Bonjour from France: Regional Cultures

Bonjour à tous! Our first week in France has come and gone. Every single day was filled with super fun adventures!

On June 29, we arrived in Paris and were welcomed with the warm Parisian sun (that we would never see again). Our first adventure started right then and there; we visited La Cathédrale de Notre Dame and admired the beautiful architecture of the building. We were able to wander around Paris together and get a feel for the city. Just from the first day, we figured out that Paris is a very busy and tireless city. After Notre Dame, we stopped to eat some crèpes! The crèpes here are amazing! Every single one of us loved what we ordered (nutella and banana, sugar and lemon, cinnamon and sugar, etc). Très, très bons!

Later for dinner, we ate at a restaurant near our hotel where some of us tried escargot! It was loaded with pesto and butter, and we really liked it. The French really take their food seriously! Everything we’ve had has been so, so, so good. Also during dinner, we played games and got to know each other better. It honestly felt like we had all known each other for a very long time, not just 24 hours!

Our second day was busy. In the morning, we rode the Paris metro for the very first time! It was scary, but having our group leaders guide us and having each other look out for one another made the whole thing less daunting. Our stop brought us to the Musée du Louvre, the biggest museum in the world! We saw the Mona Lisa with our own eyes, and it felt so surreal. (The painting is a lot smaller than the value it carries!) Then, in our little groups of threes and fours we wandered around the museum. One favorite piece was the Winged Victory of Samothrace. It was very big and had its own platform! After a couple hours in Le Louvre, we walked on the Champs-Elysées. It was a long walk, but talking to one another made it 10x more fun! We got to see L’Arc de Triomphe and La Tour Eiffel! So far, these experiences are so grand that they don’t even feel real-it’s crazy!!

On our third day, we visited the Grande Mosqueé of Paris and it was super beautiful! The walls were lined with tiles of different colors. We also got to witness a party for the children who did very well learning Arabic and it was really cute!

After three days in Paris, it was time to go to Nancy for the homestays! We’ve been talking about them ever since we got to the airport. We heard many people’s fears about it such as “Will they like me?”, “Are we going to be distant?”, “I don’t know French, what should I do?.” The list goes on, but Mary Frances and Kate believed in us, and if they think we can do it, what can stop us?

We woke up early Sunday morning, packed our things, and we were off. The train ride was very relaxing, and it gave us great views of farms, other villages, trees, hills, and animals. Then, the train stopped and we arrived at Nancy. The nerves hit us one by one, when the homestay coordinator came by to pick us up and take us to meet our homestay families. Everyone realized there was no turning back. The host families were waiting with smiles on their faces, and they were very excited to meet us. One by one we went off with our host families and the real adventure started. Once people got settled in, we were playing with our host siblings, exploring the city, or even playing with animals in the fields. From then on out, everyone knew it was going to be a fun time!