I can remember taking the EuroStar from London to Paris six years ago. It is a particular train which follows a track in a tunnel under the English Channel; a cross channel link between England and France. In my father's home country of England, it is referred to as the "chunnel", and I had never seen anything like it before. I was captivated. I can vividly remember sitting in the seat across from my father. The French waiter served us medallion of sole and salmon with a hollandaise sauce and poured my father another glass of dry, crisp chardonnay. I peered out the window and felt the pull of the train's weight as I watched the last fragment of the English countryside evanesce and the darkness of the tunnel envelop us. The next stop was Gare du Nord, the "North Station" of Paris.
I had never been to France before, but in my mind I would envision Paris as it was pictured in the movies and my French textbooks: composed, colorful, cultured, and picturesque in it's serenity as if someone pressed the pause button on the Parisian remote and took a snapshot. The Paris that greeted me at the front door of the Gare du Nord was not quite what I had in mind. A whirlwind of sudden, swift, swirls of people and colors swept me off my feet and sent my mind into a dizzying frenzy. The French banter was cryptic and foreign to my ears, and the smell of cigarettes made me feel faint. French accents, smells, words, mustaches, left and right. They all lined the streets as my father and I weaved our way through the crowds. The overspill of culture was overwhelming yet intoxicating.
This was my first experience of being immersed into a completely foreign environment, and I felt like a fish out of water. However, I believe it to be one of the most enlightening feelings in the world because it forces you to engage with the natives and their surrounding way of life. This is why I am so passionate about traveling and strongly encourage individuals to travel or study abroad as much as they can.
As some of you may know, I recently studied abroad on a small, French, Caribbean island called Martinique, which is still a department of France. I am transfixed by how one language can change and evolve into a variety of unique dialects when fused with different cultures, like how the strict French mother tongue loosens into Martinique's Creole, a marriage of the French language with select African words and syntax. It was such an enriching experience for me to study a colonial culture and identify firsthand the alterations of the French language with the Caribbean influences of Martinique.
Thus, I am urging you, my fellow Whyvillians, to travel as much as you can and when you have the opportunities to do so. There is so much more out there, and it's there for us to explore it, discover it! It can only sophisticate your understanding of the cultures and languages of the world, and hopefully it will stimulate you even more to travel to other foreign lands. I can't help but think of this quote by Mark Twain, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
This is Morganna, convincing you to step outside of your comfort zone and experience the touch, sounds, smells, and tastes of an exotic tongue and culture. You won't be disappointed.