by Aurelia Carrillo, CCI Greenheart Travel High School Exchange Student in France
I have been wanting to write for a long time, however it is quite a difficult thing to get around to. First there is school. Homework takes me about 4 times longer than it usually would, and I often do a lot of extra work, having not quite understood the homework. Second, there is applications for American colleges. Even those I have a hard time getting to because third, there is social life. One might think, and justifiably so, that my social life in France is, well, absent—especially considering my French really has a lot of improving to do. But someone must be looking out for me because luck is on my side. Having a sister my age, who herself has quite an active friend group, ameliorates my social life. I would feel guilty that I spend so much time out with friends and such, but really it’s just as good for learning as is doing homework.
Simultaneous to finally jotting down these notes of France, I am uploading photos to my computer, and of course to Facebook of my previous summer travels. I am reminded of the adventures and good times I had, and am deciding I better start my story there. Man, it almost makes me tired thinking I participated in all that fun and excitement just to land here. Here where I am absolutely on my own and absolutely have to speak the other language… well figuratively speaking.
It started rather simply, I traveled with my father, and in a country I have been before. Baby steps. He was able to translate for me, to buy things for me, and to cook for me. I was completely under guardianship. From there I went to Portugal. I was dependably accompanied by a “bestie”. My visit in Portugal definitely didn’t lack in companionship. In the beginning, I was welcomed by my best friends from home. The four of us ventured around Portugal, and when we got worn out, were able to reside in the neat and tidy home of a friend. Here home was equipped with a big flat screen TV and a mother who cooked wonderfully. Basically, we were “not really roughing it,” to steal the slogan of Beaver Creek ski resort.
I was the last one of us four to leave Portugal, so I could say it was then that I had my first toddler leap. Truthfully, though, by the end of my stay in this country, I had acquired my new and adored amigos de Portugal. With them I spent my last week in the enchanting little village of Folgosinho, concluding one of the best adventures of my life.
When it was finally—or more accurately, all to quickly—time to commence my journey to France, I was escorted to my train. Not by my parents, not by my friends from home, not even from the family I had come to Portugal to visit; I was escorted by one of these new Portuguese friends. It was there in the train, stuck behind my enormous suitcase only able to wave a good bye to a friend I desperately desired to give a big hug to, that I had my first stride into adolescence. From there I was on my own.
I would say I had a moment, a feeling of complete independence. I was finally completely on my own in this next adventure, and to an extent it was true. However, I can’t seem to grasp the validity of it. I had a family waiting to welcome my arrival. So even if I was alone for the voyage, I would again be taken again under the wing of a family. I would have guardianship. But the independence of the voyage, that too was quickly swept away. In my first train there was a family that helped me a bit with my luggage, and later made sure I was awake when my stop arrived, (the time was different by an hour, so I might not have been quite prepared if they hadn’t). Throughout the rest of my journey of three trains, I was aided by a father to find food, a mother and daughter up and down the stairs with my baggage to get into a train car (they were catching the same one as me), and finally a young man, with a purebred Jack Rustle Terrier, to catch my last train and order a salad. Over all I had rarely been totally alone. Throughout the entirety of my journey, there was someone willing to let me tag along or help me out. Either I am just really lucky, or there actually are a lot of people willing and wanting to help others out… or maybe it’s just Europe 🙂
Until next time,