Bonjour!

I am a student at EDHEC Business School in Lille, France. I have officially been in Europe (for the first time, by the way) for two whole weeks! Instead of starting with the amazing, life-changing, crazy experiences I have already had in these two short weeks, I’m going to tell my story in a different format. A format that hopefully will give you helpful advice, relieve some anxieties, and show you how I – a solo traveller – felt throughout the process.

Departure:

This was the first time I have travelled internationally…by myself…not knowing a single person…or the local language…and having no phone to contact anyone if anything happens. You get the picture. I was completely terrified when my Air France Boeing 737’s door sealed shut and we began taxiing to the runway at IAH. This would be the last time I would be on American soil for the next three months.

Welcome to the pinnacle of all your anxieties. The nervous feeling you got after signing your study abroad commitment form; the anxious planning all semester long, while continuously doubting your ability to actually go through with this; the night before packing and realizing the “last” time you are going to eat Mexican food or sleep in your own bed or have a phone that’s not useless without WiFi. Unfortunately, none of these compare to the sound of the door sealing on that Boeing 737. The sound that ultimately means there is no turning back.

**Congratulations, hearing that sound of the door sealing means you just made the last and final commitment to study abroad and potentially one of the best decisions of your life.

Arrival:

No sleep, terrible airline food, two hours to get through French customs, and I miss my train out of Charles de Gaulle Airport to Lille. It is a Sunday, my first day in France and my first day of study abroad. After finally figuring out the train system, and still being pretty jet-lagged, I catch the next outbound train north towards Lille. I was finally on my way.

After arriving in Lille I used a map (because your phone doesn’t work of course!) to find out how to get to my apartment. I buzz my flat mates to get inside. No answer. It being a Sunday, most places in France are closed and I have no way of getting ahold of the precious WiFi (not an exaggeration, you will learn…) to contact my flat mates. I eventually wait around for roughly two hours hoping someone would show up. Nothing. It is getting late, I am running on 24-hours of no sleep, I have my entire luggage with me, and I have no place to go. The only likely answer is a hotel.

I head back to the city center on the metro and find a hotel; luckily they have a room available. I purchased a room for the night for around 85 euros and honestly, at this point, I would have been willing to pay 200 euros for a bed, WiFi, and a shower. So my first day of study abroad was finally over, a truly less-than-ideal first day.

**Eventually everything worked out fine! I got ahold of my roommates and I got into my apartment, but things obviously didn’t go according to my ‘perfect’ study abroad plan. This is a lesson for you future study abroaders: some things aren’t going to go according to plan! You may miss your train, get locked out of your flat, lose your wallet, or any other crazy mishap! You just need to stop, relax, look at your options, and make your best decision. Be resourceful while you are abroad! This is apart of your learning experience. You are old enough, smart enough, and every-bit capable enough to take care of yourself in a foreign country. It may not be the most convenient or easy way for things to happen, but things will eventually work out fine in the end.

 

My 2-Weeks in Lille:

Amazing. Met a ton of great people, traveled to two other countries, and countless other cities including Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Brugges, etc. I have experienced so much, in so little time.

I am purposely leaving this section as vague as possible. I have already told you about bad things of study abroad: the before-departure anxiety and the potential misfortunes you may have along the way.

If you want to know what the amazing parts of study abroad are, the parts that justify the money spent, the anxiety felt, and the parts that make it all worth it…well you are going to just have to experience that on your own!

 

 

 

 

Here are a few of the HUNDREDS of Pics I took.

 

– Standing in front of The Louvre in Paris

 

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– A fairytale-like city called Brugges in Belgium

 

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– In Amsterdam with a couple of my classmates20140531_182617