By: Samantha Lamar
Each year, the Attleboro High School (AHS) Foreign Language Department plans a trip to a foreign country. This year, the trip was to London, England, the Normandy region of France, and Paris, France.
Being in a foreign country is a truly new and unique experience, especially for people who have never left the U.S. The language, the food, the people and the houses are all different in other countries. People who have never left the country don’t realize how dramatically diverse life is around the world.
In London, the famous landmarks are much more extraordinary than photographs can capture. Seeing the pictures come to life was one of the best parts of the trip. Everyone dreams of seeing the cities they’ve only ever heard of, and finally, being there was extremely surreal.
London is very similar to any major city, like New York City or Boston, but is much cleaner and smells nicer. The skyline is clad with modern, glass skyscrapers but hidden on the winding lanes are ancient buildings and medieval treasures. The city is a colorful mix of new and old that meets along the cobblestone streets.
The sights of London, like Big Ben and the Tower Bridge, did not disappoint. They were just as awe-inspiring as their pictures.
From London, the trip moved to Portsmouth, England where an overnight ferry takes people from England to France. The ferry was the most unpleasant part of the trip, with cramped cabins to sleep in and limited entertainment but once it was over, France exceeded all expectations.
The Normandy region of France is a beautiful area of northern France, and is closest to the English Channel. It’s most famous for the D-Day landings by the Allies during World War II on its five beaches in Normandy.
Visiting the D-Day sights was very humbling. Omaha Beach, famous for the most casualties out of all of the D-Day landings, is now a quiet beach in a quiet town. It’s almost impossible to guess that 71 years ago that area was an entrenched bloody war zone.
All that remains now of the beach’s war-torn history is an immense metal sculpture commemorating the men who died on the beach that day. The dead are buried in the American Cemetery on top of the hills that lead to Omaha Beach in rows of white crosses and Stars of David. Being in the American Cemetery, which is officially American land, actually felt like being at home.
The little ocean town of St. Malo, only two hours away from Omaha Beach, was the perfect place to stay between Normandy and Paris. The old city is a medieval town with large walls all the way around. It’s a popular beach resort filled with rows and rows of shops and hotels for tourists.
The final leg of the trip was the most spectacular; Paris was more than ever imagined. Seeing places like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame for the first time were truly magical. The city itself is huge and crowded with tourists, and the streets are lined with food restaurants of every culture in the world.
Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night was by far the best part of the trip. It starts in an elevator to the second floor, and then a smaller elevator straight to the top. The whole of Paris can be seen from the very top, as winds whip around and the tower itself actually moves and shakes.
Europe is such a unique and exciting place, and going on the trip was rewarding as it created memories that will last a lifetime.