Study abroad

Wait, You can drink outside?

Today I decided to go to the Palace of Versailles and it might have been the best decision I have made this whole trip.

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Going into today, I had not made any friends. I was alone, in a new country, hoping someone social would come up to me and sweep me off my feet wanting to hang out. Turns out, it is very hit or miss at hostels whether or not you make friends. I did not know this. I have always been told, the second you start traveling you will meet so many people at all the hostels and will make so many lifelong friends. I was getting sad because while I was having a fabulous time, I was still alone.

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Before getting on the shuttle to the palace, a young man walked up to me and asked if I was going. He immediately started talking, and I learned he was from a country called Columbia. We talked for a bit before getting on the bus where he saw someone, he met the day prior, who was also from his homeland. Assuming that was the end of it, I stopped talking and let him have his hello’s with her. But the next thing I knew, we are all talking and I was planning my whole trip around being with them. We made plans to eat food they brought and explore the gardens. And so we did! 4 hours later, we had explored and drank ourselves into a little wine buzz. While laughing and taking pictures the whole time.

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We went into the castle at that point and of course it was magnificent. I would expect no less at this point. But, the best part was I had new friends to explore it with. We ended up going back to the hostel and spending a few hours with a couple of bottles of wine before we finally said goodnight.

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Now we have plans to meet up tomorrow, and I am so glad I decided to go on the bus at that time. Traveling is amazing, but making new friends is even better.

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All I can say is things don’t always look how people say they will or how you hope they would. But part of backpacking is staying caught up in the moment and seeing where it takes you. Snapchat-1822528027.jpg

Study abroad

Paris for starters

Today I started my tourist excursion of Paris. I wanted to get this out of the way so I could get to see more of the real life of Parisians. The city is beautiful and with so much to see and experience it actually takes a while to complete. Being the overly ambitious person I am, I thought I could walk from the 19th arrondesmont (a section of the city) down to the 1st and back all in one day. I made it to the Eiffel tower after walking over an hour, but after my feet hurt so bad, I ended up having to call an uber.

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A few things have surprised me with this trip, one being the people of Paris. They are all very nice and welcoming. Having been from the states, I have heard many times about how rude French people are, or how you have to watch your step closely to avoid being singled out. I think an easy way to combat this is the same thing anyone would do in the states… Be kind and understanding of the fact that you are in a different culture with different customs. The point of traveling is to get a new world view and that isn’t possible if you force your own on others. I have seen Americans be loud, block pathways, be gullible, and not accepting. Before we judge, we should be trying to see if there is a reason for the behavior. Not everyone speaks English and I have gotten by through the use of single words or google translate. The important part has been learning from them and making an attempt to listen and not bring my preconceived ideas of Paris into my trip.

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A few things about the hostel. The bathrooms are completely different. They just have two push circles behind the toilet, the smaller one is for liquids and the larger for solids. Now the only reason I know this is because of trial and error. It really doesn’t make sense at first inspection as there is no signage, but after a few tries you get the hang of it. They also do not put the toilet paper in the bowl, instead it goes in a garbage bag located right next to the toilet. I am staying in a mixed dorm. This means anywhere from 10-20 people both male and female staying in the same room. Not a big deal, but wow, it is soooo loud! With the jet lag, adjusting to the loud noises has been keeping me up at night. Hopefully I adjust soon!PD1y.jpg
When walking, no one obeys the normal rules of the road from home in the states. The arc de triumphe for example, is a complete madhouse when experiencing it from a car. There are no lines on the street, and everyone just packs together with the idea that if you fit then you can go. Because of this, the cars are much smaller. Those coup cars that are just the front 2 seats that everyone laughed at 10 years ago, are actually very common here. And for a foreigner like me, the stress caused by this madhouse is palpable.

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The city is surprisingly clean. They love to smoke, but there aren’t cigarettes lying around. In fact, there isn’t any garbage lying on the street. Being from the northwest, this city is cleaner than Portland or Seattle. It is refreshing being in a city but not having to be concerned about what I am stepping in. That being said, adjusting to the smell of cigarettes constantly has been a struggle. Thankfully, because they are so consciences, it has not been hard to adapt. They have recycling centers every block and sidewalk cleaners every day coming out to keep the city clean.

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All in all, starting out this trip has been exciting and different. Seeing the sites, I have only ever seen pictures of, has been amazing. I am exhausted from the jet lag but also wide awake trying to soak in as much as I can. All in all, has been a short day but an amazing start to my journey.
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