Adventures in Yonderland

A log of my adventures, both real and imagined.

Archive for the tag “friends”

In the End There’s Only Love

Well my time in France is done for now and I am back home. As we all know, I will never forget my time there and it is so bitter-sweet to be home. I made some pretty fantastic friends. Friends from different countries, different states and all with the most wonderful views and experiences. I think that might be the hardest part about leaving. Leaving all those wonderful, fantastic people.

What isn’t hard is leaving French University. And that’s the last time I complain about it here! Because I will also miss just how jank the Fac des Lettres was. I doubt I’ll go into a building like it again!

I’m also going to miss this. My home street. The place I walked up everyday for a year. Cobblestones, a sketchy shisha place and the strangest lingerie shop I’ve ever come across.

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France, I’ll miss you. My friends, I will miss you more.

p.s. culture shock is really gonna suck.

Just so’s ya know

I am back in the U.S. for a while, spending my time between family and friends. And being ever thankful that I have these wonderful people in my life. Coming soon are posts about the surprisingly small amount of strange things I’ve found here in the land of the free, the Lyon trip post I’ve promised for about a month now, and maybe an excerpt from the Diary of C.M. Pine. That is, if I can find that thing…

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and to those of you who don’t celebrate either of those things, peace and love be with you.

Thanksgiving

The French don’t really understand Thanksgiving. Nor do the Welsh or the English. And I’ll bet most of the world, but that’s all I’ve got to go off of. I mean, they get that it’s a time where you eat food and be thankful, but they don’t get it. Somehow this holiday is intrinsically American and as shocked by it as I am, I’m proud America. Because I think this holiday is our best out of all of them.

Thanksgiving for me has always meant two things: massive amounts of some of the best food of the year and time spent with my whole family. And by whole I mean both sides of my family cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and the occasional boyfriend/girlfriend included. I come from a family where the time we spend on Thanksgiving is really about each other. Where we take a second to breathe and be together and think about just how lucky we are that we can do that.

I cannot express to you, or to anyone, how blessed I feel to have that. To have a family I know loves me. To have cousins who are my best friends too. Where even if you screw up, we say “we know. It’s okay. Will you let me help?”

And friends. I could sit here and name each one of them, but it would be too long. But you people who have helped me in ways you’ll never know. I’m thankful for that too.

I’m thankful for everyone I know. Because each in their own way has made me who I am, helped me through the hard (and the easy) times and given me the most beautiful experiences here. And I’m only 21 years old now. This wonderful adventure has hardly begun.

And I’m thankful for all of it.

Home

One thing I’m learning about being abroad is Home. If you’ve never left Home, then you’re like me back before I left mine for University. And that’s interesting to me because as a child I moved around quite a bit. I will never know what it’s like to stay in one place your “whole life” (aka, your childhood). But I never left Home as a child.

I know right? You’re probably thinking “say what?” But it’s true.

You see what I’m learning about Home is that it isn’t where you are that makes a Home. Walls make houses, but it’s the people inside the walls that make a Home. Home is where you are safe inside a bubble of love. It can be yours, your family’s, your friends’ but at the end of the day, it’s not the walls or the state or the country that make a Home.

It’s you. And who is with you.

I think that’s what they always meant by “Home is where the Heart is.” ‘Cause right now, I carry my Home with me. Like a backpack or a ribcage. It exists nowhere in space. Just where I am. Right there on the left side, two winks down from the shoulder. My Home is sitting right there in my Heart. And maybe that will change someday. But for now, that’s where I am.

And I’m glad. Because I can take it with me while I’m away.

One Thing I’ve Learned

One thing I’ve learned in life and in this study abroad is an idea I’ve thought a lot about. Joseph Conrad said, “We live as we dream, alone” but I don’t agree with that. I will say, however, that no one walks the same path.

But instead of being something bad, instead of taking that as some set of impossibilities, I’ve come to realize what it means. Each of us gets to choose who we are. Each of us is blessed with our own experiences, our own stories, our own smiles. Our very own smiles. Think about that. Isn’t it wonderful? Just my smile.

And yes, we meet people who we share the road with. Sometimes to share a meal, sometimes a particular turn, and sometimes the whole rest of the journey with. But even then, you cannot walk in the space someone else is occupying. Even then, your path is your own.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t smile and share it. And that. That is something worth walking for.

Barcelona

So, after waking up at 4am to come back to good ol’ Aix, I thought it would be a great idea to wake up at 5:15 the next morning in order to head out to Barcelona.

Street Performer! High caliber man. These guys are crazy.

Boy was I right! Haha it was really sweet. And just nice. I got to meet new people, make new friends and see one of the most beautiful, fun cities I’ve been to yet. And the market! Goodness. Let me put it this way: fresh fruit smoothies for a euro.

Sagrada Familia -By Gaudi. Really tight architecture. Man was a genius.

Inside the Cathedral of Barcelona, the most beautiful Cathedral I have ever been inside.

 

I also got to go to clubs, like real clubs, for the first time and that was a really neat experience. The first one had some really freaky demons on stilts walking around (honestly that just freaked me out) and the second one was REALLY cool. Three floors, each with their own music and just tons of people to dissappear into and dance with. My poor ears though!

Saturday was the eve of my birthday, but I didn’t feel like going out because I was honestly just exhausted. And I wasn’t invited, but I didn’t know that when I originally made the decision and that’s another story altogether!

