Punzabo Winner Discovers Paris Beyond EPCOT (December 2008) - My Family Travels

The winner of the December 2008 travelBIGO Punzabo Award (and $100) is Natilee Festa! Her essay entitled French Fever explains how she broke her preconceived “Disney” notions of what France would be like during her March 2007 trip.  Natilee reveals that visiting and exploring a city such as Paris is the only way one can truly look past misguided stereotypes.

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, Natilee, now 18-years-old and a senior at Dr. Phillips High School.  Thus far, she has applied to eight different colleges and she is eagerly awaiting her admission decisions letters. 

Upon starting college in the fall of 2009, Natilee plans to study English with an emphasis in Creative Writing.  Of her education and the importance of writing she explains, “My schooling experience so far has been one of impatience. I am eager to learn more about literature and enhance my writing; I will be relieved when I can stop pretending to like math. I want to be a writer, though my niche in the literary world is yet to be determined.”

While not in school, Natilee works part-time at Barnes and Noble, which, she says, is an excellent job because she is surrounded by the things she loves the most: books.  But it also makes for a terrible job because she must exhibit an extreme amount of self-restraint.  She asserts, “[It] is an excellent place for a bibliophile to seek employment…unless you want to actually save the money you earn. Consequently, I cannot shop where I work and admire the books from a safe distance.”

As for her current travels, Natilee was disappointed to confirm that she has not taken any big journeys since her trip to Paris.  She did humorously tell of her short trip to the University of Florida where she spent the day moving her sister into her third story apartment.  Natilee explains that she developed “a curious contempt for every heavy or cumbersome item [my sister] owns. It was a pretty good workout, so I guess she would argue I should thank her.”

As for winning this month’s Punzabo, Natilee is thrilled!  She concludes, “Winning this reader’s choice award is exciting for me since it is the first of hopefully many times I will receive compensation for something I wrote! I am glad someone besides me was entertained by my writing.”  She can’t wait for her next opportunity to travel and write.

Help pick next month’s Punzabo winner (Punzabo Award rules for Travel Journals) by rating all the stories you read on travel BIGO. And remember, you can be next!

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