It was a privilege that I was given the opportunity to travel abroad and I couldn’t have done this without my family, the Bredon family, and Andeo. Sitting here, typing this, it still seems unreal that I was able to embark on a journey so unforgettable. Everyone wants to know how my trip was, what I did, what I ate, where I went, how I slept and to be honest, I could go on and on for hours talking about everything. For the times where I don’t have hours to ramble on about eating croissants under La Tour Eiffel, sunbathing in Aix en Provence, or picking fresh haricot verts from a garden in Normandie, I tend to shorten my experience to this recap: My trip was full of unreal adventures, mysterious foods, new relationships, growth in the French language, and confidence in my independence. But…since you have some time to read my post, let me elaborate.
To start our conversation, let’s imagine you and me are sitting on the streets of Paris, indulging in a fresh quiche lorraine with an ice cold Orangina in a small cafe. Only a street away from the Seine and surrounded in the hustle and bustle of small cars speeding by, busy businessman and woman taking lunch breaks, and of course...the infamous crowds of tourists. Here’s where I tell you that this is only one of the many adventures I was able to experience. To continue, I had incredible opportunities to see places like the Notre-Dame de Paris, Pyramide du Louvre, Pont Saint Michel, Panthéon, Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Colonne de Juillet, and so much more. My host family introduced me to every corner of Paris, the heat of the South of France, and the WWII history of Normandie. I experienced everyday adventures like travelling on the hot metro, grocery shopping in Saturday markets, watching French news and movies and one of the most awkward things, trying to eat breakfast lunch and dinner with a fork and knife.
On the topic of food, let me share some of my first time (not so favorite) tastings including, steak tartare, Carpaccio, Octopus pasta salad, ham and cantaloupe, raw salmon oysters, crab, camembert, and one of the weirdest: bow-tie noodles and ketchup. Don’t let me forget to tell you some of my favorites, and these might make you drool. I had French crepes, almond cakes, fresh macaroons, apple tartes, homemade ravioli, French bread, croissants, yogurt, delicious fruit, ice cream, and I could go on forever. Food was one of the biggest differences I noticed during my travels, breakfast was always cereal, bread, jam and tea, lunch was BIG and had multiple courses to it, and dinner was eaten so late and took a long time. Despite the differences, I enjoyed spending time talking and laughing, and eating cheese.
Spending time with the Bredons was my favorite part of the trip. I was nervous at first because I felt a huge language barrier, but as the weeks passed, and my French improved, we just got closer. Gabrielle (my French “sister”) and I would stay up late laughing almost to tears, her mother and I liked to talk about the differences of America and France, and her father and I would crack jokes back and forth at each other. The best part about speaking was that her family was patient and forgiving when I made mistakes. Having Gabrielle as my French exchange student twice and now me as her American exchange student has developed the most amazing international friendship and I could have never asked for a better one. Travelling abroad opened my eyes to finding my own independence. I was challenged and provided the opportunity of a lifetime to step out of the comforts of home and engage in a culture far different than mine. The connection with the Bredons will continue to grow, the memories I have made will never fade and I will forever be grateful for this opportunity!