Journal Entry #2 — Deceptive Machines

I’m convinced that airplanes are, by nature, deceptive machines. The primary goal of an airline is to transport patrons to their desired destination in a safe, efficient manner. Unless one suffers from kinetosis or acrophobia, airplanes, for the most part, should put one at ease. Once aboard an overseas flight, I’d venture to guess that most folks forget that travel may include some work. Once in the air, many forget that they may face trials and tribulations upon arrival. Fliers are made to feel that their journey will be effortless and their destination comfortable and sure. At best, this is deception.
Since arriving in Strasbourg by airplane early last week, I’ve worked through an immeasurable amount of highs and lows. Even when dealing with a slight language barrier, I’m willing to brave awkward situations. I’ve enjoyed getting my feet wet (so to speak) at the base of the Ill River. My apartment mates and I have likened our initiation to Strasbourg life as a sort of boot camp — we’re participating in new activities, operating on a different sleep schedule, living with people we haven’t lived with before, and learning things that will enhance the overall quality of our time here.classroom balcony
When most folks think of travel to a destination as desirable as Strasbourg, they think of a relaxing, fun time. They don’t think of celebrating their 21st birthday by getting lost for two hours en route to class in the morning, and getting lost on the way to the grocery store in the evening. They neglect to consider that grocery shopping may entail more than a trip to Walmart. When daydreaming about the beauty of the town, they fail to think about the fact that the easiest way to discover that beauty is on foot (in comfortable shoes!). Mishaps like these — and many more — are par for the course when traveling.
The good news? These apparent road blocks haven’t taken away from my journey at all. In fact, being lost in Strasbourg on Valentine’s Day is something I’ll never forget. Stumbling through broken French while ordering dinner and shopping at Strasbourg megastore E. Leclerc has added character to my journey. Using a washing machine that only gives instructions in French is confusing and, in a strange way, exciting.
The great news? Going for a morning run between the Ill River and the United States Embassy is a fantastic way to start a day full of classes. Visiting the Heidelberg Castle and Philosopher’s Way with a few of your friends is an amazing time. Walking through the trenches of the Battle of Verdun exactly 97 years from the day that it started was a spiritual experience. And looking out of my classroom window to see Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg is pure pleasure.
by CJ Donald ’14, currently participating in the Centre-in-France study abroad program. Learn more about study abroad in France.
PHOTOS (top to bottom): Touring St. Stephen of Metz Cathedral (which has the largest expanse of stained glass in the world), and me standing on the balcony of a classroom during a lunch break.

By |2013-02-22T13:28:22-05:00February 22nd, 2013|News, Study Abroad, Travel Journals - France|