In a few weeks' time English Evenings will be going on their third city trip! This time we're heading over to Amsterdam - just a few hours' by car from Mons. Even though we're not going to an English-speaking country, we'll still have plenty of opportunities to speak English to each other. These trips provide us with the perfect occasion to get to know each other a little bit more and to spend some quality time with people we might only get chance to spend a few hours with every month or so.
Before every trip, there's always a little bit of anxiety for me. Last year, as we were preparing our trip to Dublin, I saw the list of attendees grow gradually until we hit the final number: 18. 18 people going off for a weekend together, some of them good friends, others merely acquaintances. If I'm honest, the thought of wandering around an unknown city with a rabble of people was one that scared me. Experience of travelling with groups of people in the past had told me that things tend to move slowly and that a lot of time can be spent simply dithering. As a big group, you often spend more time deciding what you're going to do than actually doing it. I was also worried that we wouldn't end up spending that much time together as a group. Perhaps everyone would be on different schedules, wanting to eat at different times, or perhaps they would all have different ideas about how they wanted to spend their time in Dublin.
As it turns out, there was really no need for me to be worried at all. Somehow, everything just seemed to work out.
During our weekend in Dublin we managed to fit a lot in. We did a walking tour, listened to live music, drank in pubs, went on a bike ride and even went to a leprechaun museum! We didn't spend every minute of the trip together as a group but I realised that sometimes it's necessary to have some free time during which people can split off into smaller groups and do what they want. It's good to have some structure but the whole weekend doesn't have to be planned down to the very last minute.
I think our second trip, to Edinburgh this time, was even more of a success. This time there were 25 of us! The same fears I had before we went to Dublin came back and this time with a vengeance. In Edinburgh we had places to be and things to do! We had signed up to attend a ceilidh and had booked to do a couple of walking tours around the city. Once again, my fears were unjustified. Everything worked out just as I hoped it would.
I think that the key to the success of these trips is really the people. Organising the English Evenings has allowed me to meet so many great people and I feel lucky to be able to share these experiences with them. On these trips, every single person brings something different to the group and when you bring all of those different ingredients together you have the recipe for success! It's because of them that these trips have been so enjoyable and stress-free.
So, thanks, guys! And I can't wait for our next trip together!