Lange Gang Travels to Eastern Europe

Sahuaro Students Experience Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Krakow, & Auschwitz


Lange Gang in Eastern Europe Summer 2016

Laynie Tharp, Creative Contributor

The summer before my senior year of high school. The air is crisp, my mindset is better than it has ever been.  It’s the night before my two-week long adventure and I still haven’t packed.  After three agonizing plane rides and an entire ocean, we’ve landed. Germany. Home of the bratwurst and Berliner Dom. A two-day experience where most of us had a bunch of firsts. First bratwurst, first out of country experience, first time being away from home for this long. Maybe it was actually great, or maybe we were just exhausted, but there isn’t anything like that first day. It was so sweet; it was a true happiness that none of us had ever felt before.

From Germany we went onward to Prague, and from Prague we traveled to Krakow, Poland. We thought nothing could ever be better than Germany, until we visited those 2 places. These Eastern European cities are easily the most memorable of the entire trip. In Prague we watched soccer games with a bunch of locals – all rooting for Poland, of course- and when Polska won, we went a-wall. That was the moment when I knew that I would cherish these moments with these people for a lifetime. We all sat there, huddled together so close we were sweating, holding hands for the final moments of the game, watching the final kick in unison, and in that moment we were not just together, we were whole. Nothing in my life up to this point compares to what it was like to feel that way while visiting all these significant places that we’ve only ever read about in books.

I spent all of the tour through Auschwitz and Birkenau coming to the awakening realization that these things have actually happened. It’s so easy to read and learn about our history, but to step foot in the place where it all went down – it’s a rather rude awakening. It hit me like a ton of bricks. But honestly, if no one had ever taught us what happened there, I would’ve had no idea. It was so beautiful. There were flowers growing in cracks between slabs of cement steps and gravel. There was grass sprouting in between train tracks. The once barren fields were covered in trees so tall and full, they separated the camp from the realm outside of it. From there we stayed in Poland which only continued to be beautiful. It rained the whole time,but as it happened, I continued to fall in love with Krakow.

Lesley Cole, Ms. Lange, Laynie Tharp, and Gabi Rodriguez on Danube River Cruise in Budapest
Lesley Cole, Ms. Lange, Laynie Tharp, and Gabi Rodriguez on Danube River Cruise in Budapest

From there, we traveled to Budapest, Hungary; the pearl of the Danube river. And that it is. Walking around Budapest was the most wonderful thing; my favorite part was the culture. Even though tourists were plaguing the streets, neither Buda nor Pest seemed to lack it’s true heritage. There were markets everywhere, and I feel no shame in saying I visited all of them. I bought paprika, and have used it to cook since then (best decision ever, by the way) and honestly Budapest holds a place in my heart for not only their incredible spices, but for the fact that through everything becoming more “Americanized,” if you will, there is an underlying feeling of home that rests there heavily. This trip was truly memorable. I will cherish all of it forever. The food, the foreign-ness of it all, the people I met, the shops I found, the way being outside of my home country brought me the most powerful sense of stability, and the history. I don’t think I will ever learn anything as well as what I learned on this trip.


There are 3 truths; you find out more about yourself in places that are unfamiliar to you, always try the food no matter how ugly it is or how weird it smells, and that Europeans really, I mean REALLY, love soccer. Ms. Lange, Mr. Chandler, Mrs. Bouchard… Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. From all of us. I will hold onto this experience forever.