From May 8 through 12, grade 7-10 students went off-timetable to engage in a over 16 trips. As opposed to the grade level trips run for grades 6, 11 and 12, where the emphasis is on forging new bonds and celebrating long-term friendships in a massive, often chaotic and exhausting grade-level excursion, the Experiential Week for grades 7-10 emphasizes student voice, choice, and passions through small-group, specialty trips.

For many students, these trips offer their first taste of a week without walls (as well as, for some trips at least, a week without social media numbing their brains). In this special report, Journalism 9 reporters provide snapshots for each trip on this very special tradition at AISB.

Grade 9-10 Trips

Click any button to jump to that trip’s report, or scroll through and read about all the trips!

The Real Romania: Via Transilvanica

One of many “Power Circles” in downtown Sighisoara, getting stretched and oriented before a 10km hike on the Via Transilvanica trail.

Sixteen intrepid students spent five days exploring the Transylvanian countryside hiking along two 10-14 km segments (25km total) of the newly established Via Transilvanica trail that runs the entire length of Romania from north to south. In addition to the long-distance walking, students spun pottery, crafted bracelets, cuddled with baby goats, ate locally sourced meals, milked a cow, and turned old plastic into recycled items such as rulers and spinners.

Taking a break from a service project at Stâna de pe Coline, a working farm in Floresti, Romania.
Getting passport books stamped by locals along the route was a highlight.
Cooking from raw, farm-fresh ingredients for lunch.

But the real highlight, according to English and Journalism teacher Chuck Adams, was the bespoke Scavenger Hunt in downtown Sighișoara. Adams says he and French teacher Quentin Young spent “a few hours” designing the activity a few months before the trip. “We initially thought our clues were too difficult for students,” Adams says. “But most teams found at least half of the clues and one team even scored 19 out of 20.” The winning teams received prizes emblazoned with the Via Transilvanica logo.

Trails were squishy and muddy…
…or sometimes grassy and woody.

While words and photos can only begin to scrape the surface of this trip, this video chronicling the highlights from the trip hopes to fill in the blanks:

Video produced by The Real Romania participants and grade 10 Journalism students Petra P., Sofia D., and Deppie G.

Film in Five

Filming the bar scene on location at Castel Film Studios.

Eleven students from grades 8-10, alongside AISB film and design teachers EJ Callahan and Marty Lawless, planned, shot, and edited a short film over the course of five days. The filming took place in Castel Film Studios, in Buftea, where students were able to experiment with professional film sets, cameras, and costumes.

On Day 1 students discussed the storyline and theme of the film and toured Castel Film Studios to get an overview of the available sets and possible plots that could be created with them. Next, on Day 2, students created the script and storyboards to view during filming. EJ Callahan said, “After the students wrote the script, they did a table-reading as a whole group. It was really fun to see how their ideas developed and came to life during the reading.”

Walking down the apocalyptic street set.

Day 3 fully took place in Castel Film Studios, shooting the film from 8:00 until 16:00. There were multiple film sets with different themes, such as apocalyptic or Western. Students were able to pick out different costumes based on the roles they would play. The next day, the team edited and enhanced the scenes filmed. Day 5 was the premiere in the AISB theater and the cast enjoyed themselves with pizza to celebrate. 

Grade 9 student Evelyn S. said she enjoyed the filming process and the environment of the film studio. She also added, “My favorite memory was when we had to retake the bar scene with the straitjacket so many times because they couldn’t get it on Sebastian fast enough. It was just super funny.”

“Filming at Castel Studios was one of my favorite memories,” Callahan says. “It was exciting to be at a real studio location.”

To get a better idea of the trip and process of creating the film, check out the behind-the-scenes video Evelyn S. and Megan L. put together:

“Behind the Scenes with Film in Five”

—Selin O.

HS Mountain Biking

Students testing out their skills.

Students had an unforgettable experience embarking on a mountain biking adventure in the breathtaking mountains of Romania with English teacher and Tech coach Troy White and Humanities teacher Tyson Lazzaro. They were offered a harmonious blend of natural beauty, quality cuisine, and top-notch biking equipment. Students who chose this trip were treated with a total of two day-long rides boasting over 30 kilometers of complicated trails with the help of electric assistance from the e-bikes that were offered.

Fording a river on the HS Mountain Biking trip.

Grade 9 student Baran O. described the trip as “exciting but a challenge.”

From the challenging and fast downhills where it was important to stay calm and composed to the complex and technical areas like the rocky sections, this trip is definitely not for everyone.

