In the year 2007, I was simply a fourteen year-old girl in junior high. I was attending John Adams Middle School on 30th Street and Broadway Boulevard in Downtown Los Angeles and for almost three years I had been taking French as an elective. I was in the only French class being offered at my school, and the first to have ever taken French for all three years of junior high. Around thirteen students, including me, were eligible for a trip to Paris, France as an award for being the firsts. However, many students’ parents didn’t allow them to go or didn’t have the money to pay. I come from a low-class family, but my hard working parents believed I deserved this reward, so they underwent small sacrifices and raised enough money. At the end it was only five students who would be traveling to Europe.
The first of April was the day we had all been so eagerly waiting for. I remember waking up at five in the morning and quickly began packing my last-minute essentials. At the airport, it was time to say our good-byes and tears slowly began to develop in my mother’s eyes because it was the first time I would be going away for an entire week. We boarded the first plane and headed to Chicago, Illinois, there, we made a short stop and quickly boarded another airplane that was heading directly to the Roissy Airport in Paris, France.
After who knows how many hours (because of the nine hour time difference) we finally arrived at our final destination. So many emotions were going on inside me at one time. I was so excited to be in a place that looked like a new world to me. When we got to out hotel, I remember beginning to unpack my bags when I found a small business card and written on the back was a note that my mother had written and slipped into my luggage when I was not looking. She wrote how much she would miss me and to enjoy myself; to be safe and to take advantage of such a tremendous opportunity. Again, for the second time that day (or the following day, I’m not sure) I let out a couple of tears while sitting on my hotel bed. At this very moment I told myself that I was going to enjoy myself and listen to every word my mother had told me.
The following days the five of us American tourists, along with our French teacher that was accompanying us from school, visited famous and historical monuments, ate in luxurious restaurants and traveled the city in the best way of transportation; the subway. I remember visiting the Tour Eiffel, Chateau de Versailles, Le Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and famous cathedral, Notre-Dame.
While I was sitting on Lufthansa, Flight 4235, at around 5:13 a.m., I wrote in my journal that the “First time on my own [opened] my eyes to a new world full of wonder and discovery.” I now look back upon my one-week trip and all of the memories, photographs, pamphlets, receipts, and souvenirs I brought back with me and can’t hope but to return one day Looking back on that experience three years later has made me want to go back to France because I have grown and learned more about the history of France. I know that the fourteen (or more) hour flight is tough, but it is worth it. Come on, how many Hispanic teenagers my age have the chance to say that they have traveled to Europe?
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