I’ve had many wonderful holidays, but my favorite memory is that of a few summer weeks spent in Italy when I was about 13. My mom had to go to a clinic there for treatment (nothing severe or worrisome in any way, thankfully), and we all went together as a family and took the opportunity to have a beautiful vacation as well. Why this is my favorite holiday memory is because, besides the fact that it was the first time abroad for me, it was a vacation that has broadened my perspective, taught me a lot, and helped shape a bit of who I am today.
Although we did visit many famous places in northern Italy, we stayed mostly in a little town where some friends of my parents lived. While all the renowned attractions in the country were, indeed, marvelous, nothing immersed me in the Italian culture and nothing helped me understand the locals’ Latin spirit better than my stay in this picturesque, almost magical town that many haven’t even heard of.
At 13, I was quite a shallow girl who was interested mostly in having fun with the girls – and not much else. Thanks to the holiday spent in Italy, I also discovered my passion for music, which stayed alive in me to this day and will probably stay forever. My parents’ friends had a son, Ricardo, who was a pianist. While dad had repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to make me study an instrument (and stick to it), when I heard Ricardo play, I instantly fell in love with music and felt a great desire to learn it. Ricardo taught me the first song I ever played on the piano, a silly, playful little tune that I still know by heart. Oh, and he was my first crush, too.
Another reason why I will never forget my holiday in Italy is the short trip we took to the Italian Alps at some point. I had never seen such majestic beauty before! The snow-covered peaks, the intimidating rocks, the fresh, harsh air – what an experience! And what I remember impressed me the most was the fact that, although this was a popular touristic area, the region was incredibly clean, still “natural”, with places that seemed to never have been touched by humans. Then, the shallow teen that I was learned what a real treasure nature is and how important it is to protect it.
Finally, there’s one peculiar memory from this vacation that stuck with me for reasons that I can’t say I grasp. It’s a pineapple & cheese sandwich that they sold at the clinic my mom went to for treatment. What a simple and ingenious mix of flavors – a sheer joy for the taste buds! I think it was the first time I tasted a mix of “regular food” and exotic fruit all in one, and I believe this is what triggered in me the pleasure I know have for experimenting with flavors in my cooking and coming up with unusual dishes. Looking back on it, this simple sandwich can also be a good metaphor for how you shouldn’t overcomplicate things in life – sometimes, the simplest solution and a bit of flair or courage can bring astonishing results.
My trip to Italy helped me understand more about other cultures, allowed me to find my passion (and let’s not forget about my first crush), taught me to cherish nature and do my best to protect it, and – maybe – inspired in me the courage to experiment (or, at least, it gave me the opportunity to discover that I adore pineapple & cheese sandwiches). This is why it is my favorite holiday memory.
Summer break is a great time to kick back, relax and enjoy yourself and, if you’re lucky, to go on an awesome trip! But how can you translate your amazing vacation into a narrative essay for English class or work it to fit a common application prompt? Here’s some tips to help you out:
Save Mementos From Your Summer
Even if you’re not the sentimental type, make sure to document your summer travels. Take pictures, write diary entries, save train stubs. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll remember your summer well enough to look back and write about it later.
Write an Outline Before Writing Your Essay
Regardless of whether you spent your summer break in Madison, Wisconsin or Madrid, Spain, you should plan out what you’re going to write before diving in. Make a list of what you’ve done over the summer so that you can later narrow down a focus for the essay itself. Keep in mind that the best essay topics aren’t always on the most exciting activities an essay about getting stuck in traffic on the way to the airport on the way to Denver could work better than an essay on hiking the Grand Canyon and looking out at the incredible view.
Since you’re going to keep a record of your trip and come up with an outline before writing your essay, you should be able to put some detail into your essay. Be as specific as possible when it comes to your word choice. If you’re talking about some gelato that you ate in Italy, don’t say that it was “delicious.” Instead, say that it was “creamy and chocolatey, with a note of vanilla.”
Focus on Feelings About Your Trip, Not What You Did
If you spent the summer on the beach in Cape Cod, you shouldn’t write about what you did. You should write instead about how you felt while there. An essay that reads “I went to beach, then had lobster for dinner” is not quite as exciting as one that goes, “As I went for a walk on the beach, I thought about how lucky I was to be able to enjoy nature.” Feelings translate better into text than events, and you should try to place those feelings into context.
Stick to Writing About a Small Moment
With any essay you write especially a short one it’s important to focus a narrow moment in time. Don’t write about your entire week in Paris. Instead, write about the moment you got lost in the city at midnight and fumbled your way home in the dark. You don’t have to pick a particularly glamorous moment from your trip, but you should pick one that meant something to you.
Edit Your Essay Carefully
The shorter the essay, the more important precision is. Regardless of length, make sure to carefully read over what you’ve written to make sure every sentence conveys the message you most want displayed. The editing process matters just as much as the writing process, even if it seems less so.
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