Posted by: katelyninfrance | April 23, 2010

In St Cyr and EXHAUSTED!

Howdy guys! So I got back from Eurotour about 2 or 3 days ago and am freaking TIRED AS ANYTHING. The fact that I just changed host families might have something to do with it too. Oh man changing host families is tough. But I suppose I will adapt (no actually I’m CERTAIN I will adapt) and I guess it’s nice to have new experiences and possibilities to make new relationships and new opportunities for travel and visiting and did I mention I have A DOG now? She’s insane. And I love her.

Before I jump into Eurotour I’ll give a brief overview of Corsica since I haven’t updated since then and everything. Corsica was GORGEOUS. Like I predicted we did a lot of lame Rotary meetings where all us exchangers were like- whaaaaaat are we doing here but we also got to go down to the beach and walk through the market and there was also a goat that was eating some bread which was cool. It was supa nice seeing all the other district 1730 exchangers again and all. This was our last scheduled get together but dear god I hope we do some more things like maybe go to the Cannes film festival. Did I mention that I’m within driving distance of the Cannes film festival? As in celebrities? As in the French riviera is rockin’? Yup. Pretty much.

Okay so Eurotour! 55 rotary exchange students (me included) spent 12 days visiting 18 cities in the countries of France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and the principality of Monaco. I’m gonna give a bit of a break-down of where we went and add in fun reflections and blah blah and hopefully make this interesting for you guys.

So first off there were 6 of us from my district who went on the trip. Because our district is strict as anything when it comes to traveling alone, we all took the train together from Toulon to Paris with our district guy. It was an overnight train. We got no sleep. End of story. The next day we arrived groggy in Paris and had to walk to another train station where the bus would be picking us up. Wonderfully, I totally didn’t think about how freaking difficult it would be to roll my suitcase since it was one of those four wheelers that normally has a rope/handle thing but for whatever reason, does not. So I awkwardly carried my suitcase through Paris, arms dying. I think if anything I’ve probs gained muscle on my arms this trip. Which I guess is a positive. So right once we got to the other train station (I think it was the gare de lyon) we got some expensive coffee/hot chocolate and waited. We were joined by other exchange students including Amy who was on the plane with me from DC to Paris and two Mexicans who had a party speaking Spanish with Vanessa. Did I mention now I want to speak Spanish? All of the latin americans were all- SPANISHSPANISHSPANISHWECOOL and I was like- awwww. So yeah gotta get on that one day. After what seemed like faaaar too long, the bus came to pick us up. It was like- EXCHANGE STUDENT OVERLOAD WHAT. We took a tour of Paris seeing stuff I mostly already saw with my host mom but it was still fun. And then we drove off to Reims to sleep in a youth hostel. End of day one.

The next day we got up nice and early (god I hate early mornings guys) and headed off to Strasbourg! We took a boat tour which was pretty hilarious because we all had headphones and a little channel changery thing to choose languages from. And let me tell you there is nothing funnier than listening to the kids version of the tour in French. Cracked me up. After the tour and some free time and a rather delicious cheeseburger type dealy thing, we headed to the youth hostel. And low and behold, when walking out of the bus and towards the hostel, who do we see looking out of the window other than Robert Pattinson! Okay so it wasn’t really him but guys the likeness was FRIGHTENING. It turned out that there were two soccer teams staying at the hostel that night because there was a tournament the next day. So we all hung out with tall attractive Dutch boys. That drank Heinekin as if it were water. As Vanessa poetically put it, Heinekin tastes like cat piss. Trust me. Gross stuff.

Day 3 was in Munich, which was absolutely NOTHING like I expected it to be. It was really modern with amazing architecture and it was like we were in the future or something. It was so cool! We bought kebabs off a stand which were delicious but rather spicy for lunch, and later on we took a tour comme d’hab. Dinner at the hotel jeunes was pretty good if I’m placing the right night with the right city. It involved ghetto necklaces. Eheh.

The first part of day 4 was spent still in Germany at the castle of Linderhof. IT WAS PRETTY. The rooms were fairly small compared to the other castles I’ve been too (lolol who would of thought I’d every end up saying something like that am i right) but everything was gold coated and decorated and really over-the-top that we were just like, stunned with it’s beauty. I couldn’t even imagine living someplace like that. Crazy stuff. In the afternoon we crossed over into Austria and the city of Innsbruck. It turns out that one of the friends of Vanessa and Oneza (two exchangers in my district) have an exchange friend who comes from there, so she made them a map with all of the things they had to find such as “the tall mountains”. I think we found them. Anyways the city was really cute, it was a change from Munich but it wasn’t exactly like the cute French towns I’ve seen either, so it was really interesting. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of Austria, or even of Germany, but I guess there’s only so much we can do in 12 days.

The next day we headed to Italy! We had lunch in Verona, aka the town where Romeo and Juliet was situated. We only had like 2 hours there which was really lame tho. This day was pretty bus-heavy as we drove to Lido Di Jesolo, which is an Italian town on the ocean not far from Venice. We went to the beach and ate delicious gelato and enjoyed the warm weather that evening. Our room had a balcony that was connected to a bunch of other balconies, so it was really fun to jump over the fences separating the rooms and just kinda hanging out with the other exchangers. Honestly I’d really like to go back to this town, it had such a nice vibe to it!

