Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Epilogue
Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Epilogue
What I learned about myself, while traveling in France, is that I am not afraid to go outside of my comfort zone and take some risks. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone to depart from my family and travel to a foreign country for two weeks. It seemed forever away until it was the day before and I scrambled to pack my bags. I definitely didn’t forget anything, and obviously brought way too much. I do not enjoy being away from my family, but the chance to study abroad, was an adventure that I had to participate in. Even my wife said, that I should go. If I didn’t, I would be missing a possible once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope that it is not the case, and that I can return to the country that opened its arms to me for two weeks. I appreciate all of the help and support that she had given me as I prepared myself for international travel. She did all of the little things that I surely would have forgotten if I had to rely on myself. I cannot thank my wife, son and my in-laws enough for adjusting their schedules around to enable me to travel. I will forever be grateful.
I believe, no matter what country you are a citizen of, that people are inherently nice. All that it takes is a little effort in respecting the culture and language of the country you are visiting. Most people respond in a positive way, especially if you treat them in the manner in which you would like to be treated while you are there. People are more willing to assist you if you show a little effort. I found this to be true especially when shopping or visiting a café. If you make the initial attempt at speaking the native language, even if it is not perfect, you get a much better response from the owners. They seem to be appreciative of the fact that you are at least trying to communicate in their native tongue. All it took was to have shown a little bit of effort, and the storeowners or booth owners would try communicating back at us in English, if we didn’t understand. It was a nice little give and take relationship that happened spontaneously each and every day.
International travel is an experience that hopefully many more students will be able to be a part of. Not only does this allow you to compare and contrast how each society differs, it allows complete immersion in unfamiliar surroundings. When you are far away from the comforts of normal daily life, and are forced to assimilate into another culture quickly, it really makes you take an inner look at yourself. I realized that I was able to quickly adapt to my surroundings. The language was the biggest I had while traveling, and by the end I was able to send my wife an entire email in French. The grammar may not have been perfect, but I was confident enough to be able to do so. It is amazing how much you can pick up when that is all you hear, see and become a part of. After only two weeks, words that I say on a daily basis were being erased and its French counterpart was taking its place in my brain. I can only imagine how much I would have been able to understand if I had the opportunity to be there for a month. It really puts your entire life into perspective as a global citizen.
The history, culture, language and food are things that will forever hold a place in my heart and brain. As far as the history goes, no textbook will ever be able to replace what it feels like to be where history occurred. We were fortunate enough to be able to walk on the very same roads, sit in the churches where kings of France sat, and run the sand of Omaha beach through our fingers while smelling the salty sea air. These are but a small few of the many wonderful things that we experienced while in France. We had wonderful instructors that lead the way for the majority of the trip. Professor Kruger and Professor VanEtten would interject different pieces of information and history that would make you think about what you were looking at, or prepare you for what you were about to.
Each and every building, work of art, and historical site that we visited while in France summed up the trip in a brief nutshell. Life changing thought altering, informative, absolutely wonderful trip that I would love to be able to go on again. I absolutely recommend that anyone that has at least a little bit of interest in going, DO IT! You will never forget it, and regret it if you don’t.