Aero: Christine Elizabeth – France 2015 – Epilogue
Aero: Christine Elizabeth – France 2015 – Epilogue
Coming into the reality that I was going to be able to go to France was huge. It wasn’t something I thought would ever happen. Before ever beginning this trip I had heard a lot about the French from locals in the area as well as NYC when I once lived there, so I had some preconceived notions about them according to what I had heard. Ideas and myths about how french women grow out their armpit hair, how the natives eat Snails called Escarole, and mostly about how stuck up and rude they were, hating Americans for even visiting their country. A lot of these rumors and myths I took into consideration before leaving on this trip. I didn’t want to come into this journey with negative preconceived notions or thoughts. So I decided to just observe when I was in France to see if these things were true. As well as I asked my host mom if some were true. Which turned out to be a very silly laughable conversation.
Although I had traveled to the Dominican republic before I still thought that other countries outside the USA had better methods of discipline, rules, laws, schooling, etc when compared to the USA. Now I can say after having been to France and living not only in the City as well as the country many of my former ways of thinking before I left for this trip have changed drastically. Here is what I learned: First and foremost, make your own decisions and form your own opinions based upon your actual experience in the subject, rather than just believing all the hum drum opinions you may hear from those around you who have not necessarily experienced anything, but rather are just forming their opinions based on gossip and myth. Secondly the French people, All of them (but two random people walking the streets upset by God knows what) – were super nice, friendly, respectful and loved to laugh just like us. Third, yes the women do grow out their armpit hair, I know because that was one of the discussions me and my French mom (host mom) had, she asked me flat out what were some of the stereotypes American people had about the French. Another thing I learned was that the French are very respectful about the level of noise that is made in any given place. It is a cultural norm for people to talk very low key and soft in any given place. Even in a city as big and numerous as Paris, I would have expected to hear a lot of noise in the Airport, Subway and streets with all the people but no. It was very quiet and I didn’t hear cars going by with radios blaring or streets filled with laughter and loud talking or yelling across the streets as I did in NYC. That was very strange for me. I am used to seeing people smile at each other in the street and or striking up a conversation with a total stranger like its no big deal, well not in France. The culture looks at things like that as strange and rude, I definitely missed seeing and experiencing that on a daily basis when I was in France. Also the legal drinking and smoking age in France in 16, therefore you have kids drinking and smoking at a younger age , yet you don’t see the binge drinking and Drunk driving issues like we have in the USA because in my opinion, since the legal age is younger in France the kids learn to use these things responsibly in the way they see their parents and peers doing it, and because it isn’t illegal there is no need to abuse it like there is in America. That was one benefit I saw in France over the USA
There were moments that I thought were the best things we did in France and some I would probably rate as the worst. The best moments I had in France were the times we as a group did things that we all were like minded about. For instance Ayla, Kelsey and I wanted to put locks on the bridge with our loved ones names on it. So in unison we all did it, and the other students, Kim and Reno photographed the moment and it just made it all that more special because it was something we did collectively as a group and we all shared in the joy of doing it. Another Fun time was when a few of us raced in these kid sized bicycle go carts around a track, it was special because honestly the bike carts were really for kids, but we Americanized the moment by being silly Americans and riding in them and having a race, This silliness in return made the owner very happy and open to joking with us and playing along in our silly charade. That made me feel good that we broke the boundary of language with an act of fun. It showed me how humor an international language, because many times I was able to make the native French people laugh with gestures, tone of voice, facial expressions, and lots of enthusiasm when in reality I spoke very little French at tall, and I believe it helped them to open up to me and appreciate my efforts in trying to not only communicate in their language but also make them laugh. Another great moment was when I saw the Eiffel tower at night for the first time when we took a boat ride on the Sennes river. I cried briefly because it touched my heart knowing that I had finally achieved my dream of going to France since I was a kid, and that symbol of France, the Eiffel tower just hit home and made me appreciate the experience I was having by standing out like a sore thumb as my pinpoint of a goal I had achieved. Walking through Monmarte was probably one of my favorite moments as well because I had researched this place before we left and had wanted to explore the area. It had a lot of cool graffiti and boutiques that I wanted to visit, the streets seemed like what I imagine Italy would be like with narrow cobblestone roads lines with small cafes and shoppes. Very chic and Downtown Manhattan feeling to it as well. What I really enjoyed the most though honestly, were the moments I had with the group or individuals from our group, walking around exploring the city, talking, shopping and of course eating. They were the best because it gave a feel of freedom and really what it would feel like to be a native and live the daily life of shopping, traveling, eating out with friends and just having a good time.
Now there were only a few moments I would say were the “worst”. I really wasn’t a fan of the Musee de Orsay, just because I personally wasn’t interested in these works of art, and nothing really appealed to my interest. Also when we went to the inside of Notre Dame as well as many other cathedrals we visited (besides the one with the most amazing bible story on the stained glass-that one was phenomenal) all seemed too gloomy and cold for my personal taste.
All in all this was a phenomenal trip, I am so glad I was able to participate in it and go make my dream come true. It has changed my personal outlook on not only France but also America and other cultures. I have gained a deeper understanding of the French culture as well as a great appreciation for our own culture. I believe both cultures can benefit from one another and learn things from each other if given the opportunity and chance. Every thing that I experienced in France best or worst, has shaped me even more into the cultured well rounded woman I wish to be and emulate those characteristics and values to those around me from what I gained in France. It has opened my eyes to the opportunity of traveling and given me the confidence boost to go out there and make things happen! I look forward to traveling more abroad in the future and grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime that opened those exact doors to do so! A Bientot!