. As we left school we were not quite sure what the next day would hold in the European Parliament and the general feeling was anticipation but we had a long journey ahead of us before we set foot in Strasbourg. We arrived at terminal 2 at 2.45 and our flight to Frankfurt was due to leave at 4.50. We fed ourselves as we knew that there would be no food until the next morning and quickly took in the shops before boarding. It was a nice flight over and we arrived 10 mins ahead of schedule. Due to the traffic around Frankfurt we had 30 mins to eat again before we would be getting on the coach. When we got on the coach we had a two-and-a-half-hour journey before we would be in Strasbourg. The journey on the autobahn seemed to fly by and accompanied by the live concert from some of the girls it was a pretty good bus journey. The first comment made about the hotel, Ibis Styles, was that the outside looked like a petrol station the way the price of the rooms was displayed. We got given our room keys and headed up, all absolutely exhausted by the long day and we knew we had another long day to come. The rooms in the hotel were perfect and we woke at the early time of 6.45 to get ready and go down and eat breakfast. The coach left the hotel at 8.10 and we travelled to the European Parliament. The seemingly short journey appeared longer due to the extensive amount of traffic lights on the streets of Strasbourg. The journey gave us our first look of Strasbourg in daylight and though there were many buildings one after another the detail around the windows and incredible architecture was very noticeable. On arrival at the European Parliament the first thing that struck me was the sheer scale of the building and the size of the flag poles out the front of the building. The security going into the building was like that of the security in the airport. We were then escorted to a briefing where we were told what would happen throughout the day and received stickers which we had to wear with our names and the country that we were representing on them also. We then went into the restaurant where we could get tea or coffee or hot chocolate to set us up for the day. We were then brought into the hemisphere by symbol groups; I was in the diamond group. The groups were decided as to what topic you had picked to talk about in the break off groups in the afternoon. We were seated in the MEPs seats and the session then began. The first part of the day was an introduction to each of the 24 schools who were representing their countries at the session. Chloe and Sofia introduced us. The next thing that happened was a questions and answers session with members of the EU Commission. In this delegates were able to ask questions which they felt were important to them and look for answers. The members of the EU Commission spoke in Italian, French, Spanish and English so it was very good that we had the translators otherwise I would not have understood anything that was going on! After this we went for lunch in the European Parliament restaurant. Then the Euro game began. For this we each had to get into a team of four with the three other members being from different countries. This was a good way to get to talk to people from different countries and learn about them. In my group there were two girls from Greece and Scotland and a boy from Portugal. The questions on the quiz were in 22 different languages so it meant working together and using each person’s language strengths to answer the questions. We were then taken to a smaller room based on what symbol we were. Here we were to discuss the topic and form a resolution. The title for the arrow group was “What does the future hold for Europe”. We first elected a spokesperson and chairperson for the group. In the whole committee were had to get into groups of 10-12 with a maximum of three people from the one country in each group. In Lydia and I’s group there were people from Romania, Cyprus, Belgium, Greece and Sweden. This was another good way to meet new people. We had to discuss the topic and talk about how we would bring Europe closer to our ideals. This was a nice way to talk about our own opinions and it being in a smaller group it meant that you were more comfortable to share your opinion. We then gave all our ideas to the spokesperson and chairperson and we debated each of the ideas. It was interesting to see what other people’s ideas were and to be able to give your own opinion related to you and your country. It was also a nice way to learn about how other countries worked. A resolution was then formed by the spokesperson and chairperson. We then returned to the hemisphere with our resolutions which were to be debated. The spokesperson sat up the front of the European Parliament and the Chairperson sat in the first row. The chairperson said a few words about how the group got on and then the spokesperson read out the resolution. There was then time for questions to be asked by any other delegates. It was the spokesperson and chairpersons job to answer these questions. Then using the MEP voting system we voted whether to pass or reject each of the resolutions. Our resolution was passed and it manly focused on building international and European schools and on keeping the traditions within countries alive. It was interesting to hear other proposals and what other people our age thought about the future for Europe and the European Union. I was able to ask a question and it was a great opportunity. I now feel very proud to say that I have spoken in the European Parliament. We then had the final of the euro game and Aoife’s team was picked to take part in the final. Aoife’s team then went on to win the final and she received a medal and we were all delighted for her and proud of her for representing Ireland. The European anthem was then played and there was a procession of the European flags by the people who introduced the schools. We then got the coach back to the hotel where we had an hour to get ready before we would be heading into Strasbourg city for dinner. When we got in we were given a meeting point and a two-hour time frame. We must have spent the first 40 minutes looking for a restaurant; eventually we found a wok bar where some of us got noodles. Though not the most French of meals it was very nice and made us all feel much better! All 25 of us ended up convening in McDonalds while we waited for the two hours to be up! The lights in Strasbourg by night are beautiful and it was lovely to walk around the city all light up. We then got the tram back to the hotel. The next morning, we were up early again at 7.00 for breakfast but afterwards we went back to bed for a cat nap! We packed our bags and put them on the coach before getting the tram back into Strasbourg again. After changing trams, we ended up in the old city with the medieval style buildings and the river. This was picturesque and we took the opportunity to take an enormous amount of photos! We then ended up finding a playground where we entertained ourselves, you would have thought we were 6 not 16! We came across small shops and some of us bought souvenirs to act as mementos of the trip. We then got the tram back into the city centre where we had 30 minutes to wander. Some of the girls and I went for coffee and it was good fun. We then got the tram to the train station where the bus picked us up. We had a 2-and-a-half-hour trip to Heidelberg in Germany which included a much needed sleep for most of us before we stopped to discover more of Europe. Some of us took a walk across the bridge. There was a wedding on the bridge and it was awfully cute! We again took a ridiculous amount of photos but they will serve as a record to the trip. We were wandering the streets of Heidelberg when we came across a Lindt shop. After first glimpsing the sign above the shop we made a dash for it. Inside we indulged ourselves and were astounded by the amount of chocolate. I had never seen so much chocolate in the one place never mind it being one of the most amazing types of chocolate! We then returned to the bus with the inevitable thought that we were heading home after a fantastic trip. We had an hour and a half journey back to Frankfurt airport. We arrived at 5.30 and checked in a little while later. After checking in and making our way through customs we had another chance to eat before we got on the plane. After all passports were found and everyone was ready we went through security and then boarded the plane. The plane journey home was comfortable apart from a small bit of turbulence. When we arrived we had a long walk to the coach parking where we once again loaded up our bags and got on for the last leg of our trip. When we arrived back to school 25 exhausted, worn out pupils made their way into cars reminiscing about an incredible trip where we had discovered Europe and learnt a lot about ourselves and others. I would like to say a particular thank you to Mr. Aiken who came on the trip with us. To Ms. Swan for helping us with the video. And to Ms. Malcolm without whom nothing would have been finished and the trip would not have been won. She listened to all our ideas and helped us to get everything we wanted out of the trip.