Solo Travel

Bonjour à tous! Aside from the weekly manifestations involving tens of thousands of gilet jaunes across the country, life in France has been pretty uneventful since my last upload. My classes have yet to start up again, and I have been spending most of my time relaxing and preparing myself for next semester. While lying around in ma chambre (my room) for the third consecutive day in a row, I made the rash decision to buy two bus tickets for Paris, prompted by a one euro sale that a bus company was offering. I had previously read on countless travel blogs that solo travel is the best way to explore a city, so I was excited to see how this solo day trip was going to compare to my other travel experiences. Then the next morning, I was up and ready for a four hour bus ride directly from Dijon to Paris. Although I had already seen so much of the city during my visit last semester, I knew that I did not even scratch the surface of what Paris has to offer, and was extremely excited to see what new parts I would explore.

The first stop of my trip was le Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris’s famous giant cemetery, where legends such as Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison are buried. Being in the cemetery alone was honestly the perfect way to explore (as weird as that sounds).  I was able to move at my own speed and see des tombes (the tombs) that only I wanted to see, which I loved. Père Lachaise is special to me because it was the one place in Paris that I promised myself I would visit this year, after researching the cemetery for dozens of hours as part of my final assignment in my French 306 class. Visiting a place where I had done so much painstaking research and knew the extensive history behind it really made me appreciate the gloomy cemetery a whole lot more than a regular visitor.

After Père Lachaise, I headed to Sacre Coeur, the famous basilica on top of Monmartre which overlooks the entire city. The view of the city from on top of la colline (hill) was breathtaking, I could stare at the maze of thousands of beige buildings with their purple roofs for hours. I couldn’t help but just to sit on a step and stare at the sprawling city in amazement for a few minutes. After visitting inside the church, I walked down to Moulin Rouge and le Palais Garnier opera house, both of which I was content with looking at for a minute or two and then just kept moving. Once back at the Seine, I visited le musée d’Orsay, a museum of impressionist/post-impressionist art inside a renovated train station.  At this point of mon voyage (my trip), I was utterly exhausted from walking almost 20 miles around the city and my feet were killing me because of it. I then chose to just sit down on a bench in the museum’s main hall and enjoy my surroundings until the museum closed an hour later, right before my bus’s departure time.

While traveling back to Dijon, I reflected on whether or not the idea of solo travel was all it had been hyped up to be. By the end of my ride home, I came to the conclusion that traveling alone has its pros and cons:  I enjoyed being able to make all the decisions of what I saw and what I did without compromising with other people, but I also hated the fact that I did not have anyone to share my experiences with. For my second trip to Paris, I think that traveling solo was the right choice, because I was able to do exactly what I wanted to, but I definitely prefer traveling with friends when it comes to discovering entirely new places and experiences foreign cultures .

Leçon du jour: L’homme qui y voyage seul peut commencer aujourd’hui; mais celui qui voyage avec un autre doit attendre que cet autre soit prêt.- Henry Thoreau

The man who travels alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.

À bientôt



Photos from Weeks 21 & 22

le Cimètiere du Père Lachaise

some more tombes

Grave of French singer Edith Piaf (she sings La vie en rose)

Holocaust monuments



The view from Sacré-Cœur

the Abside

Moulin Rouge

Le Palais Garnier

the giant altar in la Madeleine 

Every street in Paris is picture worthy        

Musée d’Orsay, a former train station

Street art in the 20eme arrondissement

Spot the American

la saison de Noël en France, and Home for the Holidays

Salut à tous! It has been exactly one month since my last blog post, la saison de Noël (the Christmas season) has come and gone, and a lot has happened since I last updated you all, so let’s just jump right in.

Shortly after posting my last blogpost I went to revisit la Capitale de Noël (Strasbourg) to see its famous Christmas markets and catch up with some of the Holy Cross kids. The name, “Capital of Christmas,” does not lie. The sights and sounds of Strasbourg’s Grande Île (big island) were as Christmas-y as you can get. Little wooden houses crowded every open area on the island, selling delicious crêpes, aromatic vin chaud(  hot wine), and various types of Christmas decorations. Dozens of nativity scenes and giant illuminated christmas trees were also scattered around the city. Having the opportunity to catch up with friends as well as being able to reflect on how incredibly fast our  past five months in France flew by was also a highlight of my trip. Then, after my short one night stay, I headed back to Dijon to find a smaller scale version of les marchés de Noël( Christmas markets) waiting for me in my own city. That following Monday, I finally received my exam schedule, only to find out that I coincidentally had one of my only three exams the day after I was scheduled to leave for the US. So, in place of this two hour long written exam, I had to take a separate hour long one-on-one oral exam with my professor. To be completely honest, the “exam” did not go over so well.  Even though I studied day in and day out for this exam, even going over questions with my host mom, nothing could have prepared me for that hour long FRENCH interrogation of the economics of the European Union.

After that fiasco, the next day I headed back to Charles De Gaulle Airport to fly back home to New York for Christmas. I can’t even describe la joie (the joy) it brought me to be back communicating in English and understanding all that was being said to me so clearly. However, I oddly found myself speaking much slower, as I am used to in order for foreigners to better understand me. Although I was only in the States for nine short days, I jam packed all that I could in the time I was allotted. My trip was filled with runs to Dunkin’ Dounuts, trips to Manhattan and Queens, and chances to see so many friends and family that I have missed. Having everyone ask me questions about my experiences during le dîner du Réveillon (Christmas Eve dinner), and being able to tell stories of my own experiences felt amazing. I did not truly see the extent of my personal growth as a result of my time abroad, until almost everyone at home brought something new about me to my attention. To be fair, I do feel like I have been through more in the past five months than I have in any other period of my life, so there is a reason for so much change.

After spending quality time with my family, and eating as much home-cooked holiday food as possible, it was time to start the second leg of my year abroad. Although my trip was bref (brief), it was just what I needed to mentally and physically prepare myself for round two of my study abroad experience. Right now, I am currently in the process of studying for my other two finals (French Universities usually have their finals in January), as well as applying for summer internships. And at the same time, I am also planning more great trips for next semester, which I’m excited to share with you all! I’m so glad that my time abroad isn’t finished yet, because there is still so much more to see and do! I can’t wait to see what this next part of my year has in store for me!

À bientôt!


Leçon du jour: On est vraiment bien que chez soi pour les fêtes. 

There’s no place like home for the holidays.


Photos from Weeks 17, 18, 19, & 20

Strasbourg again!

Not Rockefeller Center, but it’ll do

Extra festive

Les marchés

Michael’s Craft Store is SHOOK

Italy Squad reunited

Le Palais des Ducs with Christmas rides

Had to get some churros and Nutella

Went back home for a minute

Some much needed family time