Aero: Kimberly Gage – France 2015 – My Expectations


Aero: Kimberly Gage – France 2015 – My Expectations
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

I know is that this is an opportunity of a lifetime, waiting for me to open the door to a new experience in my life. I cannot remember the last time I told myself to do something daring and to explore my surroundings away from my comfort zone. This experience will fulfill my lifelong wish to travel at least once outside of my home country. I know I can expect things to be very different, but I cannot begin to accurately gauge that difference yet.


Kimberly Gage

I can expect housing conditions to be much smaller than our homes here in the United States. France is an older country than the US, so building developments and structures are very different (size, style and architectural influences). I wouldn’t say that all buildings are old in France; just a majority of them might be older than our country’s age! A lot of the buildings were influenced by the Romanized style of architecture with columns, facades, patios and so on. Their history and culture would reflect the philosophies of the Enlightenment period from the mid-1600s to the early 1800s. Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood are reminiscent of the French philosophers of this time period. Not too sure if I can describe it, but I can expect to see or “feel” this motto while I am in France; it is almost like a collaborative effort of their society, which is something we rarely see or experience in the US. It would seem that the French have a unified equal standard whereas some areas in the US are more of an “every man for himself” attitude. Not the best explanation I can give for “feeling” (or if it is even correct at all), but it is all I have at the moment.

I guess I never gave that much thought about school in a foreign country before, but I have heard from international students studying here in the US. Many I have spoken to have said that they had only three options to choose from; the sciences, business and English studies. There didn’t seem to be any ground in between where a student could change their major at any point in time. My current boss told me herself that this was the way her school ran her education programs in Taiwan. Knowing this, I have come to embrace the US education system more because we have the option to change if we do not like our major. I should think that French schools abide by the three educational tracks, but I will have to find this out for myself. As for technology in the classrooms, I would think that there are fundamental similarities between French and US schools. I don’t expect, however, computers to be all over the place. I don’t even know just where this belief is coming from. I just think some computers will only be found in public libraries, universities, computer labs in school (and possibly laptops for college students). Smartphones may not be as widely used as they are here in the US, but again I would like to find this out for myself.

As for family life, I can already expect that families hold a much higher priority in society than here in America. I have known for a long time now that French families will eat when all the family members are home. I believe there may be exceptions, possibly when a family member is working or visiting a friend, but I think those are very rare occurrences. Additionally, mealtime is always family time where members will catch up on what everyone else is up to. No texting or phone conversations at the dinner table! I doubt that French students rush out the door while still trying to eat their breakfast. It just doesn’t sound right to me. I have never believed that that is how breakfast should be eaten, and I have seen this in cartoon shows as well as breakfast commercials. It just doesn’t sound logical to do that, wherever you live in this world. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not inhaled! One of the many experiences I want to immerse myself in is the culinary dishes. I am the kind of person who is not afraid to try all kinds of foods! I want to savor and remember these dishes for many years to come.

When it comes to cities, I don’t really know as much about city life. I grew up in a rural setting so I don’t really know what it is like having to take a bus to get to work or to run errands. Public transit is pretty scarce when you live in the middle of nowhere. I still get pretty nervous when I have to drive into Rochester; if I don’t know exactly where I am going I get even more nervous and start worrying if I’ll reach my destination at a decent time. I guess relying on the public transit systems in France will help me get over this anxiety of missing my stop or something. This country bumpkin will learn about city life first hand in a foreign country! As for transportation, I am usually the kind of person who won’t mind driving or carpooling to the destination. I can remember two different times where I rode a train, but I was always afraid I was going to get off at the wrong stop or worse, miss my stop. Getting to know the metro system in France will help me lessen this anxiety. I have heard that the metro systems in France are easy to understand and more user friendly than in other cities.

Along with train rides and taking the metro, this will also be the first time in my life I will be on a plane for more than a couple of hours. I can only expect that the people I will travel with – both my classmates and strangers alike – will be a pleasant experience. However, I have heard about planes being delayed for so long that passengers will miss their next flight. I should hope that this does not happen to us on this trip. I wonder what this first 12 hour flight will be like for me. According to my parents, our family would fly across the US numerous times to visit family on the East coast. I was only an infant when we flew so I have no recollection of any of the flights I had been on. I would like to believe I am a good flier, but only time will tell if that is true or not!

Kimberly Gage
LEAF Contributor