Category Archives: Ashley

The Petite Program

Let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time, in the earliest part of the summer, the Parker twins, Gwen and Steph, were preparing to go on their first trip out of the country – a school-sponsored trip to France called the Petite Program. They had applied to the program in December and had been preparing since March and couldn’t wait to leave. School ended and they flew home to Virginia where they and their mom bought and packed everything they needed.

Finally the day came when they were leaving. They and their mother woke up at 0DARK:30 for a flight from Richmond to Boston. They arrived in Boston with enough time to wander around the city and mentally prepare for their upcoming adventure. Eventually, however, the time came to see the girls off so the twins and their mother returned to the airport.

They arrived at the airport early so that they could have one last dinner together before the girls left. They eat and they laughed, but soon they finished and had to wait in front of the Air France counter for the rest of their group. About 20 minutes after they had sat down and were quietly reading and playing on their phones, two boys checked into their flight. They came and sat down next to the Parkers and one phoned his parents to tell them their flight had been delayed until 11pm. Mrs. Parker, being who she is decided to get up and find out if that was the same flight the girls were on. Unfortunately, it was and so, the Gwen decided to call Dr. Trottier, the main chaperone and the chaperone in charge of culture, to inform her of the major delay in the schedule.

Rather than calling herself, Gwen decided to give the phone to Steph because she was able to break the news more softly. Steph told Dr. Trottier, who was in a van with many of the other people on the trip, while other people began arriving. By then only three people had arrived: Logan (who had 3 brothers), Susan (the best-dressed day-student on the trip), and Virginia (the only Freshman on the trip). After that the rest of the group arrived, and the fun really started.


*A note: this story is partially fictional (the names mostly, to protect people’s privacy). Also, the story will be in several parts, this is part one. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.


In (the) Bayeux

As you probably know we’re all supposed to write about a picture we took that means something to us; I chose a picture I took in the town of Bayeux. Bayeux is a smallish town in Northern France where the famous Bayeux tapestry is housed. Here’s a picture of the tapestry itself, however, not one that I took. I really like the picture I took because it represents the histories of both France and Great Britain and the picture itself is beautiful. I chose a picture from Bayeux in particular because I am a big fan of British monarchs and I respect William the Conqueror very, very much because he is the last person to invade Britain (except for William III, but he never fought a battle).

Here's the full photo of the water wheel in Bayeux
Here’s the full photo of the water wheel in Bayeux


The past week or so, we’ve travelled through Paris, Normandy, and now we’re in Blois which is in the Loire Valley. It’s certainly been an … interesting trip so far. At first, I was thrown off guard because pretty much as soon as we were in Paris we travelled to Notre Dame and rather than going into the cathedral (which is what I thought you were supposed to do) we descended into the archeological crypt under the courtyard in front of the cathedral itself.

After that we travelled to most of the “important” museums and sites in Paris. I particularly enjoyed the castle of Versailles, the castle of the the French kings from Louis XIV (the Sun King) until Louis XVI (victim of the French Revolution). I grew up learning about European history because it’s an interest of my dad and was passed onto me (and my brother). In particular, I remember reading about the palace of Versailles: it’s “fabulous” gardens, the Sun King’s ceremonies, Marie Antoinette’s perfumed sheep, etc.

My opinions of the history of Versailles was changed after visiting the castle itself. Firstly, I am sad to say that being in the castle itself didn’t really bring the history alive for me, when I think about it, history has always been “alive” wherever I seem to be. The only thing that really did come alive for me was a Baroque bust of Louis XIV sculpted by the Italian Bernini. Secondly, the gardens were a lot less fabulous than I was expecting: as far as I’ve read and heard, the fountains are beautiful, but when we went, they were not only off, but also the water in them was gross and green.

However, I must say that the French are great at taming nature and their square trees are truly FANTASTIC. Also, being in the castle itself didn’t bring Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette (who weren’t married, just btw) to life, however I did REALLY appreciate their taste. Overall, my appreciation for being in a place to bring history alive has really gone down, but if I lower my expectations to just being surround by such a BEAUTIFUL building filled with art and art objects I really enjoyed my time at Versailles.

Bernini’s bust of Louis XIV


So, we’re leaving for France. Tomorrow.

I can’t believe that I’m not going to be in the country by tomorrow at 9 pm. I can’t believe that I’m not going to be in Virginia by 9:15 am tomorrow. It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m going to be in a country that isn’t the United States. The most astounding fact is that I’m going to be in a country where the most common language is not my own. And although I’ve been taking French for four years now, I can’t imagine that I’m ready to travel to a country where I have to test my “skills.” And even though, I’ve gotten honors in French, I’m not ready.

Another thing is that I haven’t packed yet. All of my stuff is still sitting on the buffet in my dining room. I’m not ready to pack – I spent all of last week packing up my entire dorm room and I’m not ready to leave home again. Of course I want to go to France, but I also want to sit in my room, listening to music and watching movies. And I’m not ready to leave my family again after only 5 days. I hadn’t seen them for a substantial amount of time for 3 months and now, I’m about to hop on a plane and travel 4000 miles (I checked) to a country that they know nothing about, except what they hear in the news and watch in movies.

Speaking of movies, yesterday while my mom was cooking dinner, my dad decided that it was appropriate for us to watch Taken, which, if you don’t know, is about a teenager and her friend who get kidnapped in France and sold into prostitution. And, although this movie is the source of the line, “I will find you. And I will kill you” (which is hilariously used in memes all the time) I learned many important lessons. First, don’t talk to strange men in France. Second, don’t give people your address. Third, don’t get on Liam Neeson’s bad side (he’ll probably shoot you or your spouse). And finally,  listen to your parents (in particular, your dad).

So in conclusion, I have realized that I’m not ready to leave home or go to France (both mentally and physically). I have also realized that Liam Neeson has a weird accent and I’m smarter than those to girls in that movie.

Oh, I almost forgot. I wanted to tell you all about my project. I have decided on a historical project that compares and contrasts the differences in art or architecture (not quite sure yet) between the Renaissance and Medieval periods in France. I think that I’m going to present my project with photos and information about the art and architecture we see from those periods while we’re in France.