My first days in France

“I hate moving,” I told myself as I crawled out of bed on January 3 at 3:30 in the morning.I was about to begin my six-month adventure in France, but to be honest, all I felt was fatigue.When I arrived at Sacramento Airport to board a plane to San Francisco and eventually to Dulles Airport and Paris, I had to expedite my good-bye to my parents in order to run upstairs and go through security.I tripped on the way up the stairs, of course. I remember thinking; at least my parents’ last impression of me is a fairly accurate and honest one.I sat next to a bohemian fellow on the plane to San Francisco. He was a guitar player with long dreadlocks, but he seemed kind enough.The plane we took was probably the smallest I’ve ever been on. The Bob-Marley-wannabe leaned over to me and whispered, “That emergency door looks like it’s been used more than a few times.”I hate planes.That day, I hopped plane after plane until I eventually ended up at Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C.I was immediately greeted by a representative from the foreign exchange program who took me to the right terminal where 3 other American students going to France were waiting.Casey, Christina, Elizabeth and I got along really well. Typically, students who study abroad are extremely outgoing and friendly – the perfect people to experience Paris with.When we arrived in Paris at 6:45 in the morning (Paris time), we brought our bags to the youth hostel, ate some breakfast, took a shower and immediately began walking around Paris.Our guide was a 30-year-old blond Parisian foreign exchange representative named Sabine.We traveled to central Paris by Metro and walked past Notre Dame Cathedral, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the capital building, and countless other landmarks.Paris is littered with history on every corner. It’s next to impossible to walk down a street without at least one famous sculpture or building.Parisians bustled past us in black pea coats and scarves while tourists stopped every ten seconds to photograph every inch of the historic beauty.Later that night, Sabine left and a 19-year-old Finnish girl named Ilva and a 26-year-old Australian named Adam arrived to take us to Montmartre.The mountain in the middle of Paris contained Sacré Coeur and the red-light district where the films Amélie and Moulin Rouge were filmed.We wandered through the streets and were approached by poor locals who make money by grabbing tourists using the hands of tourists to make bracelets with.Adam told us that after they finish making the bracelets, they ask for money in return and if the “customers” refuse, then their life insurance comes in handy.My time in Paris flew by and before I knew it, I was on a train to Toulouse to live with my host family.The train ride was six and a half hours long where I sat next to two young men and didn’t speak a word. I was terrified they would talk to me and I would have to speak my awful French.When I finally arrived at the station in Toulouse, I had two massive bags to lug off the train and didn’t really have the strength to do so. Two Frenchmen grabbed them for me without even asking while I mumbled numerous “merci’s.”The house in Toulouse is absolutely gorgeous. The 200-year-old estate of the family de Beaumont isn’t in the actual city, but more of a country home with horses, dogs, and a donkey.The city of Toulouse is about 20 minutes away by car and hosts the basilique St. Sernin along with ancient buildings made of pink brick, lending the city the name “La Ville Rose” – the pink city.I find myself in constant awe of the beauty and history of the town. Every street has a story, every house has been lived in by at least 20 different people.Though the town bustles with tourists, students, shoppers and businessmen – modern society – I wonder, do these people ever stop and think about who raced up these streets before them.It is so unlike Granite Bay, not because of the beautiful Pyrenees mountains that lay behind it, not because of the pink bricks or cobblestone streets.It is unlike Granite Bay because it has a history. It gives a feeling that even if every shop closed and every person left town, you could never be alone. The stories and artwork of the past lend their company and comfort like friendly ghosts of post-Revolutionary France.Every morning when I wake, I contemplate going back to Granite Bay. I haven’t started school here yet, and thus, am devoid of friends my own age. No doubt, things would be so much easier if I had continued my life at GBHS and graduated with my friends.Then I open my windows and look out over the green hillsides and snow-capped mountains. I gaze down at my new historical residence and take comfort in the fact that I’m not completely alone.“I hate moving,” I still think. Change isn’t easy for anyone. But I think I’ll adjust.

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