Last Thursday my Dad brought me to the airport for my flight to France. After meeting Sarah and Bethany in Philly, we flew together to Paris. For the next two months, we will be in Vichy studying at Cavilam. On the way, SG and I watched The Descendants and tried to sleep. The Descendants was surprisingly good.
And here I’ll pause because there’s this nagging question in the back of my mind: Julia, why are you writing this? Who actually has time to read blog posts right now and who cares about your trip to France?
My response to myself is this: your parents care, if no one else, and you will be glad you have this to read in twenty years, trust me. And while this is no trip to Kenya or some far off-land, France is exciting, even if you haven’t thought so up until now.
It’s true. I have never been super excited to visit Europe.
Until recently, my thoughts about Europe consisted of:
- The Holocaust.
- Holy wars.
- Birth place of western culture.
- Shopping and summering.
However, last summer I had the incredible opportunity to travel with my sister to visit friends in Italy. I left New York excited but uncertain, partly for the reasons I mentioned above. But, the Alps took my breath away, the Mediterranean tasted SO GOOD, and the friendly people, tiny, winding roads, ancient churches and cities completely changed my idea of Europe. Also, I LOVE history of all kinds so why did I ever think I wouldn’t like Europe?
I left the Amsterdam airport with cheese and photographs and new inspiration to study foreign languages so that I can freakin’ communicate with people who don’t speak English. (I write this as if communicating isn’t one of the most difficult things in the world, even when both speak the same language!)
Anyway, long story short, here I am, not even a year later, trying my darn hardest to learn French.
Fun fact: more people speak French in the Democratic Republic of the Congo than in France.
Yep, so I’m learning French.
Eek! I started this post to update you all on how things are here, but now my brain is starting to sleep and I should sign off soon.
Also there feels like a LOT I have to update you on first… even if “you” are just ME (Julia) in twenty years.
What have I learned so far (besides what feels like a ton, yet never enough, French)?
Alternatively titled: lessons to remember in the future.
- If you read online that the temperature will be in the 40’s, believe it. Pack accordingly. Just because you have only ever flown to warmer climates and everything in you WANTS it to be in the 70’s, do NOT pack as if you are going to Florida for spring break. You will regret it when the radiator in your apartment breaks and you will regret it as you shiver around while looking for sweaters on sale.
- DO bring your watercolors. You are wrong when you predict that you’ll be too busy learning and exploring to find time to paint: you will make time. Bring them.
- And when you’re at CVS the night before your flight, DO buy the cheaper bag of snacks instead of waiting until you get to the airport the next day. You will want them. You will cave. You will pay 5 times as much, twice.
- When you get spanish and french and english mixed up until you don’t know which is which anymore, forgive yourself.
- Don’t be surprised when you find shelves of gluten free croissants and French treats, but do budget accordingly. On that note, if you are traveling to France and are gf, I highly recommend checking out the French Association of Gluten Intolerance. They have a pdf of foods to eat/avoid (in French). Print this out and bring it with you, as well as a restaurant card.