For those of you who are unaware, originally, my study abroad adventure was suppose to take place in Paris, France, not Lancaster, England. Approximately one month before I was to fly to Paris to begin the semester, I discovered that four out of the five classes I planned on taking were no longer available, making it nearly illogical to go there if I wanted to take classes that would transfer back to Iowa State.
Now fast track to my first week at Lancaster University, the first week of October.
My experience with Freshers Week was coming to a close and I was beginning to think about my goals for the semester. The following is what I came up with:
- Ensure that I am continually learning about the business industry with my career goals in mind.
- Make friends who will not only keep my company, but also enhance my experience abroad, because the best way to understand a culture is to mingle with the people.
- Never hesitant or have doubt. I am in Europe for three months, there’s no time to question whether or not I should do something. Just shut up and go!
When I made this list, ending on the third, I knew immediately what I wanted to do – go to Paris. Within one day, I was packing my bags for a four and a half day weekend in the City of Love. My first weekend European adventure, by myself, not knowing a word of French, sounds ideal, right?
During my first night in Paris, I was paralyzed with fear as I waited in line at a open food market.
“Do I try to be that American who can’t speak French, but tries anyway?”, I said to myself.
And so, as I was about to order my spicy chorizo burrito, my eyes widened and an idiotic smirk came across my face. The fear prevented me from saying anything besides, “uhhhhh hi”. To my luck, the guy chuckled and said, “don’t worry man, I speak English, what would you like?”
In the end, I conquered my fears. I got my burrito. And my weekend in Paris officially began!
The next three days were filled with a lot of walking, way too much food, and just enough sightseeing to recreate scenes from movies of my childhood: Mary-Kate and Ashley (guilty), The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beauty and the Beast, and Ratatouille. One afternoon, I created a game for myself. The rule of the game was simple, for one hour, every time I see a bakery with a line out the door, I had to get in line and get something new, to me, from the menu. Crepes, croissants, sables, eclairs , macaroons, and pan chocolate filled me up for the whole day.
My favorite experience of Paris was walking through one of the busiest intersections in the world. With the Arc de Triomphe in the center, I walked through traffic and asked a tourist like myself to come with me. As horns were honking and what I assume to be some not too nice French words, we got to the perfect spot for the ultimate picture (shown below). To me, the adrenaline and excitement alone were enough to put a smile on my face. The tourist told me I was crazy for wanting to do it, but it was worth it. Plus I’m sure he appreciated the picture I took of him and his wife too.
Even though I was not able to visit Versailles, which was on my bucket list, I would not change a single thing on my trip. Each day I walked approximately ten miles, just like the locals would, throughout the city. I rarely had a map for referral, which forced me to interact with the people of Paris. I still haven’t shaken off the “what ifs” from when I was suppose to live in Paris, but the weekend in Paris allowed me to see the highlights of the city and do so with no homework or any other obligations waiting for me when I returned to Lancaster.
Food: Macarons from Pierre Herme, croissants come in a close second.
Attractions: Eiffel Tower
People: Charles from Utah, who saved me from spending more money than I needed on my way to the airport at 3am.
Experience: Picture in front of the Arc de Triomphe
Surprise: 2€ for glass of water, and no free refills? Pass.