Aero: Piper Lambert-Vail – France 2018 – Epilogue

Aero: Henry Livingston - France 2018 - Epilogue

Aero: Henry Livingston – France 2018 – Epilogue

Piper Lambert-Vail

Piper Lambert-Vail

My entire life I’ve been listening to people say things like “[place] changed me!” or “I can never look at America the same way after going to [place]”. I’ve heard it so much that it has become somewhat of a cliche. A person spends a few weeks abroad and comes back changed. But that is EXACTLY what happened to me. I experienced so much on this trip and in this class, I can hardly believe it was only two weeks. Before leaving for France, my whole family, excluding me, had this uppity attitude about how the French act (in their minds) and I never really found it upsetting or wrong but I didn’t necessarily think it was correct either. And once I came back, I realized that

One thing that really stuck with me and changed how I view myself was something my friend Alex said to me. When we started talking at Fest Noz, I was being a total geek (something I am used to) and I thought that he thought I was weird so it came as a bit of a shock when he said I was cool. I asked him what he meant by that because no one had ever called me cool, ever. He said that I was the type of person that would’ve done well in the friends department during school. This made me realize that in school in France, students don’t find the same kinds of people cool as we do in America. Which is a big relief because all through middle and high school I tried my hardest to be out of the “cool” circles and stay with my small group of friends.

I have two experiences that, to me, were the “best”. I say “best” because the entire trip was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. My utmost favorite thing from the trip happened while we were in Paris. It was the second night in Paris and Alaina and I wanted to explore a little after dinner. We talked to Madame and got the all clear and set out with Dallas to find a nice cafe. We ended up just a block or so away from the hotel, at this small cafe (which we would then pass every day on our way to places). It was very cozy, the interior looked almost like it could be from the 1930s. Our server was this incredibly outgoing and large man. When he gave us the menus, he tried getting us to try his favorite, and the best, wine but we said we’ll stick to coffee. As he went around to other tables, I taught Alaina and Dallas how to say their orders in French. Over the course of two hours, and two coffees, we talked and laughed and had a great time just relaxing and sharing a night in Paris. I drew some doodles on Dallas’ arm, which were quickly followed by praise from our waiter, and at the end of the night, we made a deal we’d come back to that cafe at least one more time while we were in Paris. Over the next few days, Alaina, Dallas, Henry, and I became a close group of friends. So on the last night in Paris before Vitre, we decided to take Henry to the cafe and have coffees and talk. That night was a little less whimsical than the first, but it was still a happy time. We talked for hours, tried different coffees, and shared stories of crazy breakups. Even now, my heart is happy when I think about those two nights.

My second favorite experience during the trip was Fest Noz. No one was excited for the dance, Alaina, Dallas, Matisse, and Thomas were very vocal about it. But I had an amazing time. I met someone I consider a good friend now, I danced with my friends and people I consider family, and I got to relax and be myself because I knew that I wasn’t going to see anyone after the trip so if I was a fool, that was okay. I also enjoyed teaming up with Alaina to get Dr. Brown to dance. It was a struggle but we made it happen eventually.

In all honesty, the trip made me realize even more how unwell our country is. I have never really felt much national pride, it was hard for me to see the good when there was so much struggle. And after coming back from a country where people listen to each other, educate themselves, and understand who they are on a global scale, I only became more critical of America’s actions. Yes, France has its issues, it’s not a utopia, but I think that in certain areas, it is FAR more progressive than the US. That being said, I will not stop fighting to make our country better. It is because of France that I want to work harder to be a better global and American citizen.

Piper Lambert-Vail
Study Abroad – France 2018 @ FLCC

World Languages @ FLCC: France Study Abroad 2018

(Click here to browse the entire FLCC @ France 2018 Gallery!)