Written by Pauline Graillot
Today I will share with you my first experience in the United States. Growing up I always had interest in the USA and the language. My dream was to live permanently there. Then I started taking mathematics lessons from my neighbor in Paris who happened to live with an American lady who came to France after college to practice her French and stayed her whole life, teaching English. I told her about my dreams and a few years later, I hopped on a plane to spend a whole month with the US family of this American teacher in Paris. I was 16 and it was my first solo trip. I was really excited to travel by myself and discover American traditions.
I arrived in Minneapolis after a few mechanical troubles with the plane I was on. When you have to land at La Guardia, NY, instead of the airport you were scheduled to go to, it’s most likely because something is wrong. And when you see people praying around you in the plane, something IS really wrong. But anyway, I made it safely, minus 1 piece of luggage that was sent to Houston, TX.
Cheryl welcomed me at the airport in Minnesota and took me on a tour to go to a bakery shop. I don’t remember that day well as it was 10 years ago, which shocks me. I remember being amazed by literally anything in the US: the houses, the roads, the walkways, the road signs… I also recollect that I was cold all the time because the AC was everywhere: in the car, the house, the bedroom, and the supermarket. I was afraid I was getting a cold.
The first few days were hard on me as I didn’t understand every word of English when people talked to me, but it got better with time and practice.
I have a sweet tooth, which everybody could tell you, and OMG, I love America for that. But… let me tell you a story: in the mornings, I remember that Cheryl and John cooked oatmeal or something similar, I don’t quite recall, and at the time, I thought it was one of the worst things I have ever tasted. I could smell it from upstairs and tried to drink milk with it so it could taste better. Now, at 26, I eat oatmeal almost every day for breakfast and I love it. Please Cheryl and John, could you make that breakfast again so I can try it and have a different opinion?
Thanks to Cheryl and John, I met some nice girls at a summer camp and I was glad to hang out with people my own age, even though they kept asking questions about me, like “what is your favorite color”. I was quite shy at that time!
Then, they took me with to North Carolina for a week’s family vacation. The house was right on the beach just like in the TV show “Summerland” and I loved eating ice cream on the top deck of a nearby restaurant looking out at the sea. I cooked “haricots vert à la Pauline” which are green beans with tomatoes, and I was proud to make the family discover the French way of cooking. I improved my English really well during that week as I was hanging with children, and they don’t slow down to talk you! I had a lot of fun and started being relaxed and outgoing from that week on.
I was too proud to say that I missed my mom but I really did. I tried to call and email as much as I could but I also wanted to look like an independent grown-up. Overall, this month in the USA was a huge success for me as I went back for many summers after that!
I am thankful to my parents for letting me go explore the world and I also really thankful for Cheryl and John for letting me be a part of their wonderful families.
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