Several months ago, I embarked on a wonderful trip to Europe. Susan Eynon and Cynthia Perantoni, both teachers at Canfield High School, had organized a student trip to the French-speaking European nations.
The 10-day tour was a fantastic learning experience. Besides absorbing French culture and having the opportunity to practice the language, I also developed a new feeling of belonging to the world, instead of just my hometown.
Although I missed the familiarities of America very much, and thereby gained a new appreciation for my country, the world seemed much smaller. My initial anxieties over the strangeness of entering a foreign place melted away quickly, and I felt a great sense of global enrichment.
The whole time, I was excited, exhilarated and very carefree.
Different perspective: Now, in the aftermath of one of the most horrendous catastrophes our great nation has ever known, my perspective of the world has changed.
I no longer feel as though I belong to the world, because there seem to be some people and ideas I could never understand.
As I made my way through Europe, I was struck by how similar it was to America. I had never been so far away from home before, yet sometimes I felt like I could have been in the next town. I returned to America feeling as though I had an understanding of what the world was like.
I thought I had seen everything. Now I feel like I have seen nearly nothing. I no longer have the sense I had that all the world is a haven.
I now remember standing happily on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, viewing beautiful Paris; the next instant, the vision of an airplane smashing into the south tower of the World Trade Center flashes through my mind.
I remember how warmly our tour group was received, and how I felt as though the whole world supported America; then, I see the north tower collapsing in a huge cloud of fire and smoke.
On the other hand, one realization I experienced during the trip has actually been magnified by the recent tragedy. Although I loved every moment of our exciting journey, I developed an enhanced regard for the United States.
Freedom: Of course, my feelings were then based on missing things such as family, friends, common language, recognizable food and customs. Now my appreciation and love for America has deepened even more as I realize how important our freedom is.
As a nation, we are quite accustomed to living free. I have certainly known no other way of living. Now I understand how terrible life must be for those who have never known freedom. This has left me more determined than ever to support our great nation.
I have been asked if, in light of the recent disaster, I would ever consider taking the trip to Europe again. I would. The horrific events of last Tuesday do not change anything I came across in my travels.
The events of Sept. 11 changed my view of the world more than my actual venturing out into the world ever did.
XLouise Marie is a junior at Canfield High School and a member of the Drama, Math and French clubs.

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