Month 3 of studying abroad has definitely been a smoother sailing month. You have finally gotten over the hump of the entire time abroad and you really feel like you know your stuff. You know where to buy your groceries, how to work the public transportation, when and where all your classes are… things like these really do take longer than you would expect to figure out.

For me in Strasbourg I found the “Walmart” of France, Simply Market. To be honest it’s just groceries and a few necessary toiletry items. But it is only a 5 minute walk from my dorm so I am always sure to go on Saturday because everything in Strasbourg is closed on Sunday. I may have had to scavenge for food once or twice after making this rookie mistake. In France you have to bring your own shopping bags, the recyclable kind that we have back home, and bag your own groceries! You also have to weigh and tag your produce BEFORE checkout, they will not do it for you. Took a while to get used to that concept as well. For the first month or so a lot of us did our grocery shopping at a store in the mall, little did we know we were shopping at the HEB (more expensive) of the town instead of the Walmart/Kroger. Lessons learned for sure.

For transportation in Strasbourg I walk or take the tram. Tram C is my best friend and I am surprised I don’t know the drivers by name yet! (joking) The tram is NOT free, even though for the first two weeks we all thought it was. I go to an office at the city center and pay monthly, 25 euros a month to use all the trams and busses in town. One of the busses will even take us to Kehl Germany which is only about 15 minutes away. Some people choose to do their grocery shopping there because they find it to be cheaper, I personally don’t think it’s worth the hassle unless I really feel like getting out of town, just a personal preference. Also some trains are cheaper leaving from Kehl so this bus takes us directly to their train station. Once we were travelling on the weekend when the months changed and I got back, completely forgetting it was a new month, and my tram pass wouldn’t work! Thankfully the “tram police” were not patrolling that evening and I just went the next day to reload. They do randomly check to see if you paid, so it’s not worth the risk or ticket.

My classes became more constant during the month of March. Surprisingly I never had classes on Mondays or Fridays so I was able to take some longer trips towards the end of the month. I spent 5 days in Paris mid-March, 4 days in Amsterdam the end of March and 4 days in Nice at the beginning of April. (If you want details on any of those trips please feel free to send me a message!) Paris was an absolute dream come true trip for me! I was able to meet with an old friend from high school who is studying abroad there and she showed me all around the city, it was magnificent. Many people question if I even go to class, haha, I don’t blame them. But yes, I do. Usually classes are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and they block anywhere from 2-4 hours at a time. We just meet less frequently, but for longer at EM. Classes here are VERY different then Texas A&M. You basically go to class to take notes and that’s it. There are occasionally some in class group assignments, but no quizzes, no homework, no online exercises. It is really odd and a huge change of pace. Majority of our grades are comprised of 10% attendance/participation, 40% group project case study, 50% final exam. That’s all you get. Feedback on your assignments or a quick grade turn around does not exist. I honestly have no idea how my grades are right now, I know I am passing but I don’t know what my specific grades on assignments are. We don’t have eCampus that the professors update with your grades. You just kind of, hope for the best. You can try e-mailing the professor like I did to check in, but they don’t reply until about 1-2 weeks later and they don’t have office hours. You can imagine my frustration in this matter…

The months really do seem to fly by when you are abroad, which is crazy because when I first arrived it felt like each day dragged on and on. It is important to try to have patience and remember that things are hard in the beginning but really do get easier with time. I can’t remember when the “switch” flipped but all of a sudden I just knew what I was doing everywhere I went. It is a really great feeling! I am writing this third blog on my train ride back to Strasbourg from Nice. So I personally have about 25 days left in Europe. On April 30th I will be taking a train to Frankfurt to meet with my Aunt and then we will fly back to Houston that same afternoon. It is unreal to look back and think about all the amazing places I have been so fortunate enough to visit and learn about during my time abroad. I can honestly say I learned just as much if not more outside of the classroom than I did within. Now that the weather has finally turned to Spring I really do enjoy being here SO much more and leaving will be very, very hard. Strasbourg and Europe has officially become another “home away from home”. I do admit that having friends and family messaging me how much they miss me and can’t wait till I come home adds to my desire to return to the states. It’s hard to go through so many different experiences so far away from your loved ones, and sometimes skype just isn’t enough. Most of the other students all had family or a close friend come visit them, but that wasn’t an option for me because coming to Europe is ridiculously expensive and I could barely afford to get myself over here. With that being said, I am most looking forward to the airport hugs from my parents!  We already have plans to stop at the first Whataburger we see for dinner on the way home and then we are getting Mexican food for lunch the next day and some good ole Texas BBQ after that!  My list of “Food I Miss Back Home” is embarrassingly long!

Hope this helps those who are reading see what my daily life is really like in Europe! My next blog will be about ending the semester here and the “culture shock” of returning to the states in mid-May. Miss and love everyone back home! Can’t wait to be back and see everyone! <3