I wanted to tell you about my time in Paris. All in all, it was an “amazing,” perspective-altering experience. “Amazing,” is what I have been using to describe it to most people back home, and yet I don’t find that it is the correct word. Perhaps there is no correct word that can accurately describe the experience I had while in Paris.
In my opinion, the stay was as great as it was because of three prime components: the culture and excursions, my classmates, and the courses and French in general. When I had first arrived at the airport, (and I did enjoy a pleasant flight) I had become mildly nervous in having to communicate in French in order to find my way. This nervousness did not last long once I had met up with the program leader, Luc Molbenh, who was a huge aid in teaching me the ways of the language. His support was unyielding, and he was “d’accord” with the endless questions I had over how to say this and how to say that. Thus, the helpfulness of the group leaders, not only Luc Molbenh himself, but all of them in general, made up a lot of the experience.
At the airport, now accompanied by Luc, we set out to meet the many other students from other countries who would also be arriving that Sunday. This brief moment also “made” my trip, when I realized that there would be only one other student from the States (coming from New York) and that the other fifteen would be coming from a variety of other countries. It truly was nerve-racking to meet them, but once we had passed the greeting jitters, we really enjoyed each others’ company, as we were able to converse over differences in their countries, their cultures, and their languages.
This diversity was perhaps one of the most immediately pleasing components of the trip. I had been absolutely stunned by the opportunity I had to live with them, eat with them, have class with them, make jokes with them, and play sports with them.
French!!!! The prime reason for my choosing to travel to Paris! Well, once I arrived, I realized that my love for Paris while in Chicago was, actually, not true love, well, to an extent. No, true love for the French language and culture did not befall me until I had actually arrived in Paris. The attachment I would make with the city would be such that would make my departure incredibly difficult. It would be even more difficult for me to leave, when, at the end of the stay, I had realized the massive improvements I had made in the language, in both the understanding of grammar and in communications.
I must say that, all in all, it was both the classes in conjunction with applying what I learned every hour of the day that led to my overall improvements. Though finding it difficult to communicate during the first two days, I soon found myself holding lengthy conversations with both my classmates and the leaders of the program. It brought me much joy to see my French skills shoot up like Le Tour Eiffel!!!
Once I returned home, I felt both a mixture of joy and sadness when I realized that I could no longer speak French openly with just about anybody around me. I had actually found myself in the situation at the airport whereas I would respond in French and the employee with whom I was speaking would question me. Of course, I would catch myself doing this, and it would bring me a longing to be in Paris.
Another very important component of the trip was that of the sight seeing. Having visited several famous locations around Paris nearly everyday after class, these excursions were some of the highlights of the whole trip. Some of the locations we visited included L’Arc de Triomphe, Le Champs Elysees, Versailles Castle, le Notre Dame Cathedral, La Tour Eiffel (what a wondrous view!!), Montmartre et le Sacre Coeur, le Louvre, and Disneyland Paris. I had a great time at every one of these locations, though I must say that La tour Eiffel, the Louvre, and perhaps Versailles Castle were among my favorite.
Well, an amazing experience all in all, an experience that continues to vibrantly echo at this moment and that I am certain will continue to do so until my return to Paris. Now back in Chicago, I acknowledge that I have returned with a different perspective on the world as a whole. This perspective is more so an acknowledgment of how much more there is in the world than what I have grown up knowing in Chicago. Though I have grown up influenced to believe that it is in the United States where “everything is,” this is very much not true. No, the possibilities and opportunities outside of the states are endless, and I say this from having only visited France. I cannot be more grateful for this awareness-enhancing experience, this experience that has permanently altered my perspective. I must say that I am loving the new view, and I look forward to further travels. Alors, thank you Greenheart Travel!!!