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In June of 2008 I had the privilege visit Europe for twenty days. I am writing about three of the countries I saw. This was an unforgettable trip and I made some of my best friends on it.
The first three days of our trip we explored London, England. The more we saw of the city the more I fell in love with it. We visited Hampton Court Palace, where King Henry VIII lived. For no indoor plumbing those people sure knew how to live! The coolest thing about being in Hampton Court Palace was that I had watched The Other Boleyn Girl on the plane before we arrived, so being there really made history come to life for me. My friends and I talked to one of the workers there and he told us about some of the local ghosts that haunted the palace. Turns out there are a few in there. The next day we visited the Tower of London. That was an interesting experience where we learned a lot. I discovered people are a bit more open about a lot of things over there than they are at home, and when we went to the London Eye I noticed that people seem to actually enjoy their city parks. We watched a very large parade that included what seemed to be the entire Royal Guard. A man let us stand in front of because we were all so short, his wife was kind enough to explain the purpose of the parade and what the reds and blues on the guard’s hats stood for. Biggest surprise of my life, we saw the queen! We saw the princes as well, all in the same day! We ate fish and chips for supper that night and then we saw a musical in London’s famous West End.
Leaving England, we took an overnight ferry to France. London was different and exciting but France is where the culture shock hit. It never really hit me until I noticed that all the signs were in French, and while obviously that was a given, the thought never crossed my mind until I saw signs that I didn’t understand at all. I learned a few phrases like, “I do not speak French.” That was a really good one seeing how the shop people tried to speak to me in French. We saw Normandy and Omaha beach and we visited the Louvre, where we saw the world famous Mona Lisa, and having seen the real thing for myself, I cannot figure out why there is so much hype about such a small painting. I tried escargot and it was one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten despite the rubbery texture.
From France we headed to the Holland in the Netherlands. Emily Kendra and I joined the football craze and decked ourselves out in the team’s color, orange. It was very cool because we pushed ourselves into the culture a bit more and thus learned more. We also visited the Anne Frank museum, being there all I could think was, “This is the real place, this is where she wrote her diary.” We rode bikes there and visited the windmill museum. A woman yelled at me in Flemish, it was scary, and we even played some football with a group of Dutch boys!
I would love to go back to Europe, I loved it there and I learned so much so fast. I learned culture shocks, while a little alarming, are the greatest way to experience a people and how they live!