Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dear France

Dear France,

I can hardly believe that four months flew by so quickly. When I left in August it seemed like an impossibly long expanse of time; the longest amount of time I'd ever been away from my family, not to mention at the farthest distance, and the biggest, scariest adventure I'd ever set my mind to. But also the most wonderful adventure. And there are so many things I am going to miss.

I will miss the cobblestone streets of Lille's centre-ville, its beautiful Grand Place and the streets that wind around it. I will miss the bakeries, cafés and restaurants with some of the best food in the world. I will miss visiting the open air markets on Sundays and cooking together in the kitchen every night. I will miss after school trips to Auchan (even if I won't really miss Auchan itself) and stops at the Friterie in Villeneuve D'Ascq for fries, mayonnaise and fricandelle. I will miss saying "bonjour" or "bonsoir" to every passerby in Triolo, even if I never really met them or knew their name. I will even miss my tiny room, with its minuscule bathroom and linoleum floor.

I will miss Lille 3 and its labyrinth of hallways. I will miss eating lunch in Club Ulysse, Florés, and "le moins cher." I will miss hearing the cashier at Florés shout "Panini Chévre!" in that distinctive voice at least three times a day, and the man at Resto Etudiant knowing my order before I can even say it. I will miss Maxime saying "How are you! I love you!" in his endearing French accent. I will miss talking about classes and gossiping about professors with my friends over paninis each day.

There are admittedly some things I will not miss, like the difficulties of dealing with French administration and the constant uncertainty that comes with speaking a foreign language every day. But, then again, I may even miss those things, too.

There is nothing I will miss more, however, than the people I've met.

I will miss Alexandre, with his hilarious snapchats and interested questions about my day. He was one of the first friends I made, and one of the best.

I will miss Claire and Fleur, the two French students brave enough to be partners with Ginny and I on the first day of our communications class. They always put up with our bad French, constant confusion, and worrying when we worked on the final presentation together.

I will miss Marie and Nicolas, the fearless leaders of Club Ulysse.

I will miss Nicolas' excitement for English expressions (you can't hang!) and his willingness to teach us just as many in French (Il pleut comme vache qui pisse!). I will miss his warm smile every time I walked into Ulysse and his exaggerated fibs that I could never identify. I will miss Marie's constant sweetness and her welcoming demeanor. I will miss her kind questions and her thoughtfulness. And I will always envy her charisma and sense of style.

I will miss Elodie, my amazing Tandem partner. I will miss her patience with me, her wonderful stories and her sense of humor. I will miss just talking with her, in French or in English, and learning about her life and teaching her about mine.

I will miss Laetitia, and her wonderful sass. I will miss talking about boys with her and having her correct my French mistakes. I will miss sitting with her at lunch in Club Ulysse and going to movies in the centre-ville.

I will miss Valérie, the best Erasmus marraine I could have asked for. I will miss cooking American specialties in her kitchen and discussing current events. I will miss her kindness and her caring smile.

I will miss Julie, one of the sweetest people I've ever met. I will miss dinner parties in her tiny apartment, and her constant call for one more glass of wine. I will miss her fondness for tupperware and her stories about studying abroad in Bulgaria.

I will miss Daniel, our trusty Dutch friend. I will miss his accent and his stories about the "horrible lady" and the students at the Lycée Professionnel. I will miss cooking dinner with him and his instinct to give us food whenever he could (usually Dutch). I will miss his Friesian pride and his awkward hugs.

I will miss these people, and so many more. Thank you so much for helping to make my study abroad experience such an amazing one. I promise I'll be back soon.



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Problem With Trying to Do Study Abroad 'Right'

Photo courtesy of Google Images.
As my semester abroad begins to draw to a close (What? It's not over yet! It can't be over yet! I'm in denial.), I have been thinking a lot about my experience here and the expectations I had when I left the United States in August.

Over the summer, almost everyone I talked to had questions; Where was I going? What was I going to study? How much was I planning to travel? But aside from questions, I also received lots of advice. Some came from experienced travelers, people who had studied abroad themselves, or people who had been to the region. But there was also a lot of advice based on stereotypes, secondhand stories, and pure assumption. 

