On April 10, 2012 I set out on a trip to France with the French class. It was crazy, fun, stimulating, and an action-packed ten days. For the first five days our group was separated and we began our family stay. My French family consisted of three children, Laëtitia (17), Natacha (15), and Cyril (11). The parents were Philippe and Fabienne, a heating technician and an engineer in aerospace, respectively. The family spoke varying degrees of English. Laëtitia was the best at English, while the father, Philippe, knew very little, though one night at dinner he announced that he would try to learn.
The family was extremely kind to me and I honestly never wanted to leave. One day I realized how much of a bond I had formed with this family when Natacha told me that she was going with her father and brother to the Olympic Soccer match. This was only a day after I had to say goodbye to Laë titia, because she was going to Brittany for the rest of the week. Unfortunately, the family had been unable to get me a ticket to go to the match with them so I had to stay home with Fabienne as they went to the match without me. I was pleasantly surprised, however, after they left because Fabienne told me she was going to take me out and we were going to have fun sight-seeing. We went to La Défense, named after the statue La Défense de Paris that honors the Parisian resistance during the Franco-Prussian War. Fabienne called it “Little New York” as it’s one of the only places you’ll see skyscrapers, and it looks like a mini-version of New York. After a few hours, we went back home and we watched the soccer match on TV. It was against Lyon and Marseille. We were rooting for Marseille because it’s where Philippe is from. The match went into overtime and Marseille won by scoring the only point of the game. Fabienne and I went to bed and it was morning when Philippe, Natacha, and Cyril returned. Natacha brought me back a scarf from the match with the names of the two teams. (It’s now hanging in my bedroom). I thanked her and hugged her–I learned that the French aren’t used to hugging. Twice I tried to hug Natacha during my stay. The first time she stood there awkwardly while I was holding her. The second time, she kissed my cheek instead when I went in for the hug. Leaving my French family was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Thanks to email, I’m able to keep in touch with them.
After regrouping with my French class we went to several other tourist attractions: the home and gardens of impressionist Claude Monet, the American Cemetery, the Eiffel Tower (of course), and many others. But nothing will ever compare to the sheer cliffs of Étretat. I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. Standing on top of those cliffs was almost like standing on top of the world and then it became bittersweet when I realized this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I may never see this again.
When I came back home, I was exhausted, but it was a good kind of exhausted. The kind that you acquire when you feel as though you’ve been all over the world in 80 days or less. Then, like me, you realize that you’ve only seen a tiny part of it and there’s still 193 countries you haven’t visited.
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