However, Grade 9 student Matei R. was very helpful to the students who were new to mountain biking and was willing to help others get better by teaching everyone what to do for different situations, whether that’s going downhill or riding through tough terrain.

Leon S.

Outward Bound

Student’s hiking 7.5 km to the campsite with full packs.

From May 8 to May 12, grade 9 and 10 students, accompanied by the instructors of Outward Bound and AISB teacher supervisors, embarked on an unforgettable journey amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Sovata, in central Romania. Students discovered the wonders of nature by camping in the forest after a long hike, fostering unbreakable bonds, and cultivating essential teamwork and communication skills.

One of the trip leaders, PHE teacher Svetlana Akhundova, shed light on the contrasting experiences of the Outward Bound journey. Despite moments of laughter and tranquility, Akhundova did not anticipate the physical effort of the 7.5-kilometer hike and a night of sleeping in the cold: “The physical stress on my body was one struggle for me during this trip.”

Students setting up their campsite for the night.

On the other hand, Akhundova emphasized the profound importance of the trip, stating, “The trip itself, from sleeping in tents and cooking on a fire, teaches you a lifetime set of skills.” She highlighted how the trip effectively nurtures students, enabling them to cultivate crucial methods of survival and independence. 

Supporting this sentiment, grade 10 student Catrina S. recommends the Outward Bound trip to those “who would want to get out of their comfort zones,” adding that it’s also ideal for students who find joy in nature and aspire to enhance their survival skills, as well as creating priceless moments with your friends that you’ll remember forever.

Students test out their raft at Outward Bound.

A common thread emerged in interviews and recommendations for prospective attendees. Grade 9 student, Maria R., offered valuable advice: “Go into it expecting to be challenged as well as an open mind…to learn something from every hard thing you experience.”

Nicole P.

Street Photography

Participants practiced with figures and blurred motion in a Bucharest subway station. (Photo by David G.)

Sixteen upper secondary students spent their week learning and applying photographic techniques amidst the backdrop of quirky urban areas of Bucharest, abundant with graffiti, landmarks, and old architecture. 

This trip forces students to go out of their comfort zones and out into the unfamiliar parts of Bucharest, exploring in groups of two or more. This helped students find their way around the city to gain a better idea of the city they live in. 

Close-up focus on the streets of Bucharest. (Photo by Yumin S.)

According to Science and Photography teacher Peter Stanley, the real important parts of the trip were, “people went out of their comfort zone which was really important.” Additionally, he adds that, “We went to different parts of the city and the subway which showed people a new part of their city.”

Stanley found that it was “exciting for the students” and “a little scary, taking pictures of civilians on the street.”

See this and more photos by grade 10 student Alexia D. posted at her blog: 

Grade 9 student Donggyu S. said that he had a “feeling of enjoyment” during the trip. Additionally, he “learned some useful techniques that made the quality of [his] photos much better.”

—David G.

Documenting the Delta

Students running on the beach at the mouth of the Danube River.

In an adventurous trip to the Danube Delta, a group of 26 upper secondary students and six adults embarked on a remarkable journey to one of the largest wetlands in the region. Students participated in activities such as boating along the river, spotting a variety of bird species; cleaned up the beach; played UNO for hours; bravely dipped into the Black Sea; played endless rounds of beach volleyball tournaments, bonfires, and much more.

The main purpose of the trip was for the group to experience an adventure outside of their familiar environment, away from their families.

However, one of the students on the trip, Phoebe K., expressed the bonding of new friendships: “For me, the most memorable part of this trip was getting to know the people who I had just met, and creating even stronger bonds with the people I already knew.”

Grade 10 student Nick G. echoed Phoebe’s statement by saying, “The experiences and the people I met inspired me in many ways; the trip was much better than my expectations.” He then detailed the animals he saw: “Small turtles, dolphins, birds, and a snake.” 

View of the cabins at the Green Dolphin, home to the Anonimul International Film Festival held every August.

“We did lots of sitting around in buses,” says Science teacher Byron Farrow, due to a few bus breakdowns to and from the Delta. However, this didn’t stop them from having a great time and making unforgettable memories.

—Alya A.

HS Master Chef

Making fresh pasta at Cannoleria.

Twenty-four students from grade 7 through 10 embarked on a five-day culinary adventure around Bucharest, preparing to replicate the thrilling reality TV show, “MasterChef.” The students made fresh pasta at Cannoleria, cooked eggs benedict at G.Y.S.T., and gathered ideas from the chefs for the final competition. In that grand finale, on Friday, May 12, the student chefs fought against the clock to push out 21 dishes, seven entrees, seven mains, and seven desserts to compete for the title of Master Chef.

