France #9: A Welcoming Culture

Aaron ’24, reflects on the similarities found abroad and how they make him feel “more welcome and included.”

Upon arrival, Europe felt like an entirely different world from the United States with different people, different houses, different stores and cafes, but after two weeks I have found that there are many similarities. One major similarity is the market that creates a circumference around the centre ville of Arles. While the centre ville is constantly action packed with different people, houses, and cafés, the extensive market creates a relaxing atmosphere with fresh fruits and kind vendors. Much like the markets in my hometown in New Jersey, there is a display of an abundance of fresh ingredients that you can buy to go home and cook with, but there are also many fruits and vegetables that you can go home and eat right away. And we did just that.
Our french professors gave us a list of items we had to find at the market to bring back and share with the group. Some of these items included fraises (strawberries), mangues (mangoes), du pain (bread), oliviers (olives), cerises (cherries), and of course fromage (cheese). This was an amazing activity since we got to learn some phrases on how to order food at stores and use money in general. We also got to learn about the local and seasonal fruits that are sold in Arles. After returning back to Alres à la carte we all tried the different foods that we bought, and there was an agreement that French fruits were way better than fruits in America. They were sweeter and had more tang to them.

The bread and cheese was also incredibly good, but we had already known how good it was from living with our cheese-loving families for a week and some change. The market brought me back home, which made me and several other students film the scene not only for our memories but to send to our families to reminisce.

Overall, the big differences between living in the United States and in France are immense, but it is very easy to find small similarities as they stand out by making you feel more welcome and included. The market stood as this resemblance between America and France for me, and I know other students have found their own similarities to reassure them of their doubts and fears.