13 , 2005
Wandering and Laundering in a Foreign City
What’s the best way for 24 American students to blend into
the city of Strasbourg? Well, I haven’t exactly figured that
one out yet, but I can attest from experience that if the said 24
all rent bikes and ride around the city en masse, visual integration
will not result. Nonetheless, it does make for an interesting way
to orient oneself to a city and its surroundings. You just have
to ignore the umpteen exclamations of “Zut alors!”
and “Sacré bleu!”.
As you might guess from this incident, our program director for
this term, Dr. Ken Keffer, is notoriously fond of the unconventional.
His orientation to the Rhine Region has certainly proven as much.
We’ve sampled almost every means of transportation including
bike, boat, bus, tram, train, and of course, foot. Notice that the
car is conspicuously absent from that list. Coincidence? I think
not. Cars here are actually more of a hindrance to the ease of day-
to-day living. The streets are so small and the interior of the
city is so compact that it makes infinitely more sense, not to mention
that it’s better for your health and the environment, to either
walk or use public transportation.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed not being
encumbered by a car. It allows you to step out of the comfort zone
of your sedan or SUV and actually appreciate the details of a city. It’s
nice to be able to smell the confectionary items baking at the countless
patisseries, to listen to the school children giggle together
on their way home from school, and to just bask in the general ambiance
of the city.