At Mamizza, students made fresh pizza.

Grade 9 student Matei P. says, “Throughout Master Chef, I loved all the restaurants, especially G.Y.S.T., as we made eggs benedict and a fried chicken salad. Having all students hands-on and tasting at all times was so fun.”

The group of 24 students spent the whole day at G.Y.S.T., learning the science behind making croissants, frying chicken for a salad, and poaching eggs for eggs benedict.

On day four the group went to the famous Mamizza where they made fresh pizza, tagliata, and fried mozzarella. Grade 10 student Alex F. says, “Mamizza was the best experience out of all. The staff was the best and the food they let us cook was incredible. They even said I could go work for them during the summer.”

Competitors setup their cook stations outside the Secondary, labored hard in the outdoor kitchens, and presented their work for the judges.

After Mamizza, the chefs competed in a mystery breakfast bag challenge where each team created a breakfast dish with a given set of ingredients.

For the final competition, however, the groups of 4-5 students prepared their own shopping lists so they had all they needed for the final 3-course challenge.

Laurentiu R.

HS Skatepark+

Skateboarders learning how to drop in on a half pipe.

From May 8-12, twelve students from grades 9 and 10 went to several skate parks in Bucharest to learn how to skate alongside professional coaches and to refine any preexisting skills. Participants could choose between skateboards, scooters, rollerblades, or any other form of skating alternative. Finally, at the end of the week, students were given the option to go kayaking or stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP) on Snagov Lake.

Scootering the ramps at skatepark Titan.

Every day of the trip, the participants of the trip got to improve their skills and deepen their bonds with everybody else participating. Herastrau skate park introduced newcomers to the sport and got people to start dropping in on ramps and learning how to dominate their wheels instead of the wheels dominating them.

At Titan Skate Park, everybody further developed the fundamentals and enjoyed a trip to the mall for lunch and a break. Wednesday, the students took a break from skating and instead went to Eden Land for a change of pace to enjoy some uninterrupted zipline courses.

On Thursday the group went to Ghetto skate park, a park built into a former ghetto where grade 9 student Kellan R. tore his knee tendons, but was OK and made a rapid recovery.

The highlight of the trip came Friday when the group went to Lake Snagov to go paddleboarding. Everyone enjoyed themselves in one way or another whether they paddle boarded, kayaked, or stayed on the lake and hung out.

The HS Skateboard+ crew at lunch at Hard Rock Cafe.

All in all, the experience was extremely positive for all involved. The group all enhanced skating in one way or another, had a ton of fun, and enjoyed new experiences that they wouldn’t have had without going on the trip.

—Radu T.

Grade 7-8 Trips

Exploring Brașov

Exploring Brașov and its wonderful artistic and cultural sights.

Over the course of four days, 19 students set off on a trip to Brașov with four teacher leaders in order to explore what this area had to offer. Throughout their trip, students ascended the 7 Stairs Canyon Hike, completed a visual arts workshop, participated in a high energy performing arts and dance workshop, along with a walking tour exploring the Old Town and Mount Tampa.

According to trip leaders, the mission of this trip was to explore unique places, prepare students for the future, build responsibility towards personal, environmental and global communities, taking risks and making connections.

Alongside participating in various ventures, students also visited many unique and interesting locations such as the Liberty Bear Sanctuary as well as the Rașnov Caves, an arts museum, and finally, a traditional folk museum. In addition to these, they visited the first ever Romanian school and the Rașnov Fortress.

Working with local artisans.
Working with local legends.

While there were many highlights on the trip, Drama teacher Jamie Cant says that one drawback was the reaction that students gave in response to restrictions put on them regarding the use of their phones. The rationale behind this limitation was to allow students distraction-free enjoyment of their surroundings.

Grade 8 student Alexandra A. showed her appreciation for this opportunity to be phone-free, expressing that “it really helped every student admire the beauty of their surroundings, while also engaging with their peers without using their electronic devices.”

However Grade 7 student Neo N. expressed his sheer dissatisfaction by stating, it was an “unnecessary rule that didn’t need to be as strict as it was.” He also added that the phones should have been given back in the evening until the next morning.

Without phones, students suddenly get creative: Making flower crowns in Brașov.

Overall, a clear majority who attended this school trip to Brașov were pleased to have had this opportunity to share experiences outside school with their peers and teachers.

—Ayse D.


Group photo taken at Lake Comana Natural Park.

Grade 7-8 students embarked on an an aquatic adventure based mainly around kayaking in new spots south of Bucharest near the Danube River, as well as Lake Comana Natural Park.

