Today has been my first day back from an eight-day trip across four different countries. One day in Paris, four days in Barcelona, three days in Amsterdam, and 4.5 hours in Brussels, which blew me away regardless. I can honestly say that studying abroad has been the most rewarding decision I have ever made. Disregarding enough red tape to wrap around the Eiffel Tower, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I have been in Bordeaux for eight weeks now, and I am still blown away by how beautiful a city it is. It is easy to call it home because the size of it feels like Louisville, for all of you “The Ville” natives. The architecture is vibrant and different, and the city center is just plain beautiful when it is lit up at night, and I donâ€™t mean because of the McDonaldâ€™s signs that are all over the place.
Walking around can be fun, and I highly recommend it, but when that Charlie horse kicks in, I recommend public transportation. It is truly fantastic here (actually in most of Europe, I have noticed). Three different tram lines that take you to all of the important places as well as back home â€“ for must of us. Then of course there are buses that take you everywhere else.
The first day of class seriously felt like my FIRST day of class. It was very intimidating walking into this building alone filled with people whose language I donâ€™t speak, so god forbid I get lost trying to find my class â€“ especially since I missed orientation. But in a matter of minutes I was already making so many friends, and during lunchtime even more so. Most if not all of international students are very friendly and eager to make meet new people, so being shy is not an issue.
Class sessions here are interesting. One class goes for three weeks (called a sequence) and that is the only class you take that sequence, and then move on to the next one. Sometimes you will have class everyday for three weeks, and sometimes like during the current sequence, some people are in a class that meets for two days this week and then you have a five-day weekend. You can also choose to take a sequence off, as long as you take four. This is what I am currently doing. I donâ€™t have class again until the end of March, which gives me the opportunity to travel.
You go to class for three hours, if not more, with half hour â€œcoffee breaksâ€ every hour and a half. I personally think this makes the day go by faster, because three hours of class here go by much faster than an hour and fifteen minutes at UofL.
The food here is also pretty amazing. Not exactly the fourthmeal you are used to (although kebabs have become a suitable substitute). And the best part, tipping is uncommon and you pretty much donâ€™t do it. Although, food prices here are kind of steep, so itâ€™s like a balance.
Traveling around Europe can be very cheap as long as you know what you are doing several weeks in advance. There are cheap airlines all over Europe, but the train will become your standard mode of transportation. They are cheap, but comfortable. It is somewhat difficult to plan ahead where you want to travel because some of you will not truly get to know each other until you arrive abroad. Even then you will also meet other international students abroad who will want to come with or you will want to go with them.
It is very easy to fall into the same rhythm you may be accustomed at UofL, which is get up, go to class, come home, go to bed, do it again tomorrow. This is why I advise you to join a club at the school â€“ there are lots of them at ours â€“ to keep you busy.
So far my time here has been nothing short of spectacular, and overwhelming in a good way. There is always something to do, and the Melting Potes students always have something going on for the international students. I have made so many amazing friends from all over the world, and seen so many things that I had only ever read about in Wikipedia articles. As I said before, this has been the most rewarding decision I have ever made.