Commonly Asked Questions and Answers:
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Why should I choose a Georgia Hardy Tours Program?
We are a travel company that specializes in educational travel. We have over 34 years of experience of working with some of Canada’s leading public school boards, private schools and cultural institutions. We understand the exact requirements needed by students and parents to ensure a safe and secure environment. As such, we do not have a third party travel provider, we make all the bookings and personally vet locations. Since our specialty is travel, our role is to focus on providing the best travel experience. By partnering with some of the most reputable schools and boards in Canada, academic integrity is ensured. Georgia Hardy Tours is a family owned and operated business with strong values and proven track records of over 30 years of excellence in educational travel.
I want a great mark on this program, so how difficult is it?
By studying abroad and fully immersing yourself in a subject, students can expect to excel in their chosen subject. Each course is fully accredited by a leading school board or private school. Each program fulfills the Ministry of Education’s requirements for lecture hours and testing standards. But what really helps students reach their full academic potential are the fantastic teachers and support staff on site 24 hours a day to aid students. Student staff ratio is 9:1 and staff is available for individual help and guidance. All this is to say, you can expect a great mark, but you will also have to put in the necessary work to earn it.
What about safety?
Safety is of paramount importance to us! The following are just a few of the measures taken for students:
- Upon arrival, passports are collected and deposited in a safety deposit box.
- Students are given maps and an orientation tour of the city/locale
- Discussion outlining cultural differences and expected behaviour
- Supervisor and principals have cell phones making them easily available
- Laminated wallet cards with all pertinent contact information are given to every student, and students are expected to have this with them at all times
- Students are not allowed out of the hotel or residence alone --there is a buddy system in effect at all times, and it's a serious violation to venture out individually.
- There is a curfew in effect every night with a supervised sign-in process
How do universities treat the mark that I earn?
Depending on the course you take your grade may appear as a credit from Crescent School, Crestwood Prepatory College, Bishop Strachan School, Mentor College, Country Day School, Toronto CDSB etc. These are highly reputable institutions, and as such universities will treat your credit earned just as if you were taking the course full time at one of these institutions. Georgia Hardy Tours is not a school; our academic partners ensure that your credit earned is legitimate and will help you get into the University of your choice. Universities are aware that anyone in the province of Ontario can set themselves up as an independent school, so we strongly recommend that you research where your grades are coming from if you are seriously interested in going to university. Getting good grades is important, but where those grades come from can be equally as important as well.
Can I talk to past students/alumni?
We would be happy to provide you with contact phone numbers and/or email addresses of alumni just call or email our office and we will forward this information to you.
What is a typical day like?
Our experience has taught us the value of having structured class situations augmented by fascinating excursions, lectures and field trips. Generally, class time starts shortly after breakfast and will continue until lunch. Afternoons vary – when not exploring the host city or enjoying an optional excursion, students will have time for homework and projects. Dinner is a group affair and will either be at the hotel, residence, or local restaurant depending on the program. Evenings are free and students are expected to return and sign-in before curfew.
Where do the teachers come from, and what are they like?
Teachers are chosen by the sponsoring school or public board and are selected based on their outstanding level of expertise in the subject field, travel experience, leadership and enthusiasm. GHT hires the support staff and supervisors, based on similar criteria. Our goal on every program is to provide the best educational experience of a student’s life. Having the best teachers is a crucial component in meeting that goal. Past students have raved about their teachers, please click here to read what they said.
Who designs the curriculum?
The independent schools and public boards design the curriculum for our programs. For Ontario students our entire curriculum meets Ministry guidelines and is taught by Ontario Teachers College (OTC) registered teachers. For our British Columbia students we hire teachers from BC and use BC curriculum.
Where are classes held?
Our classes are held in comfortable air-conditioned facilities, either located directly in the hotel or close by. Once again, our experience has taught us that students can concentrate and focus on their studies if they are comfortable. We make it easy for students to concentrate by providing a comfortable environment conducive to learning. Teachers, however, have the latitude to hold classes wherever they deem it to be most beneficial. We strives to create a moving classroom, which can take place on site and during excursions. For example, lectures can take place in the shadow of the Roman Colosseum or in the rainforest of the Amazon basin. Those who have been to Scotland, Ireland, and England know that a sudden rain shower is entirely possible; therefore we have the flexibility to hold class onsite and we have the peace of mind that there is a cool dry classroom conducive to learning if poor weather is forecasted.
Is there a set time when the classes are taught?
Typically, classes are taught in the mornings Monday to Friday. There may be days where a full day excursion could be organized mid week, when this happens teachers decide, based on the calendar which we provide and outlines all of the excursions when is the best time to recoup the lost class time. There may be occasional classes in the afternoons or on the weekend. In Ecuador, teachers reserve the right to hold classes when it is most appropriate and several classes will be outside the four walls of a classroom.
Free time – how much is there?
Free time takes place in the afternoon and evening. We encourage students to use their free time as wisely as possible, and that means taking every opportunity to soak up the culture and sites of the city or location where they are studying. Completing homework and assignments are crucial, but we urge students to fully explore whenever possible.
How many students are on a typical program?
Group sizes vary but we will typically do not allow any group be larger than 65 participants. We try to have a student to staff ratio of 9:1. If a group has 60 participants it’s likely to have 4 teachers, a principal, and two supervisors yielding a ratio of just under 9:1.
Where do we stay and what’s it like?
We know that students (and their parents!) have high expectations regarding their comfort and security. Across all programs and countries, we make every effort to secure the best accommodation available based on the following criteria:
- Centrally located
- Safe and secure areas
- Close proximity to key sites
- First-class hotels or superior residences with ensuite bathrooms and enough room for studying
Who will I room with and how is the decision made?
