Two and a half days ago news broke that the city of Paris was under attack. As the evening unfolded we watched the death toll go up higher and higher and speculation of who was involved began. The world stood together this weekend when countries around the globe turned on their lights for Paris, the city of lights went dark.
After reaching out to my friends/family in France and knowing that they were okay I spent a lot of the weekend taking in the ongoing news of what had happened.
France was my home for a summer. I consider my friends who live there part of my family. We don’t talk every day, some times we go six months without talking but at the end of the day we pick up right where we left off. As the news about their country continues to unfold I am simply heartbroken for them.
12 years ago I boarded a plane with 30 other American teenagers. Less than 2 years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 we heard on a daily basis about “French” being dropped from French Fries and French Toast. We sat through a lecture on how to blend in with the culture, what daily life was like and how to get the most out of our summer abroad. At 16 years old I was more excited than scared.
Just 2 days after arriving in Paris we were sent on our homes for the summer. I boarded a train alone without a cellphone, internet access or any idea what I was getting myself into. Waiting for me on the platform was my family for the summer and I couldn’t have gotten luckier.
I spent my summer learning a foreign culture. There were late nights, family dinners, inside jokes, trips around the country, horse back riding, trips to the pool and life long friendships made. For four weeks I was immersed in the French culture as the little American. Living in the French countryside I was lucky to take trips up North and down South.
There were good days and there were days that the language barrier had me in tears. At the end of the summer I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world. France became my second home.
We don’t talk every day. In fact, we don’t even talk every month, but at the end of the day I consider my French family part of my real family. They brought me into their home, they taught me their culture.
This weekend their country was hurt. For them I am heartbroken.