As an essential part of our Cultures, Connections and Communities class taught by Dr. Dianne Guenin-Lelle, we took a trip to France to put into practice many things we had learned about cultural understanding between Americans and the French. It was in our own way, a chance to try to blend in with the people and integrate into their society. In the moments we spent there, we found ourselves truly understanding our place in the French culture. Here is my story.
I stayed with my family called, “The Amsler’s”. My mother’s name was Emmanuelle and my father’s name was Frédéric. I had one brother Alexis (almost 17) and two sisters Pauline (15) and Capucine (12). If you could imagine the moments leading up to the first meeting between us all, I was really nervous and I had no idea what to expect or how they would think of me. I hoped their first impression of me would be very good. I meet my father first and the excitement I could see in his eyes enlightened my world. I couldn’t help but smile. The first handshake was firm yet polite I think. From this moment on I knew that my family would be the greatest and as it turns out, they are.
Before going, we learned much about family life in France. We learned kids were raised to show respect and obedience to their parents. This was true! Also, we learned that American and French relationships usually crumble due to a language barrier. Indeed. This, I found to be very annoying when I would try to communicate ideas. Having studied only 4 years of French, it was still quite difficult to communicate with others. But their accepting nature and openness in Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly was amazing. I felt at home and at ease over there despite my French.
I made many connections between American and French culture, most interestingly in the educational system in France. A trip to a famous High School that teaches restaurant skills, qualities and business inspired me to look further into its foundation. The system has two separate pathways that the kids choose (one academic and one technical). I find this interesting because it is nothing like I have ever seen before or what we have here in the U.S.
This experience has influenced the direction I’m heading in here at Albion as well! I want to change my major to international studies and business now. This is something I feel necessary. But the best thing that this trip has given me is a new family, one that I have learned to love just as much as my own!