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all glory comes from daring to begin

a travel blog by lepetiteprof


what we call the beginning is often the end. and to make an end is to make a beginning. the end is where we start from. - t.s. eliot.

it's easy to leave when you know you're coming back. they're never true ends are they. you haven't come to the end of the rope or the road or whatever that silly expression is. you've simply took a detour that will, inevitably, bring you back right nearly where you began. so these goodbyes...they're ok by me. two suitcases can only carry so many tears and well wishes and see you soon's. i'll have to leave some here.

this is the beginning. this is the end. au revoir mes cheries.

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le commencement

Paris, France


im watching the french countryside and it still feels impossible that im here. its been so much of my life that it just seems a part of it already. i didn't go to a foreign country, i went home.

the goodbyes were hard, as most are. but everything went as planned, which made it a little easier. carolyn and i found each other at the gate and discussed how silly we looked crying through security. we decided the guards weren't looking for tears, only machetes and nail files.

met two girls on the plane, one going to Florence and one going to Nantes. it was nice to talk to people who were experiencing the same things. sometimes you just feel like you're all alone with no one who could possibly relate to the roller coaster of emotions that you're experiencing.

long flight, no sleep, good food, and a first glimpse of France. just beautiful. met up with another girl heading to Nantes and we all worked together to find out luggage, train station, shuttle, tickets, etc. felt like a whole nother trip and a half.

it's easy to communicate here. everyone seemed friendly and willing to help. the train is so fast that the world outside it blends together. im trying to stay awake but i can't tell if it's the train or my own eyes that blur the landscape. but the seats are comfortable and we're exhausted. to tell you the truth i'd sleep on my luggage if it meant i got to lie down. its around 6am our time. almost been up for 24 hours. only 45 minutes until Lille.

a bien tot
stephanie

permalink written by  lepetiteprof on January 9, 2007 from Paris, France
from the travel blog: all glory comes from daring to begin
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throwing in the towel

Lille, France


they always say its going to be one of the best semesters of your life. they warn you about culture shock and its affects. and they tell you to hide your money in three different places so you don't get robbed. but they can never truly tell you how it feels to be completely disconnected from everything you've ever known. to feel uncomfortable in your own skin. and then there's the complete and utter exhaustion.

as we sat on the steps of foyer international in the pouring rain ringing the doorbell, i felt the hilarity of the moment but couldn't even pretend to laugh. what could we do but ring that bell. it was our lifeline. someone, somewhere inside that building knew who we were.

it's now late at night. im alone in my room with my new scratchy sheets and lumpy pillow. i have no electrical plugs, no food, and no patience for my new life in Lille. i want my house, a burrito, and the 24 hour festival foods.

i'm imagining that eventually living here you reach a point where you give up. you give up all the ties that bound you to your comfort zone and begin to latch onto new things. except currently i have nothing to latch onto. i think i'll go find carolyn. maybe she can't sleep either.

a bien tot
stephanie


permalink written by  lepetiteprof on January 10, 2007 from Lille, France
from the travel blog: all glory comes from daring to begin
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plans

Lille, France


first week of classes is over. were starting to plan trips and settle in. the other girls only want to go home but I know that I belong here, doing this. this isn’t de pere. yes its different and yes its scary but its an experience that i plan on taking full advantage of. who knows when ill get to come here again.

the classes are not too frightening. understanding the professors isn’t too difficult and most are very understanding when it comes to helping us erasmus students. i have a lot of literature classes, all at 8am. but I love getting up early, eating my jam and toast, drink my bowl of café au lait, and walk in the dark to the catho. grab a 20 minute and your morning is set.

i notice certain things about the people that im bound to forget once i leave. little things that they probably don’t even know they’re doing. like how no french person will ever meet your eye when you walk past them or how hugging a friend hello is not acceptable. their fashion confounds me. browns and blacks and grays all mingle together and against the city would seem to most drab and boring. But theres something that is just so…i guess the term is je ne sais quoi. i never believed in its existence but its there. theyre so chic it hurts.

i do what I want now. no more feeling guilty and wondering if ill hurt peoples feelings or create drama. im more quiet. more slow. i think more and talk less. its nice. however i still have my booming american laugh that i can't seem to shake.

the drama continues at home. glad that couldn’t follow me across the ocean.

