By being here I've had the chance to encounter people from all over the world, and more specifically, my fellow members of the program. About 27 of us are gathered to learn, but more importantly experience. The things we've learned about Strasbourg and France are wonderful, and the Alsatian region has much to offer. However, I reckon some of the most important lessons we'll learn will come from each other.
On an early afternoon we dine at Auberge St. Martin to get a fine taste of Alsatian gastronomy. I sit next to Davo, a Croatian with menacing stature, and a heart of gold.
"Do you know of Tupac and Biggie? East Coast vs. West Coast?" he asks.
Of course I knew!
"Still D.R.E. is the best song. Do you know this song?" Davo asks me.
"Yes. I know all about it."
My question is how did he know, and how he could be so passionate about something that is but a childhood memory to me. Before I know it we're contemplating having a freestyle rap battle and discussing what it means to be hood. He's from Eastern Europe. Trust me; it can be more intense than a music video.
There are two Croatians in total. The girls from Poland whisper in their native tongue with brilliant smiles, and the consistent Spanish conversations between Mexican students makes me feel like Houston again. The sole Italian explains how Bruce Springsteen is truly "The Boss", and I don't know what to think anymore. 4 Chinese students study as well. 3 who I didn't even know existed until 3 days after arriving, and one who studied in Ohio and always has her hand on a camera.
However, it's the Americans that seemingly have the most differences. Oregon, New York, Illinois, Milwaukee and Texas might as well be different countries when it comes to how much we have in common. From idiomatic expressions to political views we can be as united as our countries name suggest, or as segregated as waring nations. It comes and goes.
Perhaps we're a mini representation of the world. Student ambasassadors from our perspective regions sent on a diplomatic mission via education and ambition. Our behaviors and interactions tell the tale of our lands, and we'll take our perceptions and experiences back to our homelands. It sounds intense, but perhaps it's exactly that.
There's something about being an exchange student that only those who've experienced it understand, and you can never fully know what it means unless you study abroad. I don't even think we know exactly what that something is, but I believe it's what keeps us together. We've left our homes and jumped head first into the deep end of the world, riding on a hunk of metal over waters, to places we've only seen in pictures, to be with people we don't know.
We're insane. I think that's it. We have that thing that allows us to cast caution to wind, and I'd have it no other way.