The next morning we bused it to the port where we took a cute little boat to the city of Venice. Guys, I was seriously looking forward to going to Venice for like ever. Like I’ve always wanted to go there and live there and write and just BE THERE. I suppose it’s hard for a city to live up to expectations like THAT, but we had a really nice time! It was beautiful if a bit too touristic and I bought this gorgeous lace parasol that I’ll probs never use but hey it was pretty. We also got to take a gondola ride which was AWESOME and I took a bunch of awkward videos that will hopefully be finding their way onto youtube one of these days. That evening we returned to Lido Di Jesolo and had a fun evening being crazy crazy people. And I split beds. A lot. 

Exhausted as anything, we headed off to Florence the next morning. Florence was gooorgeous! Also had some of the best mango gelato I’ve ever had. Another cool thing- there was a group of German rotary exchange students doing their Eurotour at the same time as we were, and we just happened to cross Florence on the same day! So I got to meet Luke who I met through this exchange student forum but like for real. It was cool stuff. There was also this random street performer who was freaking hilarious. I was going to throw out my empty gelato cup and put in the trash can when suddenly from behind me I hear this loud “NOOOO!” and this guy in like clown make-up comes dashing over mouth hanging open and staring hopelessly in the trash can. I screamed. Then he proceeded to follow me in this creepy zombie walk staring right at me. Dear god it was creepy as anything. I hid behind Oneza despite the fact that she’s a good 5 inches shorter than me. This guy’s job was pretty much to freak out passersby and be hilarious, so we all stood and watched for awhile. It was great.

Day 8 was at Pisa. It was amazing there, like when we saw the tower all leany and what-not I was all- OMG GUYS WHAAAAAT. And there were lots of beautiful buildings all around and we ate at this fancy restaurant in view of the tower. I literally spent over one euro per ravioli that day. They were good and all but seriously expensive. Dang. Pisa was like such a great day for no particular reason. It was warm and we were stylin’ and it was just seriously awesome. Also I ate fresh coconut. Yum.

9 was Monaco, which is principality owned by France but not an actual part of France despite it being completely enveloped by it. I bought myself a nutella crepe (guys seriously WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITHOUT THOSE AMAZING WONDERS OF CREATION) and we walked a bunch around and ate sandwiches and the like. Monaco is cool because it’s built upwards, sort of like an American city, because of how little space they have. Normally in France cities build outwards, not upwards, so it was a really interesting mix of beach-side French town and higher building-ish city. If I’m remembering correctly this is the night where we stayed in a youth hostel in the middle of freaking NOWHERE and it was literally just us staying there. We amused ourselves playing capture the flag though, except that literally at the beginning of the game I thought I’d be cool and all and leap over the not-even-knee-high-stone fence while running, but then my foot hit the wall or a rock or I don’t even know and I went tumbling over, landing painfully on pavement and rocks and skidding and blood and owwwwww. My legs have gone from red to blue to greenish/yellow. Nooot fun stuff, guys.

Then on day 10 we went to Lyon, which I found that I actually really liked perhaps due to the sheer amount of used book stores there were. I was like- GUYS OMG WE NEED TO GO INTO THAT BOOK SHOP YESYESYES CAN I LIVE THERE and spent 30 euros on books. Oh man honestly I have so many books here that I don’t even know how I’m going to be able to bring them all back to the states. I LOVE BOOKS FAR TOO MUCH DEAR GOD. For lunch we ate at this delicious kebab place of awesomeness, and then that night we partied it up. It was a good time. Oh how I miss it. We met this random Canadian guy staying at the hostel and chatted with him for awhile which was pretty cool. Also I tried playing some pool and horribly failed at it. Oh well. 

Finally our last actual day, day 11. We visited the united nations headquarters dealio in Geneva, which was really rather interesting! Oneza and Vanessa were creepin’ taking candid photos. Also Daniel made me pretty stylin’ by tying my sweatery jacket flowy thing in this cool twisty fashion like out of nowhere. He was proud. We walked around a bit in Geneva but lots of places were closed as it was sunday and French-speaking places’ stores seem to really like closing on sundays for some odd reason. Or maybe us Americans are spoiled? Who knows. That evening was our rotary organized farewell party at the hostel in Dijon. There was music and we danced a lot and partied and it was a nice ending to the trip. That being said the next morning I got violently woken up by Oneza like- KATELYN WE HAVE 10 MINUTES UNTIL WE NEED TO GET DOWN THERE GET THE HELL UP WHAT ARE YOU DOING and I was like- huhwhaaaatsleepy. Ahaha thanks for getting me up Oneza seriously, I could have slept in till like 4 pm that day I swear.

