Living in a Different Country
I am not your average American teenager. I am a US citizen, born April 25 in San Antonio, Texas, but I have never lived in the USA. I moved to France when I was an infant. I have always resided in Paris, France.
I am bilingual English-French : my Dad is French. I went to a French elementary school and now I attend an international high school. I hated French school – not that I knew any better at the time. I’d have to say that one of my first memorable milestones is when my mom took me out of French School in 3rd Grade and I started attending the International School of Paris. European schools have a reputation for being memorizing machines and they are. The memorizing is not so bad…it’s the oral reciting afterwards. When I was in elementary school, I didn’t like speaking up in class. At the international school – I didn’t have to. I was left in peace, which ultimately gave me the confidence to speak up when I was ready a couple of years later.
I not only speak French and know French culture, but I also enjoy going to school with students from 60 other countries around the world. I experience France and “world cultures” every day. The impact of attending an international school is enormous because I have learned respect and acceptance for all cultures. There is no prejudice that I can detect. The entire community is a genuine melting pot. I was able to observe this calmly and securely during my first years of high school. One of the great advantages of going to an international school where 60 nationalities are represented is that most teachers make efforts to understand and be understood…their students and their students’ parents.
Now I communicate every day in several languages with students and teachers who come from the US, Europe and from other parts of the world. I realize that communication is not always verbal. I have been able to observe customs and become sensitive to a whole variety of issues. This has made me more resourceful and more flexible. It also gives me a lot of confidence in my ability to listen to people and to relate to them. Just think of it : an international school in Paris ! That’s a wonderful education in itself.
A lot of that education has been history; I am deeply interested in history, especially military history. The proximity and remnants of countless conflicts throughout the centuries are everywhere to be seen and touched in Paris and in France. From Roman ruins, to the Napoleon’s Tomb to Omaha Beach in Normandy, I have been surrounded by conquests and battlefields. I have had the privilege of visiting the Normandy beaches and battlefields and I am particularly fascinated by American military history, specifically World War II. Normandy would have to be another milestone – both the region because it reminds me of North Carolina where my Mom is from – and the history – the Norman Conquest – The Normandy Theater in WWII.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Normandy where I first started enacting my life in the military; where my first plans to join the military took shape bivouacking in the garden.
What I’ve never been able to find in France are many people who share my goal of joining the US Armed Forces. There aren’t any other students at my school who plan to have a career in the US Marines. Therefore, in France as well as when I travel to the US, I have an unusual point of view and, paradoxically, I realize that living in a different country has given me a strong sense of patriotism. I cherish the moments that I spend Stateside. I feel like I’m coming home to a place that I already know well and at the same time that I am curious and eager to discover. I have a special excitement and motivation to learn more and to assume my American heritage. Living abroad has strongly contributed to my plan to study and train in the USA so that I can serve in the United States Armed Forces. I want to commission to become an officer in the US Marine Corps.
I believe that my background as an international student has prepared me well for my future studies in the US and for my future career in the US Marines. It has enabled me to learn in an IB school and also to learn and prepare independently on my own. The Marines are the image of America, her history and traditions and I am committed to this career to represent and protect the ideals of the USA. This is a huge valuable lesson that I have learned….living abroad in France.