If there is someone you would like to be roommates with by all means please let us know and we will make sure that you and your friend are roommates. Students who come on our programs not knowing any other participants quickly make new friends with whom they room with. For students who do not make a rooming request, we will attempt to put students together with classmates enrolled in the same course.
How do we travel from city to city?
GHT works with some of the best coach companies in every country we visit. Students travel via fully air-conditioned, modern, private coach. In the case of programs changing countries (i.e.: Italy/Ireland) students travel by airplane, and then transfer to private coach. In the case of Italy/Greece, the transfer from Athens to Crete is via ferry where we reside in private cabins on board.
I’m particular about food, so where will we eat the meals that are included in the price?
Breakfast and dinner are included daily in the cost of the trip, unless otherwise noted in the itinerary. These meals are most often at the hotel or residence where the students stay, and in the case of dinner often at local restaurants. Breakfasts are usually buffet with a selection of fresh breads, cereals, yogurts and fruit. Dinner menus are a set menu and designed to appeal to a broad range of tastes, but reflect the local cuisine. Allergies and special diets are accommodated, provided you inform us prior to departure so hotels and residences can plan accordingly.
A further note about food…
We understand how important good quality food is to the success of a trip. Part of the joy of discovering a new culture is enjoying a regional palate, and our programs endevour to strike a balance between Canadian taste and the local cuisine.
Are there curfews?
Yes, curfews are set every night. Curfew can vary from city to city and program to program, and the time is at the discretion of the principal. Curfew is taken seriously, and any violations will be dealt with swiftly and have consequences. Curfew is in place for all students’ safety and security.
What’s the Code of Conduct?
GHT insists all students and parents sign a code of conduct prior to departure. The code is a contract that students and parents are obligated to abide by. There are strict rules regarding alcohol abuse, drugs and venturing out of the hotel/residence alone.
What happens if I get sick or have to go to the hospital?
If you require medical attention, a staff member will have a doctor come directly to your hotel room for an examination. If a visit to the hospital is required a staff member will take the student and liaise with the medical staff. Parents will be notified immediately and given regular updates.
What’s the best way to get money?
We strongly recommend using debit cards and credit cards while abroad. Please do not use traveler’s cheques. Please ensure that your debit card has a 4-digit pin number and is connected to a chequing account in Canada. You can easily withdraw cash from ATM’s in Europe and Latin America. We strongly recommend that you not use traveler’s cheques as they require a passport to be cashed. Upon arrival in Europe or Latin America the principle will collect all participant passports and put them in a safe. This is so that no one’s passport goes missing or is stolen.
I have a laptop computer, should I bring it?
We highly recommend you bring a laptop computer with you. Many students do, and find it is an advantage. However, if you do not want the added responsibility of traveling with a computer, then teachers happily accept handwritten assignments.
Do I need to buy books for the program?
Yes, and it is your responsibility to make sure you travel with them. At the orientation meeting (approximately two months prior to departure), you will have the opportunity to purchase the texts for the program. We will also list the course texts on this website so that you may purchase them independently.
Do I have to travel with the group? Can I extend my stay longer? If I’m going to be in Europe with my family, can I meet the group without having to come back to Canada?
We can happily arrange alternative travel arrangements. Please contact GHT's Operations Manager if you wish to make deviations to the scheduled flights.
What documentation do I need?
You need a valid Canadian passport. It must be valid for six months after you return. If you are not a Canadian citizen it is your responsibility to ensure you have proper documentation to enter the country to which you are traveling -- contact your consulate/embassy to determine the necessary visas, etc....
*Georgia Hardy Tours will not be responsible for incomplete or insufficient travel documents.
Do I need immunizations before I depart?
For programs in Europe you will not need immunizations. For programs to Latin America, Asia or Africa, GHT will supply you with a list of recommended medications/shots, but strongly urge you to contact your local travel clinic or GP for the most up-to-date information and advice.
What is the orientation meeting and when is it held?
The orientation meeting is a chance to prepare students for their summer abroad. We will go over in detail all aspects of the program. As well, you will get a chance to meet your teachers, as you will break off into class during this meeting. Additionally, parents will have an opportunity to ask our staff further questions about the program. It is normally held in early May. An email will be sent to all participants in early April announcing the time and date of the orientation meeting.
How can my family reach me while I am away?
In case of emergency, your family can call the Georgia Hardy Tours office and we will contact the principle of the program who will get in touch with you. If you have a mobile phone on a GSM network (Rogers, Fido) you can also make and receive calls while abroad. In many destinations there is access to computers and you can also correspond via email.
How do I get credit for the courses on my transcript?
The sponsoring school boards or independent schools will issue a transcript at the end of the program and send it to either your home, your school or both your home and school. When your school receives the transcript they will apply the grade to your academic record, it’s as easy as that. Because Georgia Hardy Tours does not issue the marks, our office is not involved in the delivery of the transcript.
Do most students continue on to University?
The overwhelming majority of students who participate in Georgia Hardy programs go to University. In fact, we have had several students whose choice of University has been influenced directly by the programs we offer (for many students the choice of University and program can be a difficult one). For example, a student from our England program last year is now very keen on going to Oxford to complete his undergraduate degree in English. Moreover, many of our alumni tell us that Explore Your World programs replicate the University experience and help to make the difficult transition from high school to University a smooth one. After all, students are not only taking a high school course in a foreign country, they are learning how to manage their time and money, interact with different cultures, all while learning how to be resourceful and even how to do laundry!
Is there internet access available?
Internet access in Europe is not as widely available as in Canada. However, wherever possible, we strive to ensure there is internet access at the residence/hotels where our students stay and/or in the immediate vicinity.