Welcomed by the sounds of scooters and bikes, cars and buses, and of course the metro system, our group of eighteen became quite comfortable in Paris. We packed each day with mini history lessons from one of our group leaders as we visited monumental locations such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysées, and spots important to France’s role in the Holocaust. We made memories during breakfast at the hotel, became friends with Parisians on the sidewalk, saw photoshoots, and played games in the park. We also enjoyed carnival rides, fruit flavored drinks, ate at cafés and did some shopping. However, some things happened on in Paris that we chalked up to the phrase: “c’est la vie.” For example, our missing metro stops and the constant smell of smoke in the air which fortunately brought the group closer together. Paris Part One was an unforgettable experience that only amplified our excitement for our homestays.
The warm greetings only continued in Nancy, our homestay location, as our new “parents” greeted us with “des bisous” on the cheek. While the beginning of the homestay was a little awkward—as expected—the idea of homestays serving to “individualize the trip”, as one group leader says, began to ring true for most. A lot of us hang out with our host siblings and converse at the dinner table. Or cook with our host parents and play with their pets. Some even go wakeboarding on weekends while others see light shows during the week. We really become a part of their families. In addition to cooking with our host parents, the majority of the group enjoys trying new home cooked meals, especially when they are traditional French dishes such as quiches, crêpes, and Croque Monsieurs. After spending the weekend with our host families, we came back together as a group for outdoor activities such as biking, kayaking, sail boating, paddle boarding, and pedal boating. On Tuesday, we played mini golf, sharpened our archery skills, swam, and saw the Tour de France! Spending the day in Strasbourg on Wednesday, the group and a few host parents toured the city, and saw the European Parliament building in which the European Union convenes. We’ve done so much and yet we still have much more of France to see!
– Ijeamaka Achebe