On day 1, students arrived at their campsite in Gostinu, Romania, and, even though it was rainy, they embarked on a trek through the mud.

Grade 8 student Noah R. says he most remembered the animals from day one: “While we were hiking, two dogs started following us all the way back to the campsite and stayed there for the whole remainder of our trip.”

According to Learning Support teacher Hanan Abdou, the most challenging part for the students was the rain and cold weather. “No one was really prepared for it to be as cold as it was,” Abdou says. “But they persevered and had a great time regardless.”

Students showing off their paddle skills.

On the second day, students kayaked in 2-person tandem kayaks in a section close to the Danube River. This day was mainly spent getting used to kayaking in open water.

On day 3, students bused up to Lake Comana Natural Park, which included a larger area for paddling.

Noah added that a highlight was actually the bus ride to Lake Comana, “when we were singing and vibing with everyone on the bus.” 

At the site, one group would go out on the kayaks while the other group would do fun outdoor activities like learning how to prepare food, gather and cut wood for their fires, and make their own home-made bows to practice their archery skills.

Abdou says the trip’s highlight was when they “all had a makeshift volleyball tournament on the campsite with music and dancing. It was great bonding for everyone.”

—Cristian J.

MS Mountain Biking

Stoked for the the sunny weather.

From May 8-11, twenty daring middle school students traversed the turbulent hills and mountains of Romania as part of the Mountain Biking trip. The outing crossed the charming landscapes of Moara Vlăsiei and Cheile Grădiștei; pushed through the physical/mental boundaries of mountain biking; and accomplished maintenance skills, traveling adeptness, as well as route-finding.

Getting ready for mountain biking in the foothills north of Bucharest.

A highlight, according to Science teacher Billi Jones, was the amount of “enthusiasm and comradery” that everyone had while on the trip. She recalls “being very insecure on the rocky downhills and too afraid to fall off the bike.” But, with the encouragement of her students, she made it down a rocky, bumpy mountain trail completely by herself.

Grade 8 student Enya R. remarked that a takeaway from this trip would be the “communication aspect of biking across mountains.” She mentioned that in order for your team to be successful and to enjoy the experience “you always have to try your best and work together with others.”

Overall, the students faced difficulties confronting their own fears of using bikes and going downhill at a fast pace. However, they all pushed through and stepped out of their own comfort zones when faced with problems. Jones said that when she pushed through and made it to the end, she felt “accomplished and supported by everyone.”

—Alex B.


Students on their 11.6 km hike outside of Sinaia.

Twenty students from grades 7 and 8 spent five days in the Bucegi Mountains climbing, exploring, and learning new skills. Encouraged by their supervisors and teachers, they hiked on a 11.6 km trail in the mountains surrounding Sinaia, faced their fears, and stepped out of their comfort zones to climb on rugged, technical, real rock surfaces.

Students practicing their balancing and team-work skills.

In Sinaia, temperatures dropped to downright chilly, preventing them from a planned camping excursion. Nevertheless, there were multiple opportunities to climb, which was the main purpose for the trip. 

On climb days, students rotated through different teams, each responsible for their own role.

The first team helped take care of the navigation of the group in the field, getting them to a specific destination for climbing or similar. The second group helped take care of the equipment for the mountain climb. Lastly, the third team took care of the food, so they could prepare a hot meal later on in the day.

Grade 7 student Sophie G. says, “I definitely enjoyed rock climbing and going on the swing the most.” She added: “We also had fun cooking our food, and it took us so long to cook our pasta it ended up tasting really bad, but it was fun.” 

Students practiced climbing on real rock surfaces in the Bucegi Mountains.

Many students had their first experience traveling by train. Grade 7 student Lucia B. says, “We had an amazing time on the train ride, singing and laughing with each other.”

—Isabella H.

Storytelling in the Mountains

Taking a short hike above Magura, Romania, the site for “Storytelling in the Mountains.”

Ten creative students headed to the mountains in rural Magura, Romania, near Piatra Craiului National Park, with Secondary librarian Cristina Cuzuk and Humanities teacher Yarrow Ulehman. The name of the trip was, naturally, “Storytelling in the Mountains.” For five days, they enjoyed activities such as playing games, reading books, drawing pictures, making music with ukuleles, taking photos, and more amazing activities in nature.

According to the trip leaders, the trip’s goal was to “deepen the students’ creativity and inspiration in a peaceful, natural setting.”

