The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

Flying Into the New Year: How These Three Students Started the Year Exploring New Destinations With Family

For students stressed after finals, winter break is not only a well-deserved rest but also an opportunity to visit new places during the holidays. Whether it is exploring new cities, reconnecting with distant families or simply taking a leisurely stroll through local attractions, many students indulge in experiences previously sidelined by academic commitments for two weeks.

Sophomore Manha Akhlaq traveled to New York City and Washington D.C. with her family to see new urban sights and make lasting memories. Though she does not celebrate a specific holiday, the chance to travel and explore a bustling city with her loved ones makes the break a nice change of pace from being focused and rooted at school. 

“For me, winter break means taking a break from school and enjoying the holiday season with family and friends,” Akhlaq said. “Having important moments to spend with family is important and emotionally meaningful, especially since we like traveling more than staying home.”

Instead of her traditional family visit to India over winter break, junior Ananya Vuppula enjoyed her time in Hawaii, specifically Kauai Island. Seeing serene mountains, magnificent waterfalls, a coffee farm and a rural village helped Vuppula take her mind off the stress of grades, according to Vuppula. 

“The island was a quiet place, like a space to reflect,” Vuppula said. “It was a place where time stopped and I could just be myself and stop worrying about school and reflect on how the year has been.” 

In previous years, Vuppula traveled to India to visit her extended family, going to her favorite restaurants, shopping with her cousins and mingling with her family members. The nature trails, beaches, waterfalls and villages full of friendly people in Kauai Island were a pleasant change from her usual urban destinations in India, according to Vuppula.

“In India, people can tell when you’re a tourist and they treat you like one, but in Kauai, it was more rural and it had a beautiful village and they didn’t treat me like a tourist, which was relaxing,” Vuppula said. 

Junior Charles Pan spent his winter break in Japan, visiting Tokyo, Atami and Kazo. In Tokyo, he visited the Shibuya crossing, and then visited the Asakusa temples during the New Years, praying at the temple and buying a lucky charm as a souvenir. He spent the last part of his break enjoying nature, walking to the beaches in Atami and hiking around gardens in Kazo. 

Pan typically spent his winter break at home with a few family members, but in recent years, his family’s busy schedules meant they were not always able to spend the break together, according to Pan. However, that made spending time together in Japan and catching up with each other more memorable and special. 

“We don’t usually come together in previous years, so traveling is a bonding experience,” Pan said. “Just being together and spending time brings a sense of collectiveness and makes the experience more special and unique.”  

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About the Contributors
Stephanie Hwang, Assistant News Editor
Stephanie Hwang is the Assistant News Editor for her first year on Portola Pilot. This year, she hopes to connect with Portola Pilot members and learn all that she can. When she’s not playing indie games or attempting to monopolize the cafeteria’s daily supply of vinegar chips, Stephanie can be found trying to finish all the new books she’s been collecting. Or lamenting about her upcoming tests.
Hannah Ko, Assistant Opinion Editor
Hannah Ko is the assistant Opinion Editor for her second year on the Portola Pilot. This year, she is looking forward to depriving herself from sleep and growing gray hairs from stressing about her classes. Outside of the classroom, you can most likely find her either sleeping, talking, listening to music or shopping.
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