In the summer of 2008 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Paris, France with my best friend. Her grandparents invited us to stay with them in their Paris apartment for three weeks. My friend and I were ecstatic. Three weeks of adventure, beautiful weather, art, and almost independence.
When we arrived in Paris, I was amazed by the cultural difference from home, Portland, Oregon. There was architecture on every street corner, fifteen floor high apartments crammed onto each block, and a hustle and bustle of taxis cabs. I was in an awestruck haze, and it wasn’t the jet lag, when we arrived at the apartment, located across from the Louvre on the River Seine.
The Luxemburg was a place where my friend and I could observe the Parisian teenagers. We made some Parisian friends and they showed us around Paris. They were all welcoming people, but I sometimes found it difficult to be around them because they smoked. None of my Portland friends smoke, but in Paris everyone smokes. One of my new friends explained to me that he would even smoke with his teacher during class breaks. One common fixation that all teenagers, Parisian and American, share is a love for fast food. They frequented McDonalds twice a week. However, they stay active and fit because they walk everywhere. Since taxis are so expensive, walking is their main transportation. My friends and I were walking more than five miles a day. It was tiring but so much more enjoyable to walk down the Champs-Elysees than to drive down it.
One Parisian characteristic I aspire to obtain is Parisian’s global awareness. The Parisian teenagers knew all about the US election and yet I barely knew their president’s name. They were much more internationally aware and they knew so much about America. It has motivated me to become more internationally aware.
Traveling to Paris was truly an astounding experience. I saw stunning paintings, sculptures, and architecture. I met amazing people that I hope to meet again. Visiting Paris opened my eyes to different cultures and life styles. It has motivated me to learn more about the world around me. It has inspired me to study aboard in college and to travel more. It is a trip that I will never forget.
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