To do this, students engaged in a creative writing workshop with published author Arabella McIntyre-Brown, visited a ceramics workshop in Brasov with local artisans, and shot photos of nature and the city along various walking excursions.

Students sharing their work at the writer’s retreat.

Highlights, according to the students, included visiting the ceramics studio (Em Chang Studio) in Brasov and creating mugs, the writing workshop with McIntyre-Brown, walking in the mountains, and enjoying artisanal gelato at Gelato Mania.

When asked for specific highlights, one anonymous grade 7 student said they “played an interesting card game that my friend and I made.”

—Yumin S.

MS Volleyball

Beach volleyball added a fun new dimension to the team’s skills.

For the middle school girls volleyball team, this year’s CEESA tournament in Latvia overlapped with experiential week, and they were unable to attend the regularly scheduled trips. Therefore, the coaches of the team had to become inventive and discover a transformative way to combine the two events. To accomplish this, before departing on Thursday, they organized a team building and cooking activity at Culinaryion, beach volleyball, a bonfire with smores and music on the school campus, and lastly, a visit to Therme.

Alex Sota, the Athletics and Activities coordinator, as well as this trip’s organizer, says a personal highlight for him was the Culinaryion workshop, where “they let us get really dirty in the kitchen, like we were throwing flour and pasta at each other, and we made a 30-meter-long pasta.” He went on to add: “They had music on, so it was really nice to dance and jump around; the girls had a lot of energy and they got to know each other in a different way.”

The MS Volleyball started their week with a team cooking activity.

According to some of the girls, the real highlights took place in Latvia.

Grade 8 student Eva K., says: “After the games, I loved that we would all hang out, go eat, and do an activity. I really enjoyed just being able to walk around the city with the whole team.”

Francesca B. says “the highlight of my trip was when after playing we all went in the [Baltic] sea with our clothes on, swam, and it was really fun.”

Girls MS volleyball team taking a dip in the Baltic Sea with their uniforms.

Although this year’s school calendar posed a challenge when it came to organizing a positive experience for the student-athletes, the trip leaders managed to pull together a memorable week.

Overall, Eva K. says that “these activities allowed us to all get together as a group, and now I feel we are much closer.”

—Maria R.

MS Master Chef

Baking demonstration at G.Y.S.T.

For the 2nd year in a row, 24 Students from grades 7 to 10 practiced together with professional chefs around several restaurants in Bucharest before competing for the final competition at the end of the week. Students had the chance to make ravioli, croissants, coffee art, and more! The event was designed mostly by Music teacher Courtney Mcdonald who took inspiration from the famed “MasterChef” show.

The students started Day 1 at AISB with a spice and condiment challenge, where students had to guess what it was based on the taste or smell. Later, they visited Cannoleria, learning how to cook ricotta, spinach ravioli, and tagliatelle.

They then visited G.Y.S.T., where they did some menu planning for the final competition and learned to cook some breakfast foods such as eggs benedict.

Students competing to be the top “Masterchef” on the final day of the experience.

Fast-forward to the final competition on May 12, in which students were challenged socially and collaboratively by being placed in randomized groups. As grade 8 student Charlotte J. describes it, she “struggled [with the assigned groups] and made new friends, but enjoyed myself and improved my culinary skills.”

“I started this trip with little to no culinary experience, and I feel like I definitely improved,” Charlotte says. “I would recommend this trip to anyone.”

—Demir Y.

MS Skatepark+

Student learning to control the scooter.

On May 8-12, twelve grade 7 & 8 students explored different skateparks and restaurants in Bucharest to develop their skateboarding and scootering skills along with participating in fun activities with Design and Journalism teacher Erik Peterson and Math teacher Corina Cacicovschi.

The group spent the start of Monday in Tunari skatepark, and then had some fun and tested their bravery in an Eden Land ropes course. Tuesday was spent doing kick-flips in Herastrau skatepark and enjoying lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, while on Wednesday the group enjoyed a picnic lunch after spending time shredding skatepark Titan.

On Thursday, students spent the first half of the day at Pipera skatepark, and the second half of the day in the water kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) at Lake Snagov.

Practicing stand-up-paddleboarding—aka SUP—at Lake Snagov.

An anonymous grade 8 student on the trip gave us the scoop: “At first, I fell a lot when trying to do tricks, and it would discourage me. But eventually, when I got the trick it felt really good.”

“I didn’t realize how similar a math class and a skatepark trip would be,” reports Cacicovschi, surprised at this realization. “I saw students who didn’t know anything about the topic, but after practicing, failing, asking for help, and fixing their mistakes, they master it…just like in the math class.”

—Maayan R.