Lille football game and Paris next weekend

a bien tot
stephanie


permalink written by  lepetiteprof on February 2, 2007 from Lille, France
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london calling

London, United Kingdom


london was, in a word, lovely. our eyes were blinded and our tongues slowed by the english words, yet the pain was comfortable. fears were replaced with faith. no longer ashamed of our language, we were warmly accepted into londons welcoming embrace.

we took a ferry across the english channel. as we sat and drank strong coffee to avoid sea [channel] sickness, i thought of people trying to swim across it, trains chugging along underneath it, and us floating through it. in the churning water is all of europe. every country is mixed together in a foamy froth that pounded against our ship as if to say, where do you belong.

the tube took us everyone. the calm british voice reminded us to mind the gap at every stop and play posters yelled at us to buy tickets. we had 5 dollar cokes and 20 dollar fish and chips. the pound and the dollar need to make up. quick.

im going back. theres more to london than what the tube can take me to. and i aim to find that out.



permalink written by  lepetiteprof on February 11, 2007 from London, United Kingdom
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nothing but trouble

Amsterdam, Netherlands


european weather is tiresome. grey colored skies that let loose a flurry of fat rain drops. wicked winds that whip colorful sidwalk trash around your ankles. every day it's the same. wake up to rain, fall asleep to rain. it's a constant companion, a bother. sunny days the whole town emerges, sleepy and shaking their umbrellas dry. they squint at the sun in disbelief, close their shops, and walk in the park. never am i happier than when the sun in shining in Lille.

just got back from a few days trip to Amsterdam. carolyn and i, free from our feeble responsibilities in Lille, took a train north to the Netherlands to meet up with nick and kristi. to be honest, it was bizarre to see a familiar face in europe. there was no explaining what my house looked like back home or how our college library worked. it was easy and painless, so unlike most things in europe. needless to say, the weather didn't cooperate with us. it seemed as though god scooped up all the water from the canals and dropped it on our heads.

Amsterdam was a dirty town. the rain and the mud made everything just melt together, the buildings, the people. sightseeing seemed like so much work, it was much more pleasant to sit in cafes, sip coffee, and watch the umbrellas and bikes outside. the red light district was all they make it out to be. i was impressed with the amount of security. Amsterdam might have it's prostitutes, but it has it's policemen too. we left feeling dirty and tired. there were warm beds and fresh baguettes in Lille. the train ride never seemed longer.

enjoying the rest of break in Lille. the family comes in a week!

a bien tot,
stephanie

permalink written by  lepetiteprof on February 25, 2007 from Amsterdam, Netherlands
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a bit of home

Lille, France



i'll be honest. it was nice to have my family here. it is so simple, or at least we believe it to be, to pretend to be completely independent in france. weak phone lines and bank accounts are the only things that connect us to home. we come here with a new sense of freedom, of yearning. pilgrim freedom. we're across the ocean, our past lives almost something forgotten. we're naive and risky and invincible. we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. there will most likely not be another time in our lives like this. it is a freedom that cannot be explained and perhaps, for it's own sake, it shouldn't be.

my family does vacations well. we've been on so many that we can fall effortlessly into our own predetermined patterns. i showed them my home, my life as best i could. it's hard to sum up three months of life in a few parks and pizza places. what could i possible show them that would explain how i felt on my very first day in Lille? how could i tell them about all the interesting people that i've met and then said goodbye to?

i was sad to see them leave but being alone again doesn't bother me. life is supposed to go on back home. family won't change but im supposed to.



permalink written by  lepetiteprof on March 19, 2007 from Lille, France
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an italian escape

Florence, Italy



europe is a place that seems to most people, a world away. the peoples, the culture, are things that we study, not experience. we keep them at an arms length. just close enough for us to grab but far enough for us to shoo away.

i have no doubt that i could live in europe one day. if it didn't break my family's hearts id probably move here and travel forever. no matter what you always feel as though you're missing something. one more country. one more city. one more language. our world is so rich and my life experiences seem so poor.

Florence is a beautiful city. with it's small alleys jammed with buzzing mopeds, it felt as if i were stuck in a bee hive. but once you're above the city in the tuscan hills, you can't help but give into it. we ate pasta and gelato and shopped for junk. the italian language fell upon our french ears and suddenly we were transformed into tourists once again. famous works of art stood silently and unassuming scattered around the city, waiting to be discovered. it is a place that i never wanted to leave for the sole fact that i wasn't finished with it yet.

rome is next. let's see how it compares to the classic italian town tucked in the hills.

permalink written by  lepetiteprof on April 16, 2007 from Florence, Italy
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i am a college coed studying in lille, france for five months. it took me 1480 french classes, seventeen documents, and nine years to get here but the wait was worth it. europe is my playground: i always was a fan of recess.

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