June 1, 2018
To begin, it should be made clear that prior to flying to Iceland, I had never been in an airplane before. I had flown in helicopters, bungee jumped, and even had a prolonged belief as a child that I could levitate. No airplanes, though. So, my first flight was an experience in itself. Overall, I felt it was fine despite the overwhelmingly negative comments the airline had previously received and after several unsuccessful attempts to sleep over the Atlantic, I was examining the puffins strolling around on the other side of the tarmac from Keflavik International Airport. One odd part of my Icelandic layover was the fact that it took me less than five minutes (not counting the time it took to actually get off the first plane) to reach the gate for my next flight and less than half an hour later I was on my way to Paris. Wild. This is doubly important to the hilarity of my trek through CDG Airport once I arrived. During that five minute walk through KIA, a lady quickly took my passport as I was passing through a doorway, stamped it, and handed it back. Apparently, that was my customs check into the EU because no one else even asked to look at my passport aside from the flight attendant seating me to confirm my name. Even once I was leaving CDG in Paris, no one stopped me, asked for my passport, or even glanced in my general direction. (I won’t lie, being white-passing was likely a major factor because a chubby little light-skinned girl isn’t going to attract a lot of suspicions.) So, I walked from my plane to baggage and then directly out of the airport to my hotel where I relished in a hot shower, ate the complimentary madeleines, and slept for roughly 7 hours before going back through the airport to catch my bus at 12:50 a.m. (also not an incredibly awful ordeal though that was when the first French person was rude to me). One last note, my dorm room is so obnoxiously green it gives me a headache.
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June 2-3, 2018
It seems most of my peers didn’t pack as thoroughly as we were warned to since most of them arrived without towels. That gave us an excuse to run off on a downtown Clermont-Ferrand exploration extravaganza during which we visited the appropriately intimidating volcanic-rock cathedral, perused the mall and little specialty shops, and somehow managed to walk uphill the entire way including on the way back to the dorms. This unfortunate topographical layout seems to permeate the entire city and my lung is no fan. We went out for authentic French crêpes which were mostly cheese and potatoes, but those are my two favorite things, so I was satisfied. Also, for dessert I had an amazing crêpe filled with mango and strawberries. 10/10 would recommend.
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June 8-9, 2018
Class, grocery shopping (pretty much the same as in America just with better food, so no worries), and HEAT ANGER FROM THE LACK OF AIR-CON have been the center of my life for the past five or so days, but now we embark on our group trip to Lyon (where I’ve already been, BTW because not only did I have an hours-long wait between buses there, but my second bus was late, so minor exploring was completed previously). Unfortunately and much to my ire, Pierre has an internship in Berlin this summer so alas, he will not be there to greet me. What a selfish boy, honestly hehe. Despite my disappointment at being eluded by my oldest friend, I did manage to see a significant amount of the city from the most extra cathedral I may ever lay eyes on (there was gold leaf EVERYWHERE including in the TAPESTRIES and DOORS) to an informative boat tour along the Rhône during which we accidentally crashed a primary school field-trip. Oops. The kids didn’t seem to mind though. We explored the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, ate an excessive amount of couscous (much to my delight), and toured a museum documenting Roman occupation of the region in antiquity which was right up my alley.