Emily Kostbade’s experience in France teaches valuable lessons


Sarah Obermeyer, Managing Editor of Photography

An average flight time of just over eight hours. This flight includes 4,775 miles, open ocean, new countries, mountains, and more. The one thing it does not include, however, is any family or friends– they are all alone. This may not seem like a big deal, but the flight to France for junior Emily Kostbade was an obstacle she had to tackle.

“The hardest thing was getting there,” Emily said. “It was really intimidating. I was going to fly across the ocean all by myselfa�� [without anyone to] assist me. I was super nervous because I don’t speak any French.”

Emily’s trip to France originally transpired on the Internet after a daughter of her mother’s friend, Andrea, reached out to her. Her mother was an exchange student in her youth, and Andrea and Emily’s mothers were teenage friends. Things have now come full circle because the girls are friends and have both stayed with each other in their countries at each other’s homes.

Emily was in France for three weeks. For a majority of the trip, she was in Nantes, Andrea’s hometown. While there, Emily met new friends through Andrea. With her new friends, new unique struggles arose.

“A lot of [Andrea’s] friends didn’t speak fluent English,” Emily said. “I mean I know that everybody doesn’t speak English, but…. This person is the same age as me, but we can’t have a conversation at all. So that was really different.”

Emily is still in contact with some of the new friends she met on her trip. She says the experiences she had in France helped her gain a new appreciation for all the opportunities she has in the United States.

Emily also had the chance to go to Paris for three days. While there, Emily went and saw “the more touristy attractions.”

“Seeing the Eiffel Tower in person [was the coolest] because that was the moment that it hit me,” Emily said. “I’m not in America; this is France.”

However, all great things must come to an end, and Emily’s trip to France was not an exception. After Emily left France, she had to quickly readjust to life in the United States. Although she learned about new social habits, culture, and social norms, she had to readjust to her normal life in the United States.

“It was a culture shock when I came back,” Emily said. “The day after [I got home], I had to go to band camp for three days… but I was definitely more grateful of being able to communicate with everybody.”

The experiences that Emily had abroad could not have happened on her home turf. She learned about her passions and some plans for the future. Studying abroad may be an option for her at some point in college.

“There’s so much of the world for me to still see,” Emily said. “I’m young; I can still go to so many places and see so many things.”

More importantly, Emily learned about her overall place in the world. It showed her that The United States is just a small percentage of the overall world population. There’s always more to learn about new cultures, new people, and new traditions.

“It’s kind of cliche, but we’re not all so different,” Emily said. “Even if we live a world apart, we’re all still teenagers.”