Expectations and equity: Urban’s Eurotrip culture


Loki Olin

Various European landmarks in France and Italy. Illustration Credit: Loki Olin

Eurotrips have been an unspoken cornerstone of the post-graduation experience for countless past Urban students. Many see it as a time for them to experience the world and spend time with their high school friends one last time before venturing out into the world, but there are certainly some equity issues that arise from the tradition. While not all students go on such trips, those who do spend months planning the two-to-three-week trips that pass through multiple quintessential European cities such as London, Paris, and Barcelona.

Clarke Weatherspoon, Dean of Equity and Inclusion at Urban, pointed out that the trips are “not an Urban activity” and that they are neither sponsored nor encouraged by adults in the Urban community. Because they happen after graduation, it is not the school’s responsibility to have any particular stance on Eurotrips or any of the issues regarding equity and inclusion that they may present. “I wouldn’t want to set up in anyone’s mind that a right of passage for someone graduating from Urban is to take a Eurotrip,” Weatherspoon said.

Current Senior Mookie Corpuz ‘19, however, is able to view this pressure in a slightly more positive light. “[It] gave me an excuse to convince my mom to let me go on a trip,” she said.

Tara Kamali ‘19 has been planning and looking forward to her friend group’s three-week summer trip all year. “It’s a great moment in time where we’re all leaving each other and going to different schools and [can] have this last culmination moment,” she said. “We get to go off into new places, be free of all our worries, and party.”

However, multiple issues arise from these trips regarding who can afford to go. Between lodging, flights, transportation, food and day-to-day expenses, the costs are high, but Kamali’s group has worked particularly hard to keep costs down for their trip.

“I think the idea of a Eurotrip can be something that you’d think would be $6000 or crazy expensive,” Kamali said. However, Kamali and her six friends have budgeted so that each one will be spending $1500, not including day-to-day expenses. She added that going to less mainstream cities in Eastern Europe, like Prague and Vienna, are cheaper and equally as interesting.

Kamali recently got a job and works 27 hours a week to save up money to pay for her trip expenses. “I’m from a lower socio-economic background, and going on a trip like this isn’t something that comes easily for my parents,” she said. “It’s important to keep in mind that going on a trip isn’t something that every kid can do, and paying for a trip isn’t something every parent can do.”

Ben Slater ‘07, English Teacher, acknowledged that while it may be a difficult conversation to have, it is important for many students to question the value of the trip. “What kind of friend groups are you in where you do things that not everyone can do?” he said. “Is it about the friend group, or is it just about some image that you want to put on Instagram?” Slater remembered not feeling a strong desire to go on a Eurotrip following his graduation, although it was just as common then as it is today. “I was sort of drifting away from my friend group… I stayed close to my friends but was sort of tired of the group dynamics,” he said, which made him less inclined to want to take the time to travel with his friends following graduation.

In many ways, going on a Eurotrip is akin to being able to afford lunch on Haight street during school. Many students’ family situations grant them certain privileges that others do not have; however, Urban tries to provide more accessible options in their program, such as financial aid for food at school or on Urban-sponsored trips.

“We try to make [school] trips available for all students regardless of their financial situation, and we set them up so that they can be as equitable and educational as possible,” Weatherspoon said. Eurotrips, by contrast, are completely out of the school’s control.

Yet while most students recognize the difficult situation that paying for a Eurotrip presents for some of their friends, the culture around going on them has not changed. “This is everything about privilege at Urban,” Slater said. “We see how messed up some things are, but we still do them.”