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04 Sep 2015

BY Matthew Parsons


Jo Rzymowska: Make the most of the back-to-school feeling  

The start of another school year is a great time to remember the “back to school” feeling.

Jo Rzymowska (Celebrity Cruises)


There is still nothing more crisp and like a new-beginning than the first page of a notepad. And even though it is a few years (OK, many) since I left school, I still get a new-school-year spring in my step around September time.


We are all so engrained in the rituals of settling down after summer. Being off school for six weeks is one of my greatest childhood memories. I’m sure we all remember the freedom of summer with great affection, recalling those breaks as packed with warm days. It was during the holidays I enjoyed my first family trips camping in Europe and discovered my love of languages. I made lifelong friends in France, Spain and Germany.


I used to be able to work in German, eat in French and drink in Spanish but these days I’m only really capable of ordering wine in those languages The return to school always came with a bump. I enjoyed my school years, but also still remember the feeling of trepidation when it came to the night before the new term started. Similarly, I sometimes return to the University of West London (or Ealing college when I was a student) to guest-lecture in the tourism department, and I always get the back-to-school feeling the night before...


What if I can’t remember anything? I never really dreaded going back to school; just had little niggles in the back of my head. I loved learning, the social aspect and camaraderie. But, the first return after a long summer break was always a little scary.


I worried about new demon-like teachers, what on earth we would be given next in the dreaded school canteen, and if anyone would ever be able to spell my surname. Once the first day nerves were over, the school term was packed full with opportunities.


At school I realised my passion for travel. I got a glimpse of the idea that people did wonderful things with their time and I learnt about my Polish and German heritage. I’m lucky enough to be able tore-live the back-to-school feeling with my two nephews.


Through their homework and interests I can enjoy the school subjects that I was frankly not very good at. They are fantastic musicians and put my idea of a tune to shame. If I were going back to school this September, I would definitely put more effort into music.


I enter this time of year thinking about what I could do differently. Historically in our business we enjoy an uplift in bookings as people come back to reality from their summer breaks, and start thinking about what they haven’t yet done with their year. It’s the back-to-school feeling ritualised in us all – we want to make plans that we can fill the first page of our new notepads with.


I think about cramming in all the things I haven’t yet achieved in the year. Or indeed what new skills I would learn if I had the time. If you want to run something different past me, now is the time I’m most likely to give a positive answer. I’m in back-to-school mode and I have a new notepad to fill.


Jo Rzymowska is managing, director Celebrity Cruises UK & Ireland

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