Trip Start Jul 11, 2008
Trip End Aug 06, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, August 11, 2008

Well it has been exactly 26 days since I left home on July 11th.  My last day in Europe was spent in Normandy and Paris.  Agathe and I took a train at 7pm  from Normandy to Paris, so we had a full day in Normandy.  After breakfast, Agathe, Brain (her little brother), and I went into to the center of town, Villers-sur-mer, and walked through the market place.  It was like a French Farmer's Market basically.  After lunch back at the apartment, we went over to Deuville.  On the way there, we went atop a bluff and were able to overlook miles upon miles of the Normandy country side.  Atop of this bluff were numerous German bunkers and cannon positions.  A few of them we were actually even able to enter and see what the German's saw from inside these dug out bunkers. 
After, we made our way to Deuville, only about 20 minutes away. With a good view hours to kill, we walked the city and made our way to the beach.  I think Agathe and I spent a good 2 hours just sitting on the beach and people watching.  I of course, enjoyed my French Baguette while doing so. 
We met back up with Agathe's parents and brother at the train station.  Little Brian was really cute, he liked me a lot and saw me as an older brother.  They waited outside the train as we left and we could see that Brain was so sad about our departure that he was crying.  This week was the first week I truly was able to feel what it would be like to have a little brother, it was pretty unique. 
                The train took 2 hours to Paris and then we took the Metro and RER to Agathe's grandparents house for dinner.  The French don't eat as much as the American's but what they do eat is amazing.  I can't get over how good their bread and their desserts are.  After dinner, Agathe's grandpa drove us back to her house.  I packed, until 2 am.  As always, this is an elongated process for me.  I guess I think to enjoy the experience.  I evened out my bags so my check-in was an exact 23 kilos, the equivalent to our 50 lbs maximum.
                Agathe's grandpa took us to the airport in the morning.  Of course, I couldn't leave without more complications you know.  Traffic was bad on the way to the airport, at times we were completely stopped.  Once we arrived at the airport, it was worse.  Unlike SFO or SMF, there are no signs directing passengers to specific terminals for certain airlines.  CDG has 3 terminals, I arrived at 2 so I figured it would be the same.  No, now I've only got about 90 minutes and I'm not even at my right terminal.  We rush over to terminal 2.  Construction so we had to park in the parking lot and there was no drive up access.  I finally make it to the Luftansa desk and get checked in.  At security they inspected my bag.  Everyone here speaks English, but I usually respond in French when I can.  Security is much less stressful here than it is in America, I noted that on my way here as well. 
                My flight from Paris to Frankfurt was delayed 30 minutes, so even though I was running late, I still had to wait for an hour.  On the plane, they give complementary wine.  Of course, I soaked up the benefits  of being in Europe to the very last fight.  Once I arrived to Frankfurt, it was a mess.  They had to re-issue everyone's boarding passes.  After standing in 3 lines for an hour, I got through all of that.  The plane was too big to be at the gate so they bussed us out to the tarmark to board.  This was pretty cool.  This 747 is newer than the first one and just a magnificent site from the ground. 
                So now I'm 10 hours into my 12 hour flight.  Rochelle, your laptop has held up just great, thank you so much. 
                After passing 4 weeks in Europe, I've noticed everything is just a little bit different.  Everything all the way down to the pink toilet paper, car's don't have the same rims in the front and back, everything is smaller, I found myself ducking a lot, driving styles, the fact that one can buy beer at McDonalds, even the aluminum cans that your soda's come in.  The can's are heavier at the bottom and I always thought I had more soda left when it was really empty as a cause of that.
                Embarking on a 4 week journey to stay with friends and families I'd never met was a pretty crazy and wild thing to do, but, I've truly enjoyed so much about this trip.  I've learned a LOT about myself and I've had a lot of time to think about what I want to do with my life along with how many things, places, and people there are to see, meet and experience in a lifetime.  While I had some of my hardest times in London, I also had my most memorable moment.  Cruising through downtown, busy, chaotic London with my backpack and ipod in, in a foreign country where I truly knew no one and was staying all on my own, with the ability to do whatever I wanted, I was truly ON MY OWN and loving it.  Listening to good music completely takes the stress and chaos out of the busy city life.  I loved this feeling that I had being in this big city completely on my own, but fully content with myself and enjoying the world while listening to my John Mayer.
                Over the past 4 weeks, I've traveled 15,000 miles, taken 4 GB worth of photos and videos and wrote 20 pages with over 12,000 words in my travel blog.  I really like the European life and think they have solved some of the problems we have in America.  I've come to the conclusion that I want to study aboard here for at least a year, maybe two.  I hope that next year, I can return  and search for a university that would fit me well after my two years at Shasta college.  My French has improved dramatically.  I think if I continue to practice it and if I spent a year in France, I could definitely be bilingual. 
                Well, I've got one hour left till I see my family, I knew they are just dying to see me.  In just 10 days I move out and will be living in Redding.  School starts in 12 days.  Life is changing rapidly, but I'm loving every minute of it.  Thank you so much for taking an interest in my experiences this summer and thank you Martin, Helena, Coralie, and Agathe for letting me stay with you all.  Your families as well, thank you for all the wonderful experiences that will truly last me for a lifetime. 
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