US election: Bangor Grammar pupils reflect on their trip of a lifetime
As we pack our bags and prepare to leave Washington DC, we are able to sit down and begin to appreciate what we have been a part of during this amazing week in America's capital city.
They say that all great things must come to an end, and that could not be truer for this trip.
Coupled with breathtaking monuments and fascinating encounters, our 'winter vacation' as I like to refer to it, has been one which we will all never forget.
School trips are always memorable occasions, but I have a feeling this journey will be remembered as a particularly special one.
ABOUT THE STORY
- Pupils from Bangor Grammar School in County Down have travelled to Washington to experience the excitement of a US presidential election
- School Reporters will be sending back regular updates on their trip, offering their perspective on the race for the White House and their experiences along the way
It is quite easy for people to point to New York or Los Angeles as the greatest cities in the USA. You have to travel to Washington to know there is a another competitor.
With over half a million people living in the city, it is hard to believe that the metropolis that we now know was built on a swamp to try and deter people from staying. It really is a busy, busy place.'DC oozes politics'
DC oozes politics. Everywhere you turn you know you are in the presence of a powerful and authoritative city. The majority of people who work in the city are employed in government in some way, and this excited us.
The thirst and knowledge that everyone in the city had for politics left us in all awe (and I thought we were passionate in Northern Ireland). The buildings towered high above us, and it became the norm to hear police and fire sirens flying past.
It is something us boys thoroughly enjoyed; a bustling and thriving city is certainly a far cry from the coffee shops of Main Street, Bangor in Northern Ireland.
We couldn't have chosen a better time to visit DC - of course this was no coincidence. We were all able to soak up the election in every way possible, through the buying of newspapers from the side of the street, to the manic street celebration after Tuesday night's events.
We have all left (I hope) with a better understanding of American politics, society and its rich culture and history. We have visited enough museums to last us a lifetime, but it is something which all the boys and teachers have found both fascinating and informative.
We have done so much walking we'll all be asking for walking shoes this Christmas!
The scenes of jubilation after President Obama's election win was something we had never witnessed. ”
The metro system was a new and sometimes daunting experience of travel, but I like to think we are all now masters of the underground. This didn't of course come without its tests, with two boys becoming stuck on a train on our second day. Don't worry though, we were quickly reunited!
If visiting amazing places such as the White House, the Pentagon and Congress buildings was not enough, we had the opportunity to partake in engaging and enjoyable question and answer sessions in St. Albans Boys School, the Irish Embassy, the Northern Ireland Bureau, and of course BBC offices in Washington itself.Starstuck
Meeting BBC News presenter Huw Edwards outside on the street left some boys somewhat starstruck!
When I sat down to think about what my highlight of the trip was I found it very hard as we had done so much, so I chatted with the guys about their views.
Some said the thrilling basketball match, the vast and remarkable monuments, the visit to the breathtaking National Cathedral and the visit to former President George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. Some even said the food.
But the one event which kept popping up was that of Tuesday night at the Democrat election party. The scenes of jubilation which quickly engulfed the streets after President Obama's election win was something we had never witnessed.
It did not take long for us all to become involved with chants and conga lines outside the White House. Our barely audible voices the next morning was something I am sure the teachers treasured dearly!
Washington has certainly left us with many amazing memories, which I am sure will last us all a lifetime.