This past weekend was the last weekend I would be in Europe. So naturally, my friends and I made plans to travel one last time. This trip was a bit different than any of our other trips because we decided to take a plane. In hindsight, I realize that probably wasn’t the best idea.
I’ve been in Europe for only two weeks now and I have never walked so much in my life. We walk to and from school, to the grocery store, to restaurants. Anywhere you could imagine. There is a sufficient public transport system, yet we all decide walking is a better way to explore.
Maybe my surprise is due to the fact that I come from a smaller town and go to school in a relatively small city as well. But before arrival, I was expecting Lille to be a city similar to the size of Louisville. After all, not many people have even heard of Lille, France. You can see my shock when I arrived and realized that this is practically the only city in the northern part of the country and it is the fourth largest in France.
Needless to say, with all of the walking that I have been doing with the friends I have met here has not dismayed us from traveling to other cities and walking around there as well. This week we took a train to Brussels to see all of the sites that everyone talks about. Then, we took another train to Bruges, a small Belgium town that looks like it is straight out of a fairytale book. At the end of the day, the fitness app on my phone had logged 13 miles. That’s 13 miles of walking around cities and seeing things from the beautiful gold trimmed Town Hall in Brussels to the swans swimming through the canals in Bruges.
Everyone studies abroad for different reasons. I’ve realized the main reason I came to Europe was to travel and see more of Europe. I’m very grateful to be able to have this opportunity and to have already walked around such beautiful cities like Brussels, Bruges, Amiens, Roubaix, and of course Lille.
I’m on my way to Paris this morning and will no doubt be doing more walking. Maybe I’ll log another 13 miles.
June 2, 2016
Before I left for France I had decided not to purchase an international cell phone plan and to just live off of the free wifi when available. I never thought of myself as the kind of person who has her phone attached to her hand permanently so I really didn’t think it would be a problem.
When I arrived in Lille I couldn’t have been more excited to explore the city and meet new people. As the day progressed and the jet lag really set in I started to panic thinking that this trip would not go as well as planned.
I was in the Brussels airport waiting for the shuttle and had no way to communicate with anyone at home. All I wanted to do was text my parents and let them know that I had landed safe and sound and, it being my first time abroad, my anxiety started to climb.
Once I finally arrived at my apartment, I was sad to realize that there was no wifi available in my apartment either. At this point, I was becoming nervous that I would not be able to contact anyone for the entire time I was abroad. After what seemed like forever I was told that there was wifi available in the lobby of the apartment building. Glad that I had finally found a way to contact my friends and family, things started looking a lot better.
I developed a system where I only get on my phone once in the morning and once in the evening. It took some getting used to, not talking to my family or friends all day, but I have come to realize that it is a blessing not having wifi and not being able to be on my phone. I am forced to truly interact and bond with the other students who came abroad with me and because of this I am realizing that there is so much more time in the day to spend exploring and having fun.
I am very glad and thankful that I can experience as much as I can and not have my eyes glued to my phone screen. The fact that there is no service has actually inspired me to make better friends and explore/get lost in the city. I’m even more excited for this month ahead.