Breathing in the sun on the brick paved sidewalk overlooking the Seine River, my French correspondent and I licked our savory gelatos. I couldn’t believe I was finally in the city of romance. I’ve been waiting to go back since the jetlagged, one day trip my family and I took to Paris several years ago. Nonetheless, when I have a passion there’s no stopping me in pursuing it. As soon as the once in a lifetime opportunity presented itself, I kept my eye on the goal: living the true Parisian life. I often dreamed of what it would be like to walk down Parisian streets every day and eat baguettes with every meal.
After years of unraveling the language, in and out of class, my French teacher offered to involve me in a French student exchange. But before getting excited, I would have to convince my skeptical parents to allow me to live with a stranger in a big city. My argument opened by expressing how one should truly live within the customs of a country rather than watch it through a camera. My parents logically nodded along and even encouraged me to do just that, however they did not imagine me to immerse myself so soon. Their enthusiasm wavered when I told them about the French exchange because it involved me traveling alone and living with a stranger. Having lived all my life with them, the idea of letting me go was terrifying. I slowly rebuilt their confidence and finally gained their support once they realized my passion for the trip. Ecstatic, I began counting down, but I also had to keep my other commitments in mind. I promised myself I would raise my spending money for the trip, so I worked many months at the local Children’s Museum to earn it. I also focused on my homework to make certain I would not fall behind. Preparing for departure was well worth the effort.
Finally in Paris, the city exuded joie de vivre. With a few other students and my French teacher, we walked through the streets and marveled at the historical architecture. Appreciating the Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees in the morning, we lazed with our French peers in the evening. As one might expect, we sipped coffees at a nearby café and the French elegantly smoked their cigarettes in a stereotypical fashion. Embracing the nonchalant attitude of the teenagers, I couldn’t help but feel like a character in a chic, romantic movie. I even became comfortable learning math in French as I sat in the classroom. It is clear that with an open mind I can adjust to any culture.
The trip did not only strengthen my fascination with other cultures, but also proved that any goal can be achieved. A large poster of the Paris in my bedroom reminds me every day of the adventures I have had and those sure to come.
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