Aero: Kelsey Castro – France 2015 – My Expectations
As a relatively inexperienced traveler, I am looking forward to the new opportunities that this trip to France will bring me. I often think about the fact that I was born in the United States of America, and how sheltered many Americans are from the rest of the world. Living here, it is very easy to get caught up in day-to-day life without giving any thought to the plethora of other cultures that exist beyond our borders. I really enjoy reading about the lives of people from different cultures (their history, language, religion, music, country demographics, etc.). I know that being able to be fully immersed in a foreign culture for two weeks is really going to broaden my horizons.
I do not speak French, so I imagine that it will be quite an adjustment being in an environment where the primary language is not English. It will be an interesting experience to not understand anything that is being spoken around me. Although I will only be in France for two weeks, I do hope that I will pick up some of the language in the short amount of time I will be there. I am most worried about learning correct French pronunciation, but I have heard that immersion is the best way to learn! I did not know much about French before, but after being given this opportunity I have researched it quite a bit. I had no idea that French was the official language in 29 countries around the world (the number is even larger considering other countries where it is widely spoken but not official). I am now planning to take three semesters of French when I transfer, and I am hoping this trip will give me a head start to learning it!
I expect the overall atmosphere of France to be very different than it is in the United States. I assume that my senses will be overloaded with new sights, sounds, and smells, which I am very excited about! I can’t wait to be surrounded by the history and culture of France. I absolutely love history, particularly the history of Europe and Western Civilization (I have always been rather bored with American history in comparison). The United States is an incredibly young country. We don’t have castles, Gothic cathedrals, or any architecture that dates back to the Roman Empire. I have to say that this is the most exciting aspect about going to France for me. Having the chance to able to see history with my own eyes is something that I will be eternally grateful for. The fact that we get to experience Paris, a major metropolitan area, and the smaller cities of Rennes and Vitré while we are in France is wonderful. I am definitely looking forward to the opportunity to note the differences between French “city life” and life in the countryside.
I am extremely excited about travelling abroad, but understandably a bit nervous as well. I am a vegetarian and have quite a limited diet, so I am feeling a bit stressed about the eating situation. I know that food is a very important aspect of French culture, and I do not want to ever come across as disrespectful towards my host family if there is something that I do not want to try. Overall, I am really excited about meeting my host family and seeing how they live, and how it is different from my life at home. I am certain that I will learn a lot of new things, and hope that this will be an opportunity to build a lasting friendship.
An experienced traveler told me that when I get to France, I should take a moment to close my eyes and reflect on things. Why am I here? What is different about France? What sounds different, what smells different? Sometimes it is difficult to not get caught up in “tourist frenzy.” Of course, I am really looking forward to seeing the Eiffel Tower and other famous Parisian monuments, but I do want to make sure I take the time to really appreciate and experience the authenticity of France.
It is difficult for me to convey all of my expectations, having never been on an international trip to Europe. I expect the unexpected. I expect to learn more in these two weeks than I ever have in some of my semester long classes. I also expect to have fun, make unforgettable memories, and come home with many pictures and stories to share with my friends and family. I have said it before but I will say it again, this trip is truly the opportunity of a lifetime.