Finding France and England
Over spring break in 2008, I accompanied my high school French Club on a trip abroad. Our itinerary included visiting two European countries, France and England. Our first destination was Paris, France, and it was here that my first difficulty ensued. Upon arriving at the airport, it became apparent that my luggage was not on the rotating belt with everyone else’s. My French teacher and I filled out a report, and we were on our way to the hotel. It was not until three days later that I received my luggage, which meant three days of cold weather with no coat! Despite this setback, my learning experience was not affected. I loved taking the subway in Paris, and learning how to use the train map to get to different destinations. One exciting experience I had was when me and a few friends decided to go to Jim Morrison’s grave alone. We had to find which trains to take, what street the cemetery was on, and where his particular grave was located. This experience taught me how to be independent and confident in trying new things and making decisions. Another lesson I learned in France was a further understanding of the far-reaching effects of poverty. Throughout the train stations and streets of Paris, homeless people were not hard to find. Many of them were musicians, trying to make a meager income by entertaining people on the street. Trying new foods is a necessity when visiting a new country, and sometimes these new foods are not what are expected. After buying some kind of street food, I realized I didn’t like it, and gave it to a homeless woman. The look of gratitude on her face was intense, and I knew that I had made her life better, however small my donation was. I learned the humanity of homeless people, and how the necessities of life are not always a given. After visiting France, we took the train from France to England. This experience was exciting because I found it amazing that an underwater train track could be engineered. It helped show me the power of human ingenuity. In England, London was our main destination. I loved seeing the vast market areas where many interest products were sold. In one of these places, a vendor asked me a question in French. There was no way she would know that I could speak any French, so it was very surprising that this happened. I answered in French, and it was here I learned the importance of language. Knowing another language in life helps in the process of communication, and it can break barriers of culture. Being ignorant of a language eliminates a person from entire populations, and multilingual people are necessary to the continuity of the world’s society and culture. Through my tour of France and England, I saw the amazing history which is present throughout these places. I saw that, while in America no building can be older than America itself, in Europe, history goes much farther back. It is this history for which I have found a new respect and awe, for it is from this history that America was founded, and our unique culture and ethnicity was synthesized.
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