Le Début

It is truly crazy how much can be packed into a few short days! I just left on the 13th and have only been in Lyon since the 14th, but it already feels like it’s been a week with everything that we’ve managed to do. The trip here in itself felt like forever between the layovers and the long international flight. This was the first time that I’ve flown alone and the first time I’ve flown outside of North America, so you could say that it was a little different than what I’m used to. However, everything went smoothly and I even ran into people in my program at the Madrid airport– small world!

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Also, small airplanes! While the international-flying jet was rather large, our plane from Madrid to Lyon was quite small! There were only about 12 rows of seats and I got a whole side to myself (there were probably about 14 of us on the flight).
Surprisingly enough, I hardly felt jetlagged after arriving in Lyon, despite the fact that I’d only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before leaving and only 2 hours of “sleep” (aka, trying to find a comfortable way to stretch out in an airplane seat [**spoiler alert**: there is no comfortable way to stretch out in an airplane seat]) on the plane. However, by the time we’d met up with our host mom, wandered around the city with our neighbor and her host daughters, had a dinner with said neighbors, and gotten settled into our rooms, I was more than ready for a good night’s sleep!

The next morning we had orientation and toured around the campus (walking is going to be a major component of this trip– I can tell already). The buildings are old, but they’re beautiful and there are courtyards throughout them all that will be beautiful in the spring (although it is still quite green here).

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This is just a picture that I took inside, so it really doesn’t show much, but it’s very elegant looking (the inside still manages to be quite modern). We got these cute planners and pencils (which I promptly lost [just the pencil, fortunately]), too.

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After orientation, we had free time and a group of us decided to go try to buy cell phones/SIM cards. This, naturally, turned out to be a disaster since none of us had cell phones on which to use a GPS. Essentially, we walked around for hours and those of us who were looking only for SIM cards, and not burner phones, ended up empty handed (this would probably be as good a time as any to mention that internet messaging is currently the only way to reach me right now [e.g. Facebook, email, etc.]). We were all pretty out of it when we finally got back (I would guess that we probably walked around 10 miles), so we relaxed for a little while and then had dinner à la française (aka at 8pm, which could probably also be known as à la Barberg, but I digress).

Today, although it’s Saturday, we took a walking tour of La Colline de Fourvière with the Basilique Fourvière and the Gallo-Roman ruins.

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The Basilica is absolutely beautiful on the inside, but in the spring, we will be able to go up to the observatory on top, which I think may be even more beautiful.

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The weather was by no means beautiful today, but the view from the top of the hill was. This picture in no way does it justice. I forgot to take a panoramic picture, but I will have to do that next time we go up because the full view is really spectacular.

Next, we saw the Museum of Gallo-Roman Ruins. It was very interesting beyond just the unique history of Lyon as Lugnudum during the Roman empire because almost all of the ruins (except for dishes and smaller things) were out in the open, rather than behind glass or ropes. I don’t think that something like that would work in the US. I mean, these ancient ruins were just sitting there on the floor. I could have been distracted and walked right into one easily. It just goes to show that expectations for people must be pretty high, I suppose. There were even elementary-aged children at the museum at the same time as us– this museum is very trusting. There is also an amphitheater that is built into the side of the hill, which is pretty neat. At the same time, there was a coffee machine in the souvenir shop/cafe that serves you a cup of coffee, spoon and all! It’s sort of like living in two different eras simultaneously.

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Walking down from the hill was beautiful as well– the houses are all sorts of different colors, but all pushed close together. I live in a very instagram-friendly place right now! After this, we grabbed lunch at this little food cart with Croque Monsieurs and Pain au Chocolat, which tasted heavenly after all of the walking and was also very affordable (which I really did not expect). Of course, it’s January, so Les Soldes are going on (shopping sales only happen twice a year in France, but they last the whole month when they do. The other sales happen in July), which means we had to check out H&M, since it was right there. Some things never change, even on the other side of the world 🙂

The odd thing is, I had this idea that when I was in France, it would just feel different. And sure, maybe the architecture is different and people kiss you on the cheek when they meet you (I knew that was normal, but it really threw me off when my neighbor introduced us to her coworker and he just went in for the bisous [the kiss on the cheek thing]), but it’s still people and places. Kids are still kids (although it makes me particularly happy to hear kids babbling in French) and people still follow the same patterns. Somehow, though, that makes it better.

Anyways, thanks for reading and thanks to everyone who wished me luck! It’s fun to know that we can still connect all the way on the other side of the ocean!

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