The distinctive memory is in my head like it was yesterday… tears of joy flooding my aunts’ faces while seeing their nieces and nephews for the first time. Having any sort of emotion after 24 hours of flying and layovers was on the verge of impossible, but I instantly knew after stepping off that plane and taking my first step in Toulouse, France, that I definitely wasn’t in a small town in Washington anymore.
I never met my dad’s side of the family until my family took that trip to France three years ago. My dad was born and raised in Kuwait, but came to the U.S. for college, while his parents and sisters moved to France. I always loved the fact of having such a different background compared to my friends, but at the same time, longed to meet the family that I had never known, while all the other kids saw both sets of their grandparents all the time.
The time came to make my trip half way around the world with my parents and my two younger siblings, and let’s just say… things didn’t get off to the way I would have imagined. To start off, on our longest plane trip from Detroit to France I got really sick. I was so excited to meet my family and see this new country, but all of a sudden I was feeling awful and couldn’t even eat a bite of food! It was definitely not the best way to start a month long trip.
Luckily within a few days and with the help of some French medicine that tasted surprisingly good, I was feeling much better. However there was another obstacle to overcome, a nine hour time change. I would want to sleep in all day and by the time I got up, it was almost time to go back to bed again! With a few rough mornings and multiple sugar-highs from some delicious French chocolate though, I eventually got into a normal schedule.
After feeling better and being able to wake up before noon… the fun finally began. We went to so many sites, cities, and even other countries. But even though I went to all of these exciting places and have all these great memories from them; I remember the little details so much more. Sledding down the Pyrenees Mountains with my cousins, trying to play rugby for the first time in my grandma’s backyard, and watching bungee jumpers bounce around the Eiffel Tower. Experiences like these made my trip unforgettable.
However, there was one place that I absolutely fell in love with, Lourdes (http://www.lourdes-france.org); a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains and famous for the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes, this place had a vibe that is unexplainable. There was a sense of calmness there and the beautiful churches were absolutely breathtaking.
When I went on this trip it was not only an eye opener to other parts of the world, but it also filled a place inside of me that I had always wants to know more about. Meeting my family was such a joy and getting to know them for a month was great. This trip has definitely made me want to go out and travel the world even more and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to do it again.
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