After a while I began to realize that I had received a lot of conflicting advice. Some people told me to avoid other Americans and English speakers as much as possible, while others told me that making friends with the girls from my university would make it easier to transition. I was told not to travel too much, because I wouldn't truly get to know my city or the people in it, and then told by someone else to travel as much as possible, because when would I get another opportunity? But despite all of these conflicting recommendations, there was one common thread connecting them all; people told me over and over again, "You've gotta do it right!"

Well, of course I wanted to do it right. I would hate to waste an experience like this. So I prepared, and I researched, and I planned. I read every blog there was to read, I made lists of places I wanted to visit, and I looked up every picture of Lille I could find. Some would have called me a bit obsessed, but I prefer to use the term thorough. 

But, here's the problem with advice, and preparation, and research. Once you actually get there, almost nothing is ever how you expected it to be. That's not to say that you shouldn't prepare at all - knowing things like how to get from the metro to your hotel beforehand is always a good idea, but at the end of the day, there's no way you can really know what to expect.

Throughout my semester here, and especially at the beginning, I found myself worrying about whether I was meeting my own expectations, and even the expectations of others. Was I traveling enough? Was I traveling too much? Was I speaking enough French? Was I spending too much time with the other Americans? I was so afraid of wasting my time that I sometimes couldn't enjoy the amazing things I was experiencing. Well, I guess I wouldn't say that. I loved my time here. But sometimes I did worry, as I tend to do.

I think that's because I didn't want to let myself, or anyone else who'd helped me get here, down by "wasting" this experience. To me, that would be a failure. And, as anyone who knows me would know, I'm not a person who copes well with failure. But one of the most important things being here has taught me is that it's okay to mess up sometimes. Things are not always going to turn out the way you wanted them to. You'll miss your train, you'll get yelled at by a professor, you'll lose your phone in a taxi (something I've done twice). Hell, if you're in a language program like me, you'll probably fail a few assignments. And that's okay. 

So my advice (and yes, I realize I just finished saying that I received too much advice) to anyone embarking on a study abroad adventure sometime soon is to leave expectations behind as much as you can. Prepare as much as you need to, but don't let the image of study abroad you've created in your head keep you from enjoying the real experience. Don't try to do it "right." Just enjoy every moment, as it comes.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Weekend in Wales

Bangor Uni
Last weekend I made the journey through the Chunnel once more to visit my friend Gini (yes, this is a different friend named Ginny/Gini. They are attracted to me. I can't explain it.) at her study abroad university in Bangor, Wales. I left on Thursday immediately after class and started a long voyage that included a metro, several trains and a lot of waiting, and arrived in Bangor around 10:30 pm that evening.

The first night we went out to a club with some of her flat mates, and I got my first opportunity to see a bit of the town and truly experience Bitch Hill, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The next day Gini showed me some more of the town and the campus and I was able to snap some pictures in the daylight.

First we explored the Bangor University campus a bit, which is much older (and frankly prettier) than the campus of Lille 3. Gini showed me some of the buildings where she has her classes, the library, and the student bars.

We also at lunch at a pub in Bangor and then took a stroll down High Street, the main shopping thoroughfare. We ended our day of exploring by visiting Lover's Lane, a path that winds through a park to mount the aforementioned Bitch Hill (which you must do in order to get to the student housing).

That night we cooked dinner at Gini's flat and headed to bed early so that we could be up to catch a train to Cardiff, the capital of Wales, at about 5am. Cardiff is located on the very southern tip of Wales, while Bangor is in the far north, so the train ride to get there takes about four and a half hours. We arrived just before ten and grabbed a quick breakfast at the train station before hopping on a bus and heading to the Doctor Who Experience, the main attraction of the day.

The first part of the exhibition is an interactive experience, which includes lots of corny jokes, Dalek robots, and even a chance to steer the TARDIS. It involved the most recent Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, but I haven't seen any of his episodes yet, so it was a bit of a new experience. After this portion we moved into the museum, which includes countless props and costumes used throughout the filming of the series.

 My favorite part was actually explaining the different monsters and costumes to Gini, as she hasn't really watched the show. It made me want to go home and rewatch the series from the beginning.

After we had finished perusing the exhibition, we noticed that just next door to the Doctor Who Experience was something called the World of Boats. It turned out to be a small museum exhibiting different types of boats and how they have changed throughout history. It was only three pound, so we decided to go. Why not?

