Hello everyone! This is my last update for the blog as I returned to the United States from France last Friday after spending a few days in Paris with my group. I miss the people that I connected with in France, but I am so glad to be able to be with my family and friends in America again. I missed you more than you know!
I spent the early part of last week enjoying my final bits of time with my host family. Monday evening was my last night with them and we spent it singing and playing music with one another. The morning of departure on Tuesday was one of the hardest emotional experiences I have had because I had to leave a family that had been strangers 6 weeks before, and yet had so graciously opened their home to me and embraced me as one of their own. I am forever grateful to the RIOU family and will continue to stay in close contact with them.
On Tuesday, our group was able to see the Palace of Versailles where the “Sun King”, Louis XIV, had lived luxuriously. We also took a riverboat tour on the Seine where we got to see Paris by night (which will take your breath away). The next day was packed full with visits to the Louvre, the Musée d’Orangerie, the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Saint-Chapelle. We finished off with a dinner at a nice restaurant.
Our second day in Paris (and our last day in France) included the Musée d’Orsay, climbing the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Luxembourg Gardens and Les Invalides, seeing the exterior of the Moulin Rouge, and Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur. Our last meal together was accompanied by an intense karaoke session!
We spent a night without sleep getting ready for departure the next day. After arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, we checked into our flight to London, boarded the plane, and arrived for a layover in the UK around 9:30 in the morning. Once the wheels lifted off the ground in France, the obligation to speak the French language was lifted and we were allowed to speak in English. As a result, when I said “thank you” to the flight attendants and customs officers, I didn’t know who I was for a little while.
After a long flight from London to Chicago, I was greeted by my wonderful family. How amazing it was to see them again after 7 long weeks! We spent the car ride home catching up and struggling through the English language (on my part). It’s a bit surreal to listen to myself attempt to use English again and be able to hear the progress in my French skills.
Now, as I continue to process all that I learned and experienced this summer, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to God, my family and friends, and your support. It’s hard to sum up the summer in a few blog posts, but overall, I believe that this experience has left me a changed person. I look forward to seeking out more opportunities to use the French language in the future. Once again, thank you for your love and prayers. This would not have been possible without you and I am so thankful to have been able to share the journey with you.