BUT I ended up staying up until 3:30 anyway talking with a girl I met on the trip and another friend from my program. The three of us may have gone for McDonald’s ice cream at like 2/2:30 in the morning. It was glorious. Honestly, for as low-key as my birthday was, it was just really, really nice.

Painting on the wall at the Contemporary Art Museum in Barcelona.

And now! We’re all caught up. Back to my boring ol’ stories about Aix. haha just kidding. It’s about to get real interesting over here. Midterms. Why yes, I would like to take an hour-long test in French.

We’ll see how it goes.

The Catch Up Adventures: Day 1 Athens

I am alive, well and full of stories I haven’t been able to tell due to a lack of internet! BUT you won’t get all of them at once! Oh no. Over the course of the next week, I’ll be posting a recap of everything from Greece to Spain. And I might also tell a small tale involving a lonely little apple.

My arrival into Athens might be said to be something of an adventure in and of itself, or at least, it was entertaining.

To start with, my flight was at 6:40am leaving from the Marseille airport (MRS if you wanted to know. I’ve now memorized it from all the flight research I’ve done over the past few months). This normally wouldn’t be any kind of issue. At home I’d just complain about getting up early and then I’d head off to the airport, Mom or Dad accompanying right up until (or even through) security.

Not this time. I have no car abroad, so my only option left was to either take the train or the bus to the Marseille airport. I decided the 4:50am bus would have to work because there wasn’t an earlier. That got me to the airport at 5:20. Awesome. I love cutting things close (I really don’t).

So I got up at 4:00, left the apartment by 4:15 and walked through the rain to the bus station by 4:30. And then waited. Alone. Huddled under a food stand. Words cannot express how happy I was to get on that lovely heated bus.

Anyway, I got to the airport and got checked in by 6 (and got to listen to a Croatian man and a woman from London talking). I only waited about 10 minutes before they called for boarding and I took a shuttle to the plane.

Once in Athens, I grabbed up my suitcase (checked the bottle of champagne I took with me. It was fine), and tried to figure out where to meet my best friend from Cairo! It was so exciting. I couldn’t help but smile when I found her. Picking someone up at the airport I feel like is always like, really exciting. It’s like Christmas except you don’t know if it’s going to happen or not.

Anywho, we adventured through Athens looking for our hotel and, after a kind security woman on a bike helped us, finally found the lovely Hotel Aristoteles. And then came the great exploration of the city which was interesting. I love being in cities that just have old stuff scattered throughout the city. And that is definitely what Athens is.

So Last Night

I went to a language exchange dinner that was hosted by a church. In a word, it was awesome. I met a girl studying her undergrad here in France who is from the Dominican Republic. I met some really cool French people and one girl who is studying alternately in France and Germany (go figure). The food was pretty good too. Salad, some weird cooked chicken paste thing (I make it sound awful, but the thing was delicious, especially with the roast vegetables, apples and rice) and really delicious fruit for dessert. I think I’m going to meet some pretty cool people there.

I also went to the supermarket to buy food because I managed to run out (this is what happens when you buy 4 euros worth of groceries). AND I caved and just bought boxes of cookies. Haha but they’re SO GOOD. It’s non of that super-sugar, super-fat stuff. Uh-uh, this is like animal cracker-type wafer thing with milk chocolate on top.

And paprika pringles. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s a trap. It. Is. A. Trap.

Luckily I need food. Lots of food.

The Middle East

As you all can probably tell, I’ve become absolutely obsessed with the Middle East protests recently. I’m sorry I haven’t reported much on my France life, HOWEVER, I assure you that this has really been the majority of my France life. Ha. I mean, I have multiple levels of interest in the region. Everything from human and cultural understanding to my best friend who’s over in Egypt. So, yeah. Lot’s of focus abroad for me.

However, here’s some kind of an update. I invited a friend over for dinner the other night and used a recipe I asked my dad to send me. Pork Medallions with Cherry-Pomegranate sauce. It’s delicious. Anyway, that went pretty well. Lot’s of talking and the whole “getting to know you” thing. I have now found a fellow guitar player and a fellow english/creative writing major. So that’s actually pretty cool.

Aside from that, our intensive french course finished today (thank the lord) and we could not go see Brave (Rebelle) because it only shows on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. And really…that’s about it. I mean. That I can think of. There will be a lot more about the Middle East posted here over the next few days, but I’m praying that things cool down soon. The whole situation just has made me very sad and dissapointed with many things. But also conscious and aware and, I don’t know, active. This whole thing has made me more certain than ever that I need to do something to help this kind of thing. And shown me just how big a project that really is.

But for now, it’s just me and France.

And lots of news.

The Adventure Begins

Well. I’m packed. I’m in the car. I’m just about gone. Gone on an adventure whose twists, turns and bounds are unknown. I’m not scared. I’m not nervous. I almost wish I could be going to a frightening place in order to sympathize with the people who are going there. Or even the people who live there.

But one thing I do know about this. Whatever the outcome. Whatever experiences I have, whatever struggles (or facilities) I face, this is right.

There are things and people I don’t want to leave here, I’ll be perfectly honest. But no adventurer ever left with all his family and friends all around him the whole time. He learned to make new friends, to engage in other ways of thinking and doing and to conquer fear. The fear of leaving, of failing, of letting oneself or others down. I’m flying to a new and exciting place, whatever might happen.

And I’m ready to face the adventure.

Français : Église Saint-Jean-de-Malte, Aix-en-...

Église Saint-Jean-de-Malte, Aix-en-Provence (France). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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