When we had seen everything in the (very small) museum, we decided to head back towards the city center to do some shopping or find another attraction to visit. On our way there, we decided it might be fun to see a movie since Gini doesn't have a movie theater near her university. There turned out to be an IMAX theater very close, so we decided to go see Interstellar (a film I am very glad I was able to see in English rather than French).

After the movie was over we ate dinner in the mall where the theater was located and started to head back towards the train station to catch a train home. We had forgotten, however, that it was the day of a rugby match between Wales and Fiji (Fiji? Really?), so some of the roads were blocked off because of excessive traffic.

The bus dropped us off a few blocks from the station, and we were rushing to get there with only a few minutes until our train was set to leave. Once we got to the station we realized we wouldn't make it, as there were insane masses of people being filtered into lines based on which part of Wales they were traveling to. Luckily we had our tickets already, so we were able to get right in line, and they actually ushered everyone in that line onto the train we'd been hoping to take anyway. Whew.

There were a couple complications with our train along the way (some vandals threw a brick through the conductor's window, and apparently there was a "fatality" within another train on the line) so we arrived back to Bangor a bit late, and went to bed soon after we got back to Gini's flat.

On Sunday we slept in a bit, and then decided to take a bus to the nearby town of Caernarfon, where there is a castle dating back to the 1200s. We ate at a nearby cafe and then spend the day exploring the castle and shopping a bit.

The castle also featured a museum which detailed the history of the Welsh military, as well as the origins of the castle and its different uses over the years. We saw some beautiful views from one of the turrets, and spent a good deal of time just exploring the many nooks and crannies of the castle.

We stayed in that night and watched some Netflix with one of Gini's flatmates. On Monday, my last day, I went to class with Gini and grabbed some lunch with her before catching my train around two. I had a layover in London for a few hours, and with the time change, I arrived in Lille around ten pm that evening.

I'm so glad that Gini and I were able to reunite in Wales!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

La Mia Avventura Italiana

That's right, Italy. It's one of the places I've always wanted to visit. Ever since Lizzie McGuire became a pop star in Rome, ever since Frances found herself again under the Tuscan sun, ever since Audrey Hepburn took a Roman holiday, I have wanted to visit this magical place. And now I finally have.

Of course, real life almost never matches up to Hollywood films, and our trip certainly didn't start out that way. We were flying from Brussels to Milan, which meant that we needed to take a train to Belgium, but our flight was too early so we had to take a bus instead. At 5 am. Before the metros start running. Which, as a result, meant we needed to take a cab to the station to get our bus.

In any normal universe, this wouldn't be a problem. But this isn't a normal universe. This is France, and for some reason (despite my giving him the exact address) the taxi driver simply could not find our residence. We found ourselves wandering around my neighborhood at 4 am trying to explain exactly where we were in French over the phone. We finally to decided to meet him at the nearest metro station, but our relief at finding the taxi dissipated quickly when we got in and noticed that the meter was already running. And that there were already 25 euros on it from the driver wandering around trying to find us.

Now, one of us should have said something. We should have been assertive and said "Hey dude. This isn't cool" (however you would say that in French with the same connotation). But at 4 am, after we'd each slept for about three hours, and had been wandering around for a good 15 minutes trying to find this guy, neither of us had the energy to put in that much effort. So we didn't. And we unfortunately paid 50 euros for a cab because of it (plus I came to find out that I left my French phone in it, so once we got back I had to ride the metro across town to retrieve it from him. What luck).

Yet, despite our rocky start, the rest of our travels went relatively smoothly and we arrived in Milan around 10:30 that day. Once we arrived we rode a shuttle into the city, grabbed a quick lunch and got settled into our hostel before venturing out to see what was to be seen.

We spent most of the day at the Piazza del Duomo, which houses the Duomo di Milano, the famous cathedral of Milan, and is surrounded by department stores, boutiques, and restaurants. We marveled at the inside and outside of the Duomo, and decided to pay for a trip to the top to see the architecture up close.

It's probably the most intricate building I've ever seen in  my life. Each spire holds thousands of details, even miniature statues, and it seemed that each one was more detailed than the last.

The views of the city from the top were also incredible, and I even managed to stand near the railing despite my fear of heights. We spent about an hour at the top before descending to get some gelato and eat on the steps.

