“An entire week off, in which everyone had plans to travel extending all across the European continent. For me, the plan was Dublin, joining a friend there after spending the first few days of the break in Rennes. Initially, I wondered what I’d do in Rennes with no classes and practically everyone gone traveling. My body had the answer: I was going to get a terrible, terrible cold. From the most painful sore throat of my life to a deep hacking cough to being fully congested above the neck, I spent my extra time in bed, covered in tissues. For a while it seemed impossible that I could rise out of bed and travel all the way to Ireland in my state, but I somehow manage to lug myself onto the bus and to Paris.
I had a few extra hours in Paris before my bus to the airport, so I took it upon myself to have a small Parisian experience. The first stop was a pharmacy, where I made some gestures and noises of despair to explain my ailment when my French vocabulary failed me and took the various powders and syrups I was given. Then, it was off to the Eiffel Tower. A twenty-minute walk or so, and there it was. After seeing so many pictures of this place, it almost didn’t seem real. There I was, standing right in front of it along with countless other tourists and vendors selling Eiffel Tower figurines and selfie-sticks. And yes, there was something romantic about it, but it was almost hard to appreciate because it felt like being in a picture. Then, it was a walk to the Arc du Triomphe and a quick jaunt down the Champs Elysees to complete my mini Paris experience before catching my bus to the airport. Usually, I fly with ease and even joy- I’m all too accustomed to flying these days and I’ve come to associate flying with exciting experiences like going home for Thanksgiving. However, given that my ears were filled with fluid before I got on the plane, the 55 minute flight across the Irish Sea was the worst of my life because of the pressure on my ears. But, alas, I’d made it to Ireland.
Ireland was exactly the break I’d been craving. Staying in Dublin for four days didn’t feel like nearly enough. There were no Eiffel Tower moments, no fancy cuisine, no exotic weather. But being in Ireland felt familiar, comfortable. Burger Kings and Starbucks dotted the main tourist road. T-shirts and jeans were common attire. The people spoke English. Perhaps it’s weak of me, but these little familiarities were so relieving to see- I’d grown weary of the daily struggle not to wear a t-shirt and leggings, the search for good junk food, my broken French. This felt like respite. Add this to all the greatness that is Dublin. A city of writers, including my all-time favorite, Oscar Wilde. A city of history, dating back to Vikings and to the Irish Revolution. A city of libations. A city of music and laughter.
When the time came to go back to France, I didn’t want to go. I considered throwing my passport into the the River Liffey just to have a reason to stay indefinitely, to avoid the real life that awaited my back in France. Even in the airport, I nearly got dewy-eyed as I reveled in my last looks at familiar merchandise- Clif Bars, Starbucks, all things in bright and shiny packages- and heard my last bits of English.
After my Irish vacation, I was almost a little bitter to be back in France, and yes I’m aware of the absolute irony and whiny-ness of that statement. But now that I’m back I think the familiarity did my soul good and equipped me to dive back into my French life, even though it might not be as easy or as comfortable. Travel is about being uncomfortable, but every now and then one needs that feeling of being home, whether it’s in seeing a familiar face (an experience I’ll soon have as the first of my visitors arrives in only a week or two), having a good fit of belly-laughter, or eating a really, really good tuna melt. I’d go back to Ireland in a heartbeat, and I would’ve loved to explore the country more, but I’m also appreciative of my life in France. Despite academic challenges and oddities, and the ever-rainy weather. Today, it’s Friday, my cold has all but disappeared, it’s sunny and I’m eating a pastry that’s covering my keyboard in powdered sugar, and that makes it really hard to complain.”
Thank you, Erin B. for continuing to share your experiences abroad!
Check out more of her stories at: https://erininrennes.wordpress.com/
Want to know how you can take on your world like Erin? Come in to Moody 102 or call us at (512) 428-1051 and make an appointment with one of our study abroad advisors