"What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago." --Erica Jong
As a child, I thought I had seen all that life had to offer on my family vacations to Ocean City, Maryland. The three-hour drive to the ocean as a child seemed to take an eternity, but I couldn’t imagine a more magical place. As I got older though, I often stood on the shoreline and wondered, “What was on the other side of the ocean?” I soon got a glimpse at the other side of the ocean when my parents took my sisters and I on a trip to France when I was in the second grade. As a seven year old, I was mainly excited about visiting my cousins who had lived there my whole life. I definitely didn’t anticipate how different France would be from the US. The different language, food, and way of life made me feel like I was on a different planet. However, even as a child, I loved the thrill of being in a new culture. We were lucky enough to stay with my cousins who lived just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. One of things I remember about this trip was staring at the tower’s bright lights through the kitchen window. I loved how it lit up the night sky because it made me feel like I had a huge night-light watching over me. My parents also took me to visit the famous Louvre Museum where I saw the Mona Lisa for the first time. I remember my parents enthusiastically telling me the significance of this painting and it instilled in me as a young child an appreciation for art. I want to travel back to Europe as an adult to have a new appreciation for artists both from the past and present. My two-week family adventure ended with a weeklong trip to the south of France where my cousins’ grandparents lived on a working vineyard. I had never felt more culture shocked as when we pulled up to their cottage and I realized there was no hot water, there were holes on the side of...
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