On Sunday, 29th January, Harrow International School Shanghai’s inaugural international trip departed from Pudong Airport, destined for the Italian Alps. Our group of nine students, from Years 5 to 10 met late on Saturday night looking the part in their customised Harrow hoodies and carrying suitcases which were, for the most part, bigger than the students themselves!
After our flight to Milan, we took a bus to Aosta, the city at the foot of the gondola leading up to the picturesque ski resort of Pila. Pila, year in year out, receives many awards for the quality of its pistes and the safety of the resort – a perfect place to lead a school trip!
After having our boots and skis fitted, we ascended the mountain on a very windy road. At the top, we were ravenous for pizza and pasta and Gallagher’s Bar did not disappoint. Once our tummies were filled, we checked into our ski-in-ski-out hotel. This was a privilege as school groups are not normally allowed to stay here. We ventured back down the mountain in the gondola to explore the beautiful Roman city of Aosta. Ruins in the city are over 2000 years old.
Our first night in the hotel was a carbohydrate feast followed by an early night. Conditions were set to be fantastic on our first day and nobody wanted to be tired. For the following six days, we were surprised by the varying weather conditions. (Pila has always been a bluebird hotspot – blinding sunshine and startling blue skies). This year however, we went from a white-out to a bluebird in minutes. We also skied in heavy snow, improving further the snow under-ski. On the last day, powder at the top of the mountain reached our knees, very unusual for Europe.
On Monday night, our first après ski activity was bowling. The following night, we stayed at the hotel and students went swimming. We had inter-house “shoulder wars”, holding breath, one-length swim races and aquatic gymnastics. On Wednesday, the party animals amongst us ventured to a disco where all the schools across the valley go to dance the night away. However, an early departure due to some very tired bodies at 9.45pm was required! The next night was Pizza Night (just in case we hadn’t had enough by this point!). We ended the evening with many games of Uno and Heads Up. We made a tailor-made deck with terms and anecdotes from our trip and much fun was had by all.
On our last evening, our instructors came to our hotel to present the students with their certificates and badges, for the level of skiing/snowboarding they had achieved by the end of the week. All of the students made phenomenal impressions across the resort and the hotel – we were forever stopped by strangers to say how well-behaved the students were and what fantastic ambassadors they were for Harrow. The group challenged the instructors to a game of Heads Up – sadly the instructors defeated us!
Our last day of skiing was awesome, with loads of fresh snow, beautiful sunshine and endless smiles across the group. After skiing, we headed to Aosta to buy souvenirs for our families and, of course, to eat more gelato! This time, we managed to visit the Roman ruins.
The trip was a perfect example of the calibre of students we have here at Harrow. We travelled half way around the world after only being open for 20 weeks and the students did so well, displaying amazing manners, attitude and determination. They truly have spread the word of Harrow to Italy and beyond. We cannot wait for next year’s trip!