France: Cultural Discovery Student Reflections (Group 2)

Arriving at JFK Airport in New York City, we met up as a group for the first time at the food court and immediately began learning each other’s faces, names and interests. We said our bittersweet goodbyes to our family members and flocked our way onto the plane that would soon bring us to our very first and most anticipated destination: Paris, France.

Getting off of the plane after a six hour long, overnight flight we step into European soil in awe and immediately get to our hotel room. I remember the entire bus ride there everyone was looking out the windows trying to read the French street signs and watching the people pass by us on the sidewalks. Many of us were just beginning to come to grasp with reality that we were actually in France and that we would really be spending the next three weeks experiencing our own unique rollercoaster of cultural adjustment and immersion.

For the next few days, we were able to experience several of Paris’ most beautiful and historical landmarks and buildings. We ate authentic French food and sat down at charming French cafes. 

The morning we left Paris we all knew exactly what destination we were off to next: Nancy. We would be traveling to our homestay families where we would spend the next week living in the house of a French family. Everyone was nervous and anxious to learn who they would get paired with; we worried about the language barriers we might be faced with or whether we would get along with our family or be able to adjust well enough. Before we knew it, the week had flown by at the blink of an eye and we all learned that our worries were for nothing.

Many of us came out of that week long experience with our own personal memories and close relationships with our host families and friends. Many of us did not want to leave and some even shed a tear or two as we boarded the bus to Germany. We continued our journey all the way across the European borders in Freiburg, Germany where we spent the next three days struggling to remember to say “Danke” instead of “Merci” to people we encountered. Here we saw the quaint and charming little neighborhoods and historical villages of Freiburg, swam in the lake, and ate ice cream in the Black Forest.

Coming back to France we stopped in Alsace before making our way back to Paris where we all to soon will draw this trip to its conclusion. Coming to Europe has been a personal and culturally enlightening experience for everyone and we all are truly sad that it has come to an end. Traveling to Europe has allowed us all to create lasting memories and friendships while at the same time gaining quality knowledge and experience which we will take with us for the rest of our lives.

Written by Mariah White, Experimenter