Looking at this photo of myself four years ago, I can say that I am no longer that little shy kid always attached to his twin brother. Sure I've grown in size, but no matter how that change is measured, whether in meters or feet, it will never compare to how much I've grown mentally. The year 2006 was a pivotal year for me, vastly changing my perspective on life, as it was the year in which my mother had told me "António, I'm sending you off to French camp during the summer". I can still remember my response to the news — "Why are you punishing me and sending me off to school during the summer" — but now looking back at her decision, I'm grateful that she did, because ultimately that decision molded me into who I am today. During the course of two weeks I lived with more than one hundred other kids of various different nationalities, took French classes, and toured around the city of Paris. The day of my arrival onto the campus, I vividly remember the nervous feeling that I had looking at all of the different faces, wondering how I'd befriend them all, especially my roommates. Once I met my roommates I realized that everyone was just as nervous as I was, since they were all in the same circumstances that I was. With each day I made more friends, and eventually came to realize that having a friend and living with a friend are two very different things. Being around someone twenty-four hours a day, even if it is just for two weeks, will make both closer than they are with most. In those two short weeks the people I met, the ones that I came to call my friends, I also came to my family. Those friendships that I made in some ways have defined me, since thanks to them, I learned a lot about other cultures and about myself. I learned that I love languages, I learned that I enjoy learning about different cultures, but most of all I learned the importance of communication. In order to succeed in life communication is critical. For example, when a director films a movie, he or she will film a scene from various different angles, and each angle has a different effect on the scene. The same can be said about an idea, but in a more complex way. Each different culture offers a different perspective on a certain idea, which in turn will be once again affected by the language spoken by the portrayer, giving a multitude of different perspectives on just one idea. Here I am, four years later at seventeen years of age, now a speaker of four languages, giving me the opportunity of doing more of what I do best, meeting new people and starting a conversation.
A Trip to Paris
August 31, 2010