We then headed over to La Rinascente, a department store much like Saks or Harrod's. The store has a dining level on the top floor which overlooks the Piazza and the Duomo, which includes multiple restaurants and bars. After perusing through the store for a bit, we decided to head up to the top for aperitivo, the Italian version of happy hour. During aperitivo every drink purchase comes with free appetizers, sometimes enough to constitute a whole meal by our standards. We enjoyed cocktails and appetizers with a spectacular view of the Duomo. Our first night ended with dinner near the Duomo, where Ginny and I both had pasta for dinner and pizza for dessert (we may have gotten a few looks but we didn't care).

The next day we got up (somewhat) early to take a train to Lake Como, about 30 minutes north of Milan. It's said to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe and is a destination for lots of celebrities (like George Clooney, apparently. When you search Lake Como there are tons of Google Images of him there).

Unfortunately, the day we were there was a bit foggy and somewhat cold, so the Alps couldn't really be seen behind the lake, but it was still a beautiful sight. After arriving we took some time to snap a few pictures and take in the scenery, and then ate lunch in the small town of Como (pizza again. Are you surprised?). After lunch we decided to take the 'funiculare,' which is like a tram, up the mountain to see the views from the top.

We spent some time at the top taking a few pictures before we went back down to enjoy the bit of sunshine that had appeared. We wandered through the little town a bit more, grabbed one more gelato and headed back to Milan on the train in the early afternoon.

That night in Milan we returned to the Piazza del Duomo for dinner, and found ourselves once again at the terrace on the top level of La Rinascente. Ginny had (and I quote) "the best pizza she's ever had in her life" and I had some divine ravioli. Tired out from our long day, after dinner we headed back to the hostel for an early night.

Our last day in Milan began with a visit to the Castello Sforzesco, a medieval castle which also houses several museums.  The castle is also surrounded by a lovely park, and one of the museums houses Michelangelo's last unfinished work, the Rondanini Pieta. Ginny and I spent a few hours exploring the castle and its museums before heading to lunch nearby, where my last Italian meal consisted of Spaghetti Carbonara and a coke.

During our last few hours we perused the shops, looked for some gifts for friends and took in the beauty of the Duomo one more time. Then, as our last act before boarding the bus to head back to the airport, we headed to Cioccolati Italiani, a dessert bar in Milan. Ginny had one last gelato and I had some delicious flourless chocolate cake to end our stay in Italy.

After returning to Lille, we ended our weeklong break on a high note with a Halloween party at our friend Marie's house. Halloween in France is certainly different - it's mostly only popular for small children, and even then it's not celebrated by everyone. We were happy to have the opportunity to celebrate (since it's one of our favorite holidays in the US) but it was a bit odd getting strange looks from people when walking through the metro station in costume. To be fair, some of them were probably just trying to figure out what I was supposed to be. I was a panda. Regardless of public opinion, though, it was a perfect end to our break.

Perhaps a Bit Overdue

Okay, maybe a lot overdue. But don't worry - you're about to be caught up.

The week before last was a week-long break for Les Vacances de Toussaint. Toussaint is a French holiday which is basically equivalent to All Saints Day. It is a day during which the French pay respect to family members who have passed, as well as their relatives and of course the Catholic saints. That being said, though, the break isn't really a vacation - we were assured many times by the International Relations director, José, that it is a "pause pedagogique," meaning it's a break for students to study and get caught up on schoolwork. We didn't do that, obviously. What do you think this is, school? Nah. It's just study abroad.

Ginny and I (by now it should be obvious that she's my trusty travel partner) began our week with a trip to Mont Saint Michel with Club Ulysse. Two other American girls, Amber and Emily, also came on the trip. We departed at 6:15 am on a Saturday morning and didn't arrive there until... 1 pm maybe? I honestly don't remember. I actually slept on the bus. It was a miracle.

Mont Saint Michel is an "island" located on the border between Normandy and Brittany that's not quite on land and not quite on sea. It's home to a charming village and a beautiful abbey which were built in the Middle Ages, and it is said to be the birthplace of the omelette. Immediately after arriving we went in search of somewhere to try one. We couldn't afford the famous Mère de Poulard, unfortunately, but found somewhere I can only hope is just as good. I had a three course lunch which included a traditional omelette (which is a bit different - the eggs are almost frothy), fresh salmon and a salted caramel crepe.

After enjoying our meal we headed up to the abbey for a free tour. It was amazing to consider that this building is older than our country. MUCH older even.

