Is there anything better than waking up with excitement because that morning was the one you had been looking forward to for months? Well, maybe there are better things out there, but knowing that your long awaited vacation is finally here is an intense excitement. For me, there was also a little nervousness mingling with it. I was on my way to France during spring break with 27 other students from my school; most were friends going into the trip but all were friends coming home. For some of us, it was our first time out of the country. For all of us, it was an experience that would be impossible to forget.
The first days we spent in Paris. We stayed at l’HÃ´tel Alexandrie, a little hotel within walking, and metro, distance of all major attractions. We set out right away to see Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, l’Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, and endless museums. Walking on the cobblestone streets of Paris along the Seine and breathing the fresh air was an experience unlike any other I had ever had. Not only did we tour and explore the city and it’s landmarks, we learned the history behind them. The sights were incredible; however what I learned about the sights is small in relativity to what I learned about the people around me and myself.
Everyone on the trip became family, with our three fearless chaperones at the head. We relied on each other because we were all feeling the same things: homesick, nervous, excited, and ready to have fun. These commonalities brought us all together because of the experience Language and Friendship, the program we went through, gave us. When we all went to different host families in Rennes, we had to say goodbye to each other, which was like saying goodbye to our parents before we left for the trip. But we all created more connections through the family stay. While it was hard being without both of my families, by the end of the stay I had a third. My family and I taught each other our cultures. I realized that there are both differences and similarities, and even though there is a great distance between us, we are very similar.
Staying and speaking with a French family not only improved my pronunciation, but also my globalization. In America, we rarely listen to other countries’ music or pay attention to international affairs. My host family knew more of current affairs in their country, and the US, than I did. They listen to American music and read American literature. Seeing this has made me become more interested in domestic and international affairs as well as culture.
Traveling to France was definitely out of my comfort zone, but because of that I learned about myself. I learned that to experience the things that are truly great, you have to do something that might be scary at first. Some of my peers made a mistake when they were drinking and were sent home early. Their action confirmed that there are consequences, and most of the time, they aren’t worth it. Visiting all of those museums and monuments made a personal impression on me because I realized my love for history, my preferred career path. The trip was the best experience of my life. There is no doubt that the people I made connections with and their and the experience as a whole’s impact on me will last and be shown throughout my entire life- maybe even the lives of the people I share my adventure with.
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