Day 12 was a- let’s drive the bus to Paris and then tearily say goodbye to everyone and drop them off at various train stations tiredly and depressingly and man that was sad. Us southerners waited awhile in the gare de Lyon for our train, teary-eyed and depressed that the trip was over. We really got close during this trip, it was a wonderful experience to visit such places and I’m very thankful for the opportunity! It was also really refreshing to be with other people that have fairly similar frames of minds, I mean, we’re all exchange students so we’re all into exchange studenty types of things. I got to really realize how much I miss being able to (more) easily make friends without the language or cultural barrier. Well I mean we didn’t all speak English, and we certainly weren’t all American, but just all being exchange students gave us some sort of connection I guess. Did I write about this already? It’s taken me about a week to finally get to the end of this ridiculous description and I’m too lazy to go check if I mentioned this whole thing before so if I did sorry for the repeat ahaha. Anyways, due to amazing train strikes in the south of France, our train stopped at Aix en Provence rather than going all the way to Toulon where it was supposed to. So we had to wait an hour for another train to come to take us to Toulon. However, there were so many people also taking this train to Toulon that there was no room for us, so we had to wait ANOTHER hour in the cold cold train station in Aix. Dear god we almost died. Finally at about 11 PM-ish we made it to Toulon and my host mom picked me up. After getting back to St Cyr I collapsed on my bed and died for awhile. Yup.

Next day we shoved all of my crap into boxes and suitcases and whatnot and I changed to my last family where I am now. My exchange is winding down and like, I want to stay longer! I really love this place (especially now that I have friends ahaha) and new opportunities are opening up for me and there are going to be parties this summer I’m gonna miss and oh man France I gotta come back I will certainly be coming back to you, my dear! These days my head is all filled up with mixed feelings and stress about leaving and this and that although it’s also really nice out so I’m trying to enjoy my last time here. Tis a shame but all things must end sooner or later. I’ve really learned a lot and grown from this experience and it’s certainly going to shape the way I live the rest of my life and thus I am rather thankful for it. It certainly wasn’t chocolate sundaes and rainbows the whole time but I am not one for regrets and there have been so many amazing times here that I can’t help but be sad to be leaving this life I have built! Now I have skills and I have strengthened the sense of who I am and in that sense I am sure that I can face any challenges up ahead. Amen. Oooorrrr something like that. xD

Well this has become one of my rather long posts, so I think I’m gonna finish it on up and get to reading some of those books I bought. I. Keep. Buying. Books. Even when I have others to read. It’s like a disease. Well, thanks for reading guys! Please comment! Love you aaaaalllll!!!!

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Responses

  1. Oh my gosh KATELYN!

    First of all, Luke posted a picture of the two of you on my facebook wall and I FREAKED OUT. Honest to god, that is SO COOL.

    Secondly, WOWOWOWOWOW! You have seen so many amazing sights… I am so jealous! 😀
    …Especially ITALY. Seriously, that is AMAZING. PISA. VENICE (<3). FLORENCE. gosh! I was creepy and went through your pictures and commented on basically all of them.. I hope that's okay!

    PS- YOU'RE GOING TO OBERLIN! That's wonderfullllllll!!! Dude, imma come visit you!

    Ookayy back to your amazing exchange…
    so is this the family with the host brother your age?? (If it is.. and he's cute.. GET ON THAT) ahaaa.

    Also, I can totally picture you as this crazy awesome writer… seriously… after reading all of your posts throughout the year and hearing about your experiences.. you must have sooo much inspiration! WOWEE.

    Well… imma end this comment!

    Everyone misses you katelyn!!! Enjoy the rest of your trip!! Andandand.. when you come back.. we are gonna do something EPIC.. I'm not sure what.. but assuming that I will actually go for my license and get it.. im thinking ROAD TRIP and dance party… plus wawa hoagies. lolz.

    OKAY. BYEEEE.
    ❤ ❤

  2. Hey i’m Mel from CS
    I have my euro tour coming up at the end of may and this had made me so excited for it….your blog has really helped me throught he first three months of my exchange so thank you!!!!!

  3. *only reads first and last paragraoh so as not to be extremly jealous of the Euro trip*

    You rock and I’m really gonna miss you and I think it pretty much sucks butt that we’re gonna still be living in the same country yet we’ll be living 9318912894 hours apart. We have to hang out quandmeme ok? I can may come to philly/ you should just come to missouri cause we all know theres alot more to do in my town of 2,979 people. But seriously. Theese last couple weeks I’ve really realized that ima miss you / realized that ima really miss you. Ok.

    à wednessday!

  4. KATEEEELYNNNNN I decided to respond to this mainly because you so kindly included me in this 😀 😀 ;D <—- cute hahaha!

    I miss those 12 days man! we should have partied earlier. i especially laughed at my spanish party and also the bed splitting. I cracked up. AND GHETTO NECKLACE!

    but what about our lame dances and also egyptian rat screw?

    i loved the mention of the lace parasol and balconies and cat piss 😀

    what about lime.. in a bottle?

    and ps it's "high mountains"

    I LOVE YA MAN! seriously you are one cool person to chill with – i mean it au fond de mon coeur. ❤


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