4 months. Summer. Avranches. Paris. Besançon.

Joie Pour Le Monde

Last day in France! Wow. Goodbye CLA!

Ahhh you are literally the coolest person I have met/seen on tumblr! I came across your blog searching the tag "chocolate frog" and came across your post about London! Your photo journal was truly capitvating! My friends are interested in studying abroad in London and your photos make me want to go there too! :) The ease of travel and siteseeing make it seem so surreal. Were you able to stick to your budget of $200 on your trip? What advice would you give to a prospective (solo?) traveller? ~Meg Sincerely, new-hit-single

Hey thanks! I’m glad someone saw that - I was super excited when I got to eat a chocolate frog (haven’t been to Wizarding World of Harry Potter, yet)! Yes, I was able to stick to my budget, but it was about $200 USD for the travel (I didn’t buy my tickets very early), and then probably another $100 for lodging/food/more travel for three days. I learned a LOT travelling alone - and sure, I have some tips!

  • Plan VERY far in advance. The earlier you buy tickets, the cheaper they are. Especially with RyanAir and EasyJet.
  • Buy locks for your backpack and always keep an eye on who’s around you. I bought a travelers wallet/fannypack type thing that goes under your clothes and I couldn’t have felt more safe wearing that. If someone steals your bag - oh well, you lost clothing and a water bottle - not your passport and money.
  • I couchsurfed twice - once in London and once in France - and it was actually MORE comfortable than hostels, and I felt more safe, too. So go for it, I highly recommend it.
  • If you have an iphone - power to you. It will be your best friend. If not - get a good map! I had a shit map for Paris and because it didn’t have all of the tiny streets, I didn’t find three of the places I wanted to see and I got lost and missed a tour. I DID have a nice map (“nice” as in not free, it was about 6 euros) for London, and I saw as much as other people see in 3 days because I never got lost and could just go-go-go. *Getting lost is fun because you see random things, but the first time you’re in a foreign city + alone, it’s more fun (in my opinion) to see all the places and monuments you want to see.
  • DON’T exchange currency at currency exchange places! It is a HUGE HUGE rip-off. Buy anything you can online before you go (ex: for london I bought my plane, train, bus and theatre tickets online before I went), and go to an ATM once you get there - most likely your card will work. I had a Visa credit and a MasterCard debit, and at least one of them worked in London, Switzerland and France.
  • Bring your own water bottle and fill up wherever you can. It will keep you less hungry, and less tired. And it’s free.
  • For London (*it’s different in Paris where the metro is dirt cheap), walk wherever you can - the pound is worth much more than the dollar. The entire first day I literally walked from one end of London to the other seeing all the sites, and the second day is when I invested in a metro pass to get around to where I missed the first day.
  • Make sure you have the address/name/number of your hostel because if you get lost and don’t know any of this - how are you supposed to get help finding it?
  • Pack LIGHT. I went to London for three days with just my school backpack and packed for one day, except an extra t-shirt. If you’re alone, it really doesn’t matter what you look like, and you’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have to lug around a heavy backpack because you wanted to pack enough clothes to look cute. Make sure you have something for the weather, too, depending on when you go. A mini-umbrella, a scarf, and a jacket will save your life if the weather changes suddenly.
  • Travelling alone is sad sometimes because you’re seeing amazing things and there’s no one to experience it with you, and also because if you get lost or miss your train, there’s no one there to console you and say, “fuck it - let’s get a beer”. But the upsides are, you can see whatever you want, whenever you want, and you come out feeling as though you can conquer the world because you are a woman who just traveled to a different country - ALONE. 

If you have any more questions, let me know! I would love to share because I wish I had someone to ask all these questions to before I went! And good luck :)

Wow.

Tomorrow is my last day in France. So weird to finally be at this day. But so relieving, as well.  I’ve had to deal with so much crap from my school up to TODAY - 2 days before I leave - where they made me pay an additional 150 euros ($180) for the change in my program after I was ASSURED there wouldn’t be an additional charge. And - that was after going through a nerve-wracking day of not knowing if they were going to charge me for BOTH programs or not, because no one ever documented anything when they made the changes.

I just wanted to really soak in these last couple days in France but I’ve had a few hours of pure hell that have sort of ruined it.  I can’t wait to go home and not deal with this school anymore! Except for all of these issues with the CLA, however, I really did have an amazing time. I drank lots of wine, watched a lot of French movies, visited other countries, learned how to wind-surf, learned a lot about myself, and… oh yea, I learned a whole new language, too. 

I have class tomorrow, I finish packing, and then I get up at 4:30am Friday to a full day of travel back to the states!

5:45a-bus to train station
6:35a-train from Besancon to Paris
9:05a-arrive in Paris, find way to CDG airport
12:15p-depart France
2:25p(and 7 hours back in time)-arrive in Chicago!
6:25p-flight from Chicago to GR
8:15p-arrival in GR! Home sweet home. 

Happy birthday self! Enjoy getting drunk off the wine and rum you have and attempting to read Harry Potter in French! It’s gonna be a blast!

Field Trip #3 (and the last one) 

The city of Dole, the capital of my region, Franche-Compte! It was absolutely gorgeous and the most fun of the three field trips even though it rained pretty hard while we were there. They assigned us into four teams and paired us with a tour guide of the city, and then they had a scavenger hunt planned for us to go all around the city! It was actually very fun and I’m really impressed they put that together for us! I wish we could’ve stayed to do a bit of shopping since the city seemed bigger than Besançon, but c’est la vie.