I just spent the best three weeks of my traveling experiences this summer in France. I made the best decision of my life and signed up for an ECI cultural emersion program to stay for 2 weeks with a host family in Lyon France while spending the rest of my days traveling to visit other cities throughout the country.
Thus in late June I departed and met with a few of my companions to embark on the same adventure. We left from Boston and arrived in Paris where we met with the rest of our group and left to begin our adventures in Nice. We stayed 3 days in Nice and I met my room mate Gina, from Thailand.
I enjoyed my days not having to have any worries and enjoyed being a tourist running through the crowded allies of the markets, eating crepes with nutella for lunch, and resting on the beaches and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. It was lovely and by day three I had already made unforgettable friendships.
After a few days worth of traveling, speaking to people in French, and getting along with our companions we arrived in Lyon and separated into our host families. I had a wonderful family to stay with. Though the father spoke English well, I had the most fun practicing my 3 years of French with my host parents and host sisters. During my stay we went out every weekday with our ECI group to take tours of Lyon, visiting cathedrals, and having free time to wonder about the city with our friends to speak French to the people or dine. We also took excursions to see the beautiful Aix en Provonce and Monaco.
I truly had the time of my life with the people I befriended and my host family. After 2 weeks it was time to leave our families and head to Paris. There were so many sullen faces to be parting with the French families. I had already made such good friends with other French girls and had been so close with my host sister. However, this experience has marked me so much that I plan to visit them next summer and have offered my house to them for when they next plan on visiting the United States!
Sadly, we left our host families and spent the remaining three days of our trip in Paris. I chose the same room mate, Gina, as we had become quite good friends through our stay. Paris was beautiful in a different manner than the other cities. It was full of historical sites, rather more expensive than anywhere else, but beautiful to see. I spent the first day with an old friend I knew who lived there. We met up again and I went to his house to meet his family and stay for dinner. He had previously been an exchange student that same summer at my house and it was great to make an exchange and stay with him.
The second day I had the greatest opportunity to finally visit inside the Louvre! Another of my friends went with here and we had the most fun! My friend was fond of history and could recount every bit of detail in history I could imagine. He made it so much fun walking around looking at paintings of historical figures and listening to him tell me everything about what that person accomplished in life. It made the museum remarkable and we were both rather upset that it was too large to see in one day. Though sullen to leave, we had a quick pick-me-up that evening as we ascended the Eiffel tower to the top floor and stayed till it got dark. Having to rondez-vous again at the base at 10:00 we hurriedly ran down all of the stairs from the second floor and watched as the entire tower illuminated blue and began to sparkle! it was amazing experience running down the steps of the Eiffel tower as it was bright blue and sparkling lights were everywhere! Those were some of the most remarkable and unforgettable experiences of my life as I was sprinting to the base with my friend hot on my heels to make it in time!
As we returned to the hotel we all waited till 12:00pm to wish Gina a Happy Birthday as she turned 17 years old, and the time marked the last few hours we had till our departure that day. Alas, 9 hours later I parted with my best friend as she left with her parents and I left with the group I began my adventures with to go to the airport and return home.
After our 8 hour plane ride home our group was dashing through the air port saying our quick goodbyes as people met with their parents or separated to catch their connecting flights. I was the last to leave the airport as my plane had been delayed and had to stay seated for another 6 hours alone. However I took that time to reminisce about the amazing experiences I had while in France and completely content that I lived each moment over there with the fullest extent. I made friends for life, some I plan to see this coming Christmas or in the summer, and had such a good experience to develop my French and just to realize the different cultures and lifestyles people lead.
I was so content after my trip I’m determined to return either for leisure or to return through college as a study abroad program to broaden my experiences even more! Perhaps one day I will even work with a similar company to give the same opportunities to others to make life long friends and connections around the world as well.
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