The architecture of the abbey was beautiful, as well as the views from the top. We spent most of our time in the village wandering its halls, and considering we only had about five hours there, I'd say it was time well spent. Here are some pictures of the abbey:

After our tour we spent a bit exploring the tiny village, and then hopped back on the bus to head to our hotel.

The next day we visited two other towns in Normandy: Honfleur and Etretat. Honfleur was rather small, which was good because we only had about an hour there, but it was incredibly charming just the same. I bought a book about the legends of Mont Saint Michel in one of its tiny book shops.

We had a larger chunk of time to spend in Etretat. The town of Etretat itself is somewhat unimpressive, but visitors truly come for the beach and cliffs that overlook it. Our first stop when we arrived was the stone beach. The views were incredible; it's not really possible to capture the beauty on camera.

After spending a bit of time on the beach, Ginny and I decided to grab some lunch and try a few of the specialties Normandy has to offer. We had moules-frites normandes, which are mussels with cream on them, a bottle of cider, and crème brûlée for dessert.

When we finished our relaxing lunch, we decided to walk up to the top of cliffs to take in the view from there. I got some amazing pictures but they still don't quite do it justice. Ginny kept saying it was the most beautiful place she'd ever been.

Our day ended watching the sunset on the beach, and finally (begrudgingly) getting back on the bus to Lille. Once back, we had just one day of rest before jetting off to ITALY! Which can be read about in the blog post following this one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Descent into Franglais

Photo courtesy of Google Images.
Is it possible that I'm actually getting worse at French and English?

I've gotta be honest here. folks. I'm not entirely sure.

The aim of study abroad, at least in my case, is to truly immerse oneself in a culture and in a language. That's why I chose a program in which I could take classes all in French, at a French university, alongside French students.

However, though our classes may be in French, there are still plenty of opportunities to speak English. We speak English most of the time when it's just the Americans, and many of the other international students living in our residence are actually more comfortable speaking English than French (for example, our friend Max who is from Germany but goes to school in the Netherlands prefers to speak English with us. I promised him I would include him in this blog post, so... Here ya go Max.) And then there are the countless number of French people who want to practice their English with us because we're American - something we've found to be pretty inescapable.

Don't get me wrong, though; I'm still speaking more French than ever before, and with less and less anxiety as time goes on. During my first few weeks in France I was terrified anytime I had to make an interaction with a French person. Now I can (usually) speak with the cashiers at the grocery store without completely embarrassing myself. Progress, right? Plus, my comprehension has definitely improved. Sitting through ten hours of classes in French per week will do that.

What all this means is basically that I'm constantly switching back and forth between the two languages, often within the same conversation or even sentence. The result is a phenomenon we like to call franglais (or franglish if you prefer) in which random words from one language will start showing up in the other, especially when there's not a word in that language that directly translates.

Let me give you an example. In France, when meeting a friend or bumping into someone you know in public, you will "faire la bise," which is a customary greeting consisting of two cheek kisses (left then right here, but it varies by region. The number of kisses also varies.) My friend Andrea, who has by now appeared many times in this blog, has an adorable habit of telling us a story in English and then just slipping in that she "faired la bise" with someone. This phrase is, obviously, not English, but nor is it really French, because it's more like a mix of the two. And thus, franglais is born.

Lately it has seemed that we are speaking more franglais than French or English. Every other sentence I throw in a random french word (Do you want to go to la bibliotheque after les cours? What are you eating for dinner ce soir?) sometimes without even realizing it. I'm even starting to make more mistakes in English. And this is not something that happens to me. Ask anyone.

So the answer to the question at the beginning of this post (is it possible that I'm actually getting worse at French and English?) is both yes and no. Am I really getting worse at French? No. Even though I don't feel like it sometimes, I'm improving everyday. Am I really getting worse at English? Maybe. But I'm sure that once I'm back in the States my grammar nazi status with return.

But honestly, it's not a question of whether I'm getting worse at both. It's a question of whether I'm improving my franglais.

And the answer is yes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Promise I Do Things Other Than Travel

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament,
Lately it's been more and more difficult to keep up with blog posts. Since I last wrote, I have visited London for four days, had three days of courses, attended an international dinner party and spent a day in Amsterdam. How on earth could I ever fit all of this into one blog post?! Oh don't worry, reader. I'm gonna try.

