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History in the USA

S5 History & Modern Studies visit the USA
  • Senior School

Over half term, our S4 and S5 History & Modern Studies pupils went on the department's first ever excursion to the USA to support their learning and development. They had a packed itinerary and learnt a great deal as they experienced all the top sites and made some wonderful memories together.

Head of History & Modern Studies, Mr Chaudhry gave us an insight of this years expedition and why it was such a memorable trip:

“After an arduous but largely hassle free journey to Washington DC, we arrived on US soil for the initial leg of our trip. The first thing we noticed was the clement weather, with which we were to be blessed with for the duration of our stay in America. Once we filed off the flight, the plan was to set off for Arlington Cemetery…however, that didn’t quite go as seamlessly as anticipated! By the time we had got through customs, the cemetery was due to close in 45 minutes! Fortunately, our bus driver knew exactly what we were in need of and drove us to the Pentagon Mall Food Court for some welcome ‘non-aeroplane’ food. We arrived back at the Harrington Hotel in central DC with just enough energy to unpack before bedtime.

The next day started bright and early, and after breakfast we were off to the White House Visitors’ Centre - a museum of Presidential memorabilia. Whilst we were there, we were offered tickets to the White House lawn, which was a rare treat. Before this, we made our way to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (via the National Monument), which was fascinating and horrifying in equal measure - there was a celebration of the cultural, scientific and political achievements of African Americans: the likes of Tiger Woods, Prince, Michael Jordan as well as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. The exhibition at the bottom of the museum brought to life a lot of the Civil Rights struggles we had studied in National 5 History. Next, we were off to the White House lawn, where we learned another lesson for the future: don’t try and bring a water bottle through security. Despite the loss of about 40 water bottles, the experience was amazing, and we got right up close to the White House itself; all whilst the Presidential brass band was belting out some Sousa classics.

We tried to cover as much of the National Mall as possible. Having made it to the Capitol Building, we discovered the Circulator bus service, which saved us a very long walk to the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial. We made it back home with minutes to spare before our evening meal at the Hard Rock Cafe.

The following day, we packed our luggage into the bus, checked out of the Harrington and headed to Mount Vernon (George Washington’s estate). After an interesting morning, and a chaotic lunch, we settled back on the bus for the 5 hour drive to New York.

On arrival we headed straight to the highly anticipated Empire State Building. The views from the top were outstanding, especially at night. We also briefly crossed paths with the S4 group who were due to head to Washington the next day. After the buzz of being ‘on top of the world’ (literally!), we climbed back down and had a bit of a ‘scramble’ to try and find somewhere to eat - the ‘city that never sleeps’ appeared to have taken the night off!

The next day we were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the most vibrant city in the world. We headed to Battery Park and took the ferry past Liberty Island to Ellis Island. The immigration museum on Ellis Island was a stark reminder of the sacrifices that desperate people would make to try and create a better life for themselves and their families, and seems especially resonant today. We followed this experience with lunch at a fantastic food court in Downtown New York before splitting up into groups - one visited the 911 Memorial Museum while the other explored Greenwich Village. The evening comprised a meal at Bubba Gump, and the sights, sounds (and smells) of nighttime in Times Square.

Our last full day was a bit more relaxing. We started by getting the subway to Brooklyn, and then walked across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge towards Wall Street. After lunch, we travelled Uptown to Central Park for a pleasant sunny afternoon. After dinner, we headed to Broadway to see Beetlejuice the Musical which was hugely enjoyable, and one of the real highlights of the trip.

The final day began with a guided tour of the UN Building, and then we had just enough time for a trip back to the top of 5th for some lunch and shopping before heading back to check out of the hotel. The journey home was lengthy, but generally hassle free (apart from one lost boarding pass!) and we arrived in Glasgow on Thursday morning for a swift coach ride back to school where our families were waiting for us. 

This was an excellent trip with so many high points and lasting memories, as well as a fantastic opportunity to visit so many of the locations we have studied in History and Modern Studies.

  • History and Modern Studies
  • Senior School