At my university in America, we get one week off during the spring semester. Here in France? I have four weeks off during the spring semester! Four weeks! That’s a month! My first vacation, which lasts for two weeks, starts on Saturday. The only thing standing between me and my vacation? A two and a half hour grammar class tomorrow.
What am I going to do with my two weeks off? Well, I can’t leave France. Here’s why. My visa requires me to had a medical exam by OFII, which the French immigration office. Once I do this, I will be able to leave the country. But…I can’t get an appointment at OFII until they give me an appointment date and they haven’t contacted me yet. So, as of right now, I can’t leave the country of France.
That’s actually fine with me.
I know I’m in Europe and everyone dreams of traveling Europe. Believe me, I want to see many places and I am eager to travel. However, I am also eager to travel the great country of France. The whole reason I’m here is to learn the culture, history and language of this country…and I can’t do that if I’m a gallivanting tourist in other countries, can I?
Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of visiting France. I saw pictures of the Eiffel Tower in textbooks and I read about the importance of the Loire in history books. But I never experienced them. As I am learning, books are not the same as reality. My first semester of college, I was stuck in my dorm room studying…all of the time. Sure, I was involved with clubs and organizations, but I was mostly focused on studying until my brains fell out. Needless to say, that wasn’t the greatest idea. It’s super important to have a balanced life. So, I tried again my second semester and found that I could have an academic life AND a social life. I’ll never forget what my father said to me after my second semester, “See what happens when you leave your dorm room!”
On Saturday, I’m leaving my dorm room and I can’t wait to see what happens! I am visiting Rennes, Paris, Strasbourg, and Lyon during my two week vacation. These are places I’ve read about, these are places I’ve dreamed about…and now I’m going there. It’s incredible if you think about it! I’m so excited to go! Hmm…what are some questions that you have about my trip?
How am I getting there? I’m taking the train. It will my first time ever on a TGV, which is stands for “Train à Grande Vitesse.” I’ve read about the TGV, but now I’ll be able to say I’ve traveled on one. The railroad service connects all of France and it is very easy (and cheap) to get from city to city. France also likes young people. People under twenty-five get lots of discounts…and that includes the train. It is an inexpensive way to travel.
Where am I staying? I’m staying in hostels. Again, this will be a first for me. They are cheap places for young people to stay and I’m sure it will be an experience. The hostels, online, looked clean and I made sure they provided linens (because some do not). They even include breakfast. I’m sure it will be fine, besides they can’t be any smaller than my dorm room!
Am I going with anyone or am I doing this solo? I managed to talk some poor, unsuspecting victim into spending two whole weeks with me. The poor soul. Just kidding. She’s my American friend who also hasn’t had her OFII appointment. We’re happily stuck in France and we decided to travel this trip together. I’m glad she’s going with me because she is extremely interested in French and the French culture, unlike some international students abroad who just come to party. She will be a great traveling companion, I have no doubt.
What are we doing? Uh…we have a plan. Well, an outline. An idea…kinda. Okay, look. We booked our hostels and train tickets so we really are going, but we’ll work out the details as we can. We know some places were definitely going, but everything else? We’ll play it by ear.
Two weeks of vacation in a beautiful country. I think I can handle that. What can I say? In France, vacation is important.