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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Old friends, new places- Seniors will part with lasting memories in Europe

Seniors Sophia Ajanee, Caitriona Costello, Puck de Roos, Amanda Moriarty and Anna Sabel share a tradition that has lasted five years: each Christmas, they gather at Moriarty’s house for a dinner party that features an extensive menu, long chats, a white elephant gift exchange and bizarre movies.

Their Christmas tradition adds to the countless memories and inside jokes the five friends have shared since their friendship began in middle school.

As they now transition to the next segment of their lives, the five seniors will also travel together for the first time, spending part of their summer in Europe before heading off to college. In the span of two weeks they will tour Madrid, Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam.

The seniors share fond memories from Saratoga Elementary School and Redwood Middle School. Moriarty laughs as she recalls meeting Sabel in fourth grade when they were sharing their favorite animals with the class, and Sabel revealed her favorite to be the saber tooth tiger.

“That can’t count! It doesn’t exist anymore,” Moriarty joked.

Meanwhile, Sabel remembers getting to know de Roos through the middle school’s leadership elective in eighth grade.

“I distinctly remember us arguing over who got to hold the ball cart key when we took it out for that class,” Sabel said.

Since then, the five friends have bonded through trips to the movies, the mall and the beach. As graduation approaches, however, they are reminded that soon it will take more than a quick drive to see each other. Sabel will attend Brown University, Ajanee will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Costello will attend Cornell, Moriarty will attend the University of Notre Dame and de Roos will attend the University of California Santa Barbara.

This led them to plan their senior trip, which was first brought up by de Roos. She stays at her family’s house in Amsterdam each summer and thought it would be fun to invite her friends.

From there, the idea expanded to a tour around Europe with Amsterdam as just one of the destinations. They eventually narrowed down the list to the four cities in Europe and began booking flights in December.

The five friends are set to visit famous landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, and to savor plenty of local food. Though they had originally planned to stop by some smaller cities, they changed their minds in favor of more unscheduled time to be able to decide what they want to do along the way.

“We wanted to spend more than one or two days in these places, to get a feel of them,” de Roos said. “We want time to adjust and be able to see everything instead of rushing everything and not having time to enjoy ourselves.”

Sabel feels that the appeal of their trip lies in the cultural immersion. She enthusiastically lists the activities she looks forward to, which include getting “real, fresh French bread” and seeing the beautiful canals and tulips of Amsterdam.

“I [would love to see] the sights that other people live with everyday and learn [the locals’] quirks and traditions,” Sabel said. “It’s also always fun to try to pick up new languages, though [de Roos] once tried to teach me two sentences in Dutch, and I promptly failed at it.”

For Sabel, the trip will be especially memorable: She has never traveled outside of the U.S. Her parents were initially apprehensive at the thought of five 18-year-old girls going alone on a large trip to Europe but eventually warmed up to the idea.

“My friends and I will be careful. [De Roos] has also lived in the Netherlands and knows her way around pretty much all of Europe, so it is very reassuring to have her with us,” Sabel said.

Out of all of the destinations, Sabel especially looks forward to visiting art museums such as the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Van Gogh Museum. She “fell in love” with San Francisco’s Legion of Honor — the first art museum she has ever visited — that her AP European History class visited in April.

“There is just no way to compare the art that you see in person with the photographs you see in a textbook,” Sabel said. “I have always been a little bit of an art nerd, but seeing art of such magnitude was surreal.”

Despite her excitement, Sabel, along with the rest of the group, has not forgotten that this is the last time they will see each other regularly. According to de Roos, the trip is a chance for them to have one last time together before they separate for college.

“I’m really looking forward to all of the fun nights we’re going to have, [as well as] being with them all the time and for so long,” de Roos said. “[The trip is] mostly about being with them until they leave.”

Still, Sabel is optimistic about their relationships. She said that the friends will always remain close and compares their bond to that of siblings.

“I am incredibly sad that this will be the last time I really see my friends, but we have always been an adventurous group and are ready to take on new things,” Sabel said. “Change is scary, but I know that we will continue to be there for each other as we make the transition to college.”

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