On July 3rd, 2007, I embarked on an experience I would never forget. After going through multiple interviews, I was one of the lucky few chosen to travel to Europe for 21 days. While in Europe, I visited six countries: Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and England. While they were all amazing and unforgettable, the three that hold the strongest memories are Germany, the Netherlands and France.
Germany was one of the more enlightening places I visited because I had the opportunity to participate in a home-stay program. During that time I lived with a German family for 3 days. I attended school with a family member my age, participated in family activities, went sightseeing and visited one of the nicest outdoor malls that I had ever seen! That experience was truly amazing and one I will always remember. I realized that families in other countries are very similar to our families here in America. They have several of the same traditions and routines as we do.
While in the Netherlands we visited the Anne Frank house. Being Jewish, I was overwhelmed with emotion and could not help but cry. As I walked through the confined rooms, down the narrow hallways, and up and down the steep stairs, I realized how fortunate I am to be living in a free country. The Anne Frank house was very much how I pictured it after reading The Diary of Anne Frank. It was as uncomfortable as described. Being in that secluded space for fifteen minutes was agony – I cannot imagine what it was like to live there for two years.
Driving in a bus from destination to destination gave us the chance to see many beautiful sights along the roads. When we arrived in France it was absolutely beautiful! Everything about it was incredible! We visited the Arc de Triumph, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Palace of Luxembourg. The most memorable of the five was the Eiffel Tower. Standing on what feels like the top of the city is a breathtaking experience. The suspenseful elevator ride up the tower made my arrival even more awe-inspiring. The view from the top allowed me to see the city of Paris from a new perspective. After taking in the view from all angles and capturing it with numerous pictures, I chose to descend the tower using the stairs.
The Louvre was also a very interesting experience. After waiting in line to get into the museum, I found myself comparing the interior of the glass pyramid to its exterior. Once we entered, we looked at several paintings and sculptures prior to viewing the one attraction everyone was most anxious to see – the Mona Lisa. After learning so much about this painting in school, the anticipation of viewing it in person was agonizing! I stood in line for what felt like hours only to be surprised by its size. As beautiful as it was, it was a mere 30in x 21in. I was expecting a painting the size of a door, or at least big enough that I could see its details from the distance we were standing (restrained to by the ropes). Although the painting was amazing, I was somewhat disappointed in its size.
This trip was exciting and educational! I made lifelong friends and experienced different cultures. Traveling abroad is something I definitely plan to do again! My memories of this trip are forever embedded in my mind.
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