Bonjour, tout le monde! My name is Savannah Breedlove. I’m a third year IRG major writing to you now from a cat cafe (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like it is) in Reims, France- my home city for the next four months. Finally being here is almost surreal; for months, I’ve been excitedly anticipating this experience. In preparation for my travels, I’d been researching trips, studying French, shopping for necessities, and attempting to formulate a strategy for fitting four months worth of clothes into one suitcase (spoiler alert: I didn’t). But, additionally, what I had been doing on more of a subconscious level during the weeks preceding my time abroad was building expectations. I pictured myself seeing exotic places, experiencing new things, and sharing it all with my loved ones back home. Reality, however, proceeded differently than I foresaw.
My first moments in Europe included a missed train, a triple digit Uber cost, a last-minute hostel stay and lugging 150 lbs of luggage around town. But, I could hardly complain. Though nothing seemed to work out for us at the beginning, it was not long before things began to appear to fall into place. I finally made it to my apartment (which turned out to be lovely) and I met my sweet roommates. We explored town that day and the next, and I very quickly fell victim to the charms of my cute little city. Unfortunately, I got comfortable a tad too soon.
At some point during the process of trading out my American SIM card for a French one, my phone was disabled. Unphased at first, I figured that I could simply get online and fix it when I get home. I was wrong to be so optimistic. Eight days and twelve phone calls with Apple Support later, I remain without a functioning phone. In all honesty, it’s been quite difficult. Aside from making the transition to a completely new country (with new people and a new language) generally just more rough, I have also felt quite helpless. It wasn’t until then that I realized the extent to which I have taken for granted the convenience of necessities that allowed me to be not only a functioning member of society but also an avid female traveler in a foreign continent that my smartphone had offered me.
I am grateful that I did not let that nuisance of a situation deter me from what I went abroad for (among other things): to see the world!
The past week that I have spent in France has been full of beauty, excitement, and novelty. In Paris, we got to enjoy incredible views and lively streets. From the Sacre Cour to the Eiffel Tower, Paris was overflowing with kind people and delectable desserts. We even made friends at our hostel that were kind enough to advise us on our next destination: Nice!
In Nice, the name of the game was relaxation. With school forthcoming, we wanted to spend as much of our days as possible by the ocean. The water was a perfect shade of blue (my new favorite color, actually) and the beachside culture was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of big city life. We found a train that was two euros to take us from Nice along the coast to Monaco, which resulted in a quite whimsical afternoon.
Thus, trying though it was, the time that I’ve spent completely disconnected from everything not within my sight was hardly a disadvantage. In fact, I would say that it actually heightened my perception of every experience. Despite the inconveniences, my situation allowed me to be fully present in each moment and I’m glad it happened.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I will talk to you soon, and hopefully next time, with a working phone!
Savannah Breedlove is a 2019 Global Ambassador. She is an International Relations and Global Studies major studying at Sciences Po in Reims, France.
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