The plane touched down at Charles De Gaulle airport, all of the passengers clapped, and I knew that the month ahead of me would be an experience of a lifetime. It was the summer before my junior year in high school, I had been chosen to travel around Europe and play music with Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp Southern Winds. Our director, Michel LaCombe, was from France and barely spoke English but we had a common language, music. There were 65 of us all coming from different schools and backgrounds but after one week of intensive training at Blue Lake we became our own support system.
After a short flight to Berlin we were met by our bus, a double-decker with a trailer that was drove by the craziest Scottish man I’ve ever meet. We boarded the bus and started on our journey to our first town, Bautzen, Germany. Upon arrival we were greeted by our host families, everyone hoped they got placed with an affluent family that lived in a castle and that their closest friends from the trip got placed with them. We were all placed with families and then went to our new homes. We never stayed at one home more than three days, you would think three days is not enough time to get to know a whole new family especially with the language barriers but many tears were shed upon departure.
Our next stops on the tour were Morbisch, Austria then Hirschau, Germany; we went to a floating opera theater, a real castle, played in a Bavarian music festival and made many new friends. These were two of my favorite towns, they had such rich culture and people were proud of everything they had. The littlest things brought smiles to our faces. Our fourth town, Tauberbischofsheim, Germany, was the hardest for me to leave. We had a host sister who spoke perfect English she took us everywhere and I grew very close with her because our personalities were one in the same.
After a twenty hour bus ride we arrived in our directors home town, Foix, he was so proud to show off what he had down with his American group that he had us play at an international music festival. We were one of thirteen groups that played; the other groups were from all around Europe and most were town bands so they had musicians from the age of twelve to forty. After Foix we stayed in a dormitory in Figeac, France for a week and practiced with the Blue Lake en France members. After this we traveled to Gravelines, France then Differdange, Luxembourg, just like in every other town we went sightseeing and played concerts for the residents.
The whole experience was eye opening and I learned how other people live. I believe that my time spent in Europe drastically changed my outlook on life and showed me that I can get out of my small hometown and still survive, but more than just survive, prosper.
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