Some of you may know that on my list of cities to visit, London probably occupies the first or second spot. It's been my dream to see the city for as long as I can remember, and not just because of the Harry Potter series. Last weekend I finally got to see it for myself with my friend Ginny and another friend from DU, Lizzie, who is studying abroad in England at the University of Lancaster.

It would be impossible to include everything we did while in London, but some of the highlights were seeing the London Eye, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, visiting Buckingham Palace and taking a stroll through Harrod's (a famous department store). My two favorite activities, however, were the London Dungeon and Shakespeare's Globe.

The London Dungeon is an interactive tour through London's most macabre pieces of history. Actors lead you through a dungeon where each room is a separate event in the city's past, including everything from the plague, to Jack the Ripper, to Sweeney Todd. The tour includes many interactive moments, and the actors try to scare you at every turn.

Shakespeare's Globe
During the plague segment, we were led into a room where there was a "corpse" lying on a table. A nurse was explaining the attributes of the plague to us when, suddenly, the lights went out. When they went back on, guess where she was standing? Yep. Right in front of me, growling into my face. If there had been a window in there it would have shattered from my screaming. And that happened to me twice.

Visiting Shakespeare's Globe, while equally informative, was not quite as terror-inducing. This theater is not actually the theater in which Shakespeare's plays were first presented, but is modeled exactly after the original and stands just 500 meters away from its initial location. The project was begun by an American actor named Sam Wanamaker and was funded solely by private donation.
Me and Ginny in front of the London Eye.

Visitors can attend a play there (by Shakespeare or otherwise) for only £5 if they are willing to stand on the floor near the stage. During Shakespeare's heyday, these patrons were called Groundlings. The weekend we were there, the Globe was showing "A Comedy of Errors," but unfortunately we didn't have time to go, so maybe I'll go to a play in their indoor theater when I am there with my parents during Christmas.

My first trip to London was amazing, but even four full days wasn't enough, so I'm glad to be going back with my parents when they are here in December.

Last week was also the Soirée Plat International, an annual dinner held by Club Ulysse at my university. Each student brings a dish from their home country to share with everyone, so there is basically a buffet of different foods from all around the world. At first we couldn't think of anything truly American to bring (hamburgers are originally German, apparently) but we finally decided on an Apple Pie. Our marraine, Valérie, lent us her oven and helped us bake it! It was a hit at the party and was gone very quickly. Kind of funny that the first time I ever baked an Apple Pie was in France.

My next adventure last week (aside from a bit of a cooking experiment on Friday, which turned out surprisingly well) was a day trip to Amsterdam with Club Ulysse on Saturday. There I met up with Emily and Ginny, who were staying the weekend with a friend.

We left from Lille around 6:30 AM, so I slept during most of the four hour ride there. After arriving I walked to the center city with some other students from Lille 3, perused a flower market, sampled some Dutch cheese and took in the beauty of the city. Around noon I met up with Emily and Ginny to continue our day.

First we visited one of Amsterdam's famed coffee shops, and then went to take a boat tour of the city. This was the perfect way to see Amsterdam because we were safe from the rain in our enclosed boat and got to see many sights that would have been too far away by foot. And, after the tour, it has become more and more clear to me that I'm simply in love with canaled cities. If I visited Venice I might die.

When we'd finished the tour we grabbed lunch at an Italian restaurant (in the Netherlands... owned by a German company... #globalism) and then headed to Amsterdam's shopping streets to have a look around. I didn't find anything I liked (don't worry, Mom. No weed-themed sweatshirts for this girl.) but I enjoyed just wandering the streets during my last few hours.

Shots from the boat tour.
Our last activity of the day was a trip to the Anne Frank house just to see it from the outside (because the line to go in stretches literally two city blocks), but when we arrived we were disappointed to find that it was under construction. We did get to see the sign designating it the Anne Frank house, but unfortunately didn't get to experience it in any other way. By that time it was almost time for me to catch my bus back to Lille, so we wandered back through the city to the central station and said goodbye.

It is still amazing to me that I can be within three different countries in the span of a week. I am so lucky to have been able to travel so much already, and I've only been here for just under two months! The next two will certainly hold more travels, though maybe not quite so many. This weekend I'm looking forward to staying in Lille and enjoying all that my city has to offer.