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This summer I was given the opportunity to go to France by the Experiment in International living (EIS). I went with a group of thirteen people with a focus in theatre arts. This trip was the greatest and most inspiring trip of my life because I became heavily entwined with a new culture. I learned so much about the French culture and myself, and had a great time while doing it.
The best part of the trip was the home stay in Avignon, France. I hadn’t fully experienced the French culture until the first day I met my host family. On the first day of the home stay my host family was throwing an anniversary party for a member of the family, and immediately I experienced, first hand, real French culture. My host brother, Quentin, and I created a strong bond through the exchange of our different cultures. We often talked about the different foods, cars, and activities in our native countries. My favorite things to do were to play the French version Bocce Ball, PÃ©tanque, hang out with Quentin’s friends, attend the Avignon Theater Festival, and talk with my host family. However, the home stay was only 17 days out of the total 30 days I was in France.
For the other 13 days, I stayed in Paris with my fellow EIL members. For eight of those days we rehearsed and eventually performed the French play, Le Malade Imaginaire, in the French Language. We were directed by Jean-Paul Lemen, who directed entirely in French. It was a great experience to see how far we could test our French speaking abilities and acting skills with only eight days to learn our lines, and perform a play needing a lot of comedic body language. We had taken mime classes back in Avignon with our host siblings, which improved our skills of over exaggerated acting, which we needed for our performance. We went on to have a great performance, and I plan on taking everything that I learned and using for my future in acting.
I remember being scared before leaving for France. I had put up a shell, even though I was trying to be open to this new experience. However, my EIL group members and my host family helped me learn that there is much more to be gained by being open to new things. This trip was an eye opener for me. I now have a new “family” in Avignon, France who I plan to visit next summer, and new friends for the rest of my life. I also learned much more about French culture that can be taught from a book. When people ask me about my trip I refer back to something my host brother told me. He said, “The house doesn’t make the person, the person makes the house.” I relate this to being in France. The monuments and beautiful scenery don’t make the place, the people and the culture do. So I tell those people who ask about my trip, that France itself is nothing, but the people there are amazing.