Throughout my lifetime, I’ve been given numerous opportunities to travel all around the state of Florida and even around the nation, but never, in my wildest dreams, did I think my musical abilities would take me around the world! It all started in 2007 when my school’s orchestra-Harrison Symphony Orchestra-performed in the Midwest Clinic in Chicago , Illinois where the French festival organizers snuck past security to invite us to perform in La Croix Valmer, France in the Festival des Anches, or “Festival of Reeds”. We were one of the few orchestras invited-closing out the festival after street bands from Italy and wind ensembles from Sweden had performed just days before-performed two encores, and were asked for a third, but ran out of time.
While in Nice, there was much that I learned about myself and the country that contrasts so drastically to the country I’ve known my whole life. One thing I learned about myself is how in shape I am! After coming home, I realized I wouldn’t have to ever climb up three enormous concrete hills just to get my room again! Being in a foreign country can be exciting yet be extremely nerve-racking! Not knowing where to go and what the signs leading you so many directions in the town mean can make you feel like an outsider, but one thing I discovered is how great it is to be tourist! Being able to walk down the streets and smell the sweet aroma of fresh pastries from the bakeries around every corner was something that I learned to love start off my day that the locals were used to. I remember feeling full every second from tasting everything I could-trying to saturate as much of the culture of the spectacular country I wanted to learn so much about as I could.
Another challenge was adapting to my place of residence. My whole life, all I’ve had was a younger brother who had his own room right next door. And the minute I stepped ground onto Nice, France, I was given four older sisters and one twin. Getting ready each morning was a disaster! Calling first, second, third for the shower, stealing rooms for make-up appliance for concerts and outings, asking each other “Is this dress too short to climb up an ancient mountain to a medieval castle in?”. Every evening, we would come back to a dorm cluttered with clothes, perfumes, lotions, and hair products. I had to not only live with my friends-who I believed were so well-rounded-I had to live with my friends’ quirky night hardships. One of my friends-who I will leave unnamed-talks in her sleep, another watches Disney Classics on her iPod to fall asleep-which I actually joined in on-and one other says things to people in her sleep and doesn’t remember anything come morning time.
Every day, there was always something to do-some place to explore and familiarize myself with, but one thing that didn’t seem to change, no matter what city in France I was in, was how in France, everyone seems to know where they’re going. There isn’t a rush or a panic to get to where you’re going like in the U.S. The French live life to the fullest each day and don’t rush the simple things that make life so wondrous. To the world, my colleagues and I are known as the first group from Harrison School for the Arts to represent the United States internationally, but to myself, I am someone who is just like everyone else-desiring to change the world and live life to the max.
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