Only fools skip out on Paris while studying abroad in France. Paris, with its bright lights, romantically haughty locals, and a boulangerie on every corner—who can resist? It’s too much of a tourist destination, they say. It’s for suckers who don’t want to experience the real France! All they’ll find is hot, sweaty tourists with their cameras in your face, asking if you’re French! These fools vow to visit almost every part of France before stepping foot in the City of Light.
Hello, I’m Michelle, and I’m a real fool.
I skipped Paris while studying abroad in Grenoble, France last year and now that I’m home, I dream about Paris—about stumbling through the cobblestone streets because really, who can walk on them without looking silly?
Fortunately, I have enough good memories from Grenoble to last me a lifetime. Though lesser adventures happen in a small town, you reap more stories as a result. But first, a teen photo of me in Paris with the family. There’s little to no memory of this trip because it was pre-blog, so pre-conscience as well, obviously. The lesson here? Blogging is great for your memory.
A little about me
In case you’re new to the blog, first off: I no longer look that young (I’m not saying that I’ve changed in a plastic surgery kind of way, but I’d like to think that my face looks a bit more mature—who am I kidding, I don’t look different at all). Second of all, I’m a little travelbug currently living in Austin, Texas, planning my next adventures. Last year, while studying abroad independently of any program (fuck the police!), I took it as an opportunity to tack on a 2-month backpacking trip throughout Morocco, Turkey, and other parts of Europe.
Phew, ok, can I start the real post now? Here are just a few little memories (little, because they’re moments not quite long enough to write a blog post on, but moments that stood out for me).
Favorite little memories
First hitchhiking experience
Our first weekend in Grenoble, friend group almost locked and everything, we decided to head to the alps and see this castle that people were talking about? French transportation should be easy enough to figure out, said no one ever. We got off at what we thought was the nearest bus stop, but was in reality an hour’s walk alongside the mountain road. Eventually, we decided to either hitchhike or have the castle close by the time we get there and miss the bus back to Grenoble. We hitchhiked.
I’ll never forget the phrase “Zig zag, zig zag!” when it comes to walking alongside a mountain road. One of my friends would scream this every time we neared a curve and we would all dash to the far side so cars could see us as they neared.
Ziplining in the alps
No photos here because we were too busy having fun! (You see how fun I am? I’m such a fun person). These aren’t just zipline courses, but a high ropes obstacle course where you travel through the trees conquering one obstacle after another. I can honestly say that nothing I’d ever thought about high ropes courses—and we had a pretty serious course in high school; had a class on it and everything—would have prepared me for the intensity of this one. There was one part where you had to swing, Tarzan style, into the bottom of a fishnet and climb all the way up to get to the next step.
At one point, I fell off those things where it’s like a ladder, but instead of keeping the wooden steps together, they’re on swings to mess with you. Well, I feel off and was just dangling there from the harness, exhausted and grumpy. “JUST LEAVE ME HERE!” I remember screaming, before I took a deep breath, and pulled ALL the muscles in my leg to get back on.
Foregoing stitches, because I CAN!
No, this is not an artful photoshoot that my friend was taking, this was me desperately trying to keep the blood in my finger after slamming down a wine glass too hard. We had all had a few glasses of wine by this point, so none of them suggested I go to the hospital… which is what should have happened. Instead, I stayed like this for a while, bandaged it all up, and headed to the club to shake my stuff.
The next day, I took a peek and was astonished at how close to the bone that wine glass got. LOL too late. To this day, I don’t have feeling in about 1/3 of my pinky finger.
I can resist cows
This is me, fighting off the urge to just jump on one and hug it to death. The couple I was with at the time got a bit concerned (some for my mental health) and started telling me stories of cows goring people. To this day, I’m upset that I didn’t at least try—cows can’t run fast, can they?
Why French boys wear speedos
One day, through a study abroad student organization on campus, we were given the opportunity of heading into the deep alps to a spa! Yes, please! It was one of the best and most relaxing days I’ve had, which doesn’t make much for stories on the blog, but I did learn why European men wear speedos instead of the American swim trunks: for sanitation purposes.
I’m still not exactly sure about the specifics, but apparently speedos are much more cleanly than swim trunks! And wearing speedos are mandated at every swimming pool, which means I caught a lot more than my American eyes were prepared for. Also, there’s this whole shower and entrance hose down that you have to walk through before even allowed onto the water premise. I wonder if we would ever start implementing things like that?
What started out as a scramble on what to write as my introduction post for Travel Tuesday (THIS IS FOREVER, GUYS) became a cute walk through memory lane. This was actually really fun, reliving some smaller moments that I didn’t think at the time to remember. I always have to remind myself that, when traveling, it’s not just the huge, embarrassing stories that matter, but also the small, calm ones that happen in everyday life. Ones that don’t exactly make up a good story but, when corralled together, form an image of what life was like abroad. And, boy, do I miss it.
And now, it’s Travel Tuesday time! Here’s how it works:
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