Wow: my first trip to Europe. I got off the plane with high expectations and three weeks of France ahead of me. Little did I know that I was entering a place not of hamburgers and definitely not of Coke (at $4 a bottle, take your own), not of swimming pools and friends, but of (drum roll) Child Rehabilitation.

The first thing to get used to is that you're going to spend a lot of time walking. There are two attitudes you can take toward this. I tried "MOM, WHY CAN'T WE TAKE A TAXI" and got nowhere. If anything, it makes parents all the more determined to take the total walking tour of Paris in one day. Instead, make your life easier -- keep walking, and smile. Think of burning off innumerable calories gained from that cre`me caramel you ate last night.

This is a world of museums. If you think the Corcoran is big, you're in trouble. The Louvre is going to knock your socks off. Put them back on, fast, or you'll get blisters from walking. By the time you've walked the two miles to find the "Mona Lisa" you will think you're the authority on the Louvre. "Hey," you say, "I've seen it all." Nice try. It is humanly impossible to see even half the Louvre in one day. Just keep walking -- and smiling. The "Mona Lisa" makes it -- almost -- worth it.

If you can pull your parents away from the Louvre, go to the Beaubourg. Just looking at the outside is fun -- glass with blue and red tubes and pipes running around it. And inside it is filled with modern art that fits its unique exterior.

Just remember: Going to Europe with parents is definitely a different experience from going to the beach. It is a lot harder. Instead of eating pizza for dinner and riding bikes on the boardwalk, you're "enriching your life." Every minute of the day -- or else.

Courtney Carlson is an eighth grader at Maret School.