Like the iconic scene from Casablanca, we all parted ways on Sunday night, with
some of us getting ready to board planes to cross oceans, and others staying behind to spend more time in Europe. We had a final group dinner at an adorable café with a beautifully chaotic vibe – it looked like a sort of fusion between a castle in medieval Europe and a Greek monument, with modern art hanging from the stone walls, and 80’s electronica pumping from Bose speakers – and as we lingered afterward to take some group photos, there was a weird sense of finality about the whole affair.
It wasn’t final in a negative sense, it just seemed like we were about to leave a space that existed just for us; I doubt that any of us will be able to go back without replaying the memories we made on this adventure together. In my mind, Lyon will always mean playing petanque in the riverside park and dancing to live music echoing through the cobblestone streets of Old Town, becoming closer with my fellow travelers on every excursion. Paris will forever be associated with getting pleasantly lost in the Egyptian section of the Louvre, sprinting through the metro for a pseudo-Amazing Race scavenger hunt and being cheered on by random passers by, and spending 30 minutes admiring the depth, color, and texture of Monet’s water lilies. There are far too many moments, sights, smells, and feelings to describe fully here, and I kind of like that. I like that some of these adventures are entirely ours and can’t be described to others, because that means that someone had to have been there to appreciate those moments, and that’s a reminder that we were there.
I’m currently sitting with four friends in an adorable Airbnb in Brussels, Belgium, getting ready to spend another week in Europe, with our time split between Brussels and Amsterdam. Last night, after we got settled here, we went
out exploring the adorable cobblestone streets and saw the Manneken Pis (a very famous fountain statue of a young boy peeing), and spent some time in the city’s main square, Grand Place. Over the next several days, we’ll be visiting a natural history museum (because why not check out some Belgian dinosaurs?), a local fine arts museum, the Van Gogh Museum (which I am extremely excited to see), the Rijksmuseum, and the Ann Frank House (hopefully; online tickets are no longer available, but we can try for physical tickets the day of). We also plan on biking around Amsterdam’s canals, finding some Belgian chocolate, and either strolling through or picnicking in some botanical gardens that are just down the street from our Brussels flat!
As these are personal travels, and not for school, this will be my last entry for my adventures in France. I’m so grateful to the Honors College at Oregon State University for providing this outstanding opportunity to go abroad, and am very thankful to have had a pair of excellent professors teaching all of us about innumerable facets of French culture! I’d also like to thank my fellow students/friends on this study abroad: you all made these experiences possible, with your unparalleled senses of humor, willingness to explore, and for being genuinely great people to be around. And thank you, dear readers, for joining me on this journey and reading my updates – I thoroughly enjoyed writing them, and I have loved answering your questions and hearing your feedback!
Au revoir, and thank you!