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

Let’s Do That Tourist Thing

I decided that today I was going to focus on seeing the museums. I made my itinerary and called my uber to take me to the Louvre and Musee d’orsay. I hopped in the car and took off expecting mediocre lines or tourists and messy Parisian streets that I have come accustomed to.
Arriving at the Louvre first, I was dropped off next to giant walls, in the middle of what looked like nowhere. Not knowing where to go, I followed the crowd and ended up walking through a tiny arch in the wall before coming out on the glass pyramids. The sight was breathtaking.

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Inside the museum the pieces were all breathtaking, but I was mostly taken by the ceilings and the statues. I was surprised by the number of pieces and how many tourists were surrounding the Mona Lisa. The number of pieces was incredible, and I know there is no way that I could have seen it all and truly appreciated it in one day.

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Leaving there, I headed across the water to the Musee d’orsay. On the way there I got to head across the bridge known for the locks of love.
This museum was not as large or in depth as the louvre but was spectacular in its own right. Here I saw Van Gogh and Monet, two incredible artists. I found my favorite painting and fell in love with Renoir.

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At the end of the day, I walked the Champs Elysee and got another uber home. I cannot recommend enough spending a day this way. I took in the art and culture of France and could not have loved it more.

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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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Study abroad

The act of traveling is boring.

I am just going to state the obvious while I sit here waiting for my flight to end.

This morning I woke up at 6am to get ready for my bus ride to the airport. After a 2-hour drive, I finally showed up in my small-town airport just to be waiting another 2 hours to board my initial flight. After the joy of being on the plane for an hour, I got to start my next layover of 6 hours. I got to jump on another plane to spend 9 hours waiting, before finally touching down at my destination. All in all, I have spent 20 hours this day just trying to get where I need to be and it’s still not over!!

 

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6am on an empty bus, starting the trip

No one tells you how terrible all this waiting around is when you’re looking at travel sites. It’s just all about the location. Maybe it is like giving birth? You forget how terrible it is as soon as you arrive… Let’s hope. But as soon as I land, I have to rush off to get euros, go through customs, find my baggage, locate the train, and somehow make it deeper into the city where I can hope to find my hostel. Easy peasy when you don’t have any idea how to speak the language. (Insert Sarcasm here) It doesn’t sound like a lot, but the stress of doing it all in one day and on very little sleep is actually worrying. Thankfully if I want, as soon as I get to the hostel I can crash. But that won’t help much with my adjustment to the new time zone.

All in all, it is a bit of crazy excitement mixed with extreme trepidation and tiredness that is my feelings as I prepare to land. What I have learned so far, upgrade to the preferred seating for $30 dollars. For a 9-hour flight it was amazing and worth it for the extra leg room and blanket. Highly recommend for any travel. It also helped I didn’t have a passenger, so I got to take up the whole aisle while I slept!
I still have 2 hours before I land, so happy sleeping everyone back home! I will post after my first day there tomorrow.

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It all starts here.

Welcome. 

      To my friends, family, and future friends,

As I prepare to leave the country next month, I wanted to document my headspace starting this journey. Having never left the country, this experience is panic inducing. But, I feel nothing but excitement as I count down the days. I have said so many times that I want to leave the States and have never gotten the chance to go. Whether it be ex-boyfriends, an expensive doggo, or work, there has always been something making me push off my goals. I will never regret my decisions, yet, I can say that there were other options that would have been better for me. Now, being at a point in my life where I have everything I could want, I am finally making my dreams happen. I now have a great partner who supports me. He is willing to watch my dog while I am abroad and hold the fort down at the apartment. He has been my rock through the uncertainty, and having someone I can trust is worth everything. I was also able to get scholarships, to fund my trip making it possible. Plus, I have an amazing job that fulfills me and makes me ready to take on such unknowns. The cards fell perfectly, and it is time for me to go. 

 

Starting January 21st, I will be flying into the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris before heading straight to the banks of the Seine river. The Seine flows through the heart of the city, and has many attractions on its shores that I will make part of my itinerary. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Le Marais, Champs Élysées, and Pont Alexander III have all been planned into my journey and are within a 15 minute walk of my hostel. I plan on going to see as much as I can and everything I have always dreamed of while there. After that week, I will be taking the train to Bremen Germany where I will begin my semester abroad studies at one of the top S.T.E.M. schools in the world. While there, I will attend my classes just like at my university. I will also meet people in my field making valuable contacts for my future career. Exploring Paris, attending school, traveling, I can not believe how lucky I am, and that is not all. Graduating college, traveling Europe, and starting my career are all on the horizon leading to a bright new year.

Seine river, Paris

With the trip and finals going on my schedule is packed. I am trying to get my lease taken over, my bags packed, and my visa prepared. So much is happening in such a short time and it is nothing but thrilling. As we make our way into the holidays, then eventually a new year, I see a world of possibilities.