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Published: July 10th 2009
I'm not sure for other regions, but for my region this year there was a special with train tickets from May until September. For 35 Euros you could purchase a ticket for up to five people that was valid for two days for our regional trains the TER. The TER is a slower train and it makes many more stops than the famous TGV. This reduced ticket is a great way to see more of the region that I was staying in, so I took advantage of it. La baule is a famous beach were Parisians like to take vacation. The first time that I visited La baule it was five of my friends and me. To make it a really cheap trip, which was the point, we left on the first train on a Sunday morning and were able to make it to the super market before it closed. Most stores and restaurants in France close on Sundays. At the store all of us got what we wanted, and then we went to the beach. It was rather overcast and chilly that day so we sat on the beach first and ate lunch. After about mid-day it began to warm up and then we decided to test the water, which was extremely cold. However, it turned into a beautiful day. We sun bathed and then took the last train of the day to Angers.
The second time that I visited La baule it was just my friend David and me. This time it was the first Monday of the week of exams. It so happened that it was a holiday so we had no school. This time we decided to eat at this cute restaurant that had a specialty of seafood, since we were next to the ocean. In comparison to my first trip, it was a very nice day, sunny. So after that we went down to the beach and found a nice spot. We were both tired and ended up falling asleep on the beach for about an hour. Once we woke up we realized that our backs were sun burnt, but that was ok. We spent essentially the whole day just sun bathing and then we went back on the last train to Angers like before.
I think that it is so nice to be able to explore France on a whim like that. I was able to see a different culture that I would not have been able to experience.
I found it extremely hard to pack my things to come back to the US. My last few days I spent as much time as possibly with my friends. On the very last day, my house mother told me that she couldn't come to the train station. After I asked her why, she began to cry, as did I. It was because she hated to see me leave. So my house father took me to the train station, and I cried the entire way there. Once there, he explained to me all of the steps that I would have to do to get on the train; even though he knew that I had taken many trains before. He told me that he would stay with me until my train came, and I told him that it was ok because I had my friends coming. So at that point we said good bye and we both began to cry. Once he left my friends appeared and they all gave me a big hug and I just cried. David put it in a really nice way for me because he told me that I wouldn't be crying the way I was unless I didn't love my house parents and my friends. It was a terrible day; I was stricken with grief. I had to leave on a Saturday because trains on Sunday mornings would not be able to get me to the airport in enough time to catch my plane. Therefore, I stayed in a hotel close to the airport that night. Sadly to say, I cried myself to sleep that night. I was conscientious enough to keep it together in the airport and on the plane because I didn't want to look suspicious. I was exhausted and I fell asleep quickly on my flight to Germany. My flight left late and I got to my gate to leave Germany for the US just as the announcement for all passengers to board sounded on the intercom. My 10 hour flight to the United States was uneventful, and a few tears were shed each hour. Once back in Atlanta, it took me about an hour to receive my baggage to go through customs, and then I saw my parents for the first time in four months. At that point there were even more tears, but these tears were tears of happiness. I didn't really have jet-lag because after two previous visits to Europe I know how to time my sleep on the airplane so that I will be on a normal schedule.
Looking back on my experience I feel that I have learned enormous amounts, and I have matured as well. I'm glad to know that I can always stay with my house parents in France, and I have many friends that have said that their home is my home. I look forward to returning hopefully sooner than later!
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