Thursday, August 4, 2011

My First Time

Do you remember your first time? I do. I was so nervous! I had no idea what I was doing; I wasn't prepared. I brought too much stuff. I was way too early.

What? NO!!! What did you think I was talking about? I am talking about my first time abroad! Sheesh.

The destination: Bordeaux, France.

The reason: I had taken a semester of French in college and had then (rashly) signed up for a summer abroad work program.

My French was not good. I was young and crazy. I would never do this now, since I really wasn't ready. But I am so glad I did.

I was not packed when my parents came to take me to the airport. And when I say "not packed", I entire room was in a shambles. I was moving out of my house I had lived in for a few years; I had quit my job, had a huge going away party at my house and two days later, I was moving out of my house. I didn't have ANY idea what to bring on a trip, especially when I would be gone for three months. I didn't know what the apartment I would be staying in would have in it. I didn't know what I would be able to buy in...ooooh....France (like it was Mars or something!) I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

We finally got everything together and my suitcases consisted of: 1 suitcase that I got from my dad and was probably from the 1950s. It looked like this:
Notice it DOES NOT have a sweet handle to pull it with. I does have a leather strap, but one that was not as long as the one in this picture. Think: one of those straps that goes on a clutch handbag. It was more like that. A wrist strap. So, to use the wheels, you had to crouch way over and pull it. (by the way, note to self, never google "crouched over" when you are looking for a visual aid for this post)

And 2: A regular, and by regular I mean old, suitcase which was also large and had to be carried by a handle.

So, I get on the plane in San Francisco and I arrive in Paris. If you have ever been to Charles de Gaulle airport, you will know that it is a bit confusing. There are multiple terminals and the train station has to be taken from a certain one and I was tired and I didn't have any francs yet, and I didn't speak French very well and I couldn't read the maps and I was shy! There were turn-styles that you had to go through to get onto the train and I had my two huge suitcases (and I think I may have also had a backpack) full of clothes and shoes and alarm clocks (what, you can BUY those in foreign countries?) and presents for my future new friends (I was told this was "good manners" but that's another story.)


I got stuck. My suitcase with the wrist strap got stuck in the turn-style and it was still attached to my wrist and I tried to heave the other one over the gate but it was too full of crap I didn't need heavy. And people were looking at me like, "what is YOUR problem?" and they were talking to me very quickly ("Vous-avez besoin d'aide? Madmoiselle? blah, blah, blah") and I couldn't understand what they were saying and I couldn't get my suitcase out of the doors and I couldn't get my wrist out of the strap and I wanted to sit down and cry.

I finally got my wrist free, got my suitcase free, got francs, figured out where the Gare du Nord train station was and how to get to it and got on the train. The TGV, which is the speedy train in France was awesome! I was highly impressed, although my jet lagged mind was really looking forward to going to bed. However, it was my first time abroad! I was so excited. Bordeaux was about 2 hours by train from Paris and the trip went by fast. I arrived at the train station in Bordeaux thinking, "how the heck am I going to get to the apartment?" But, wonder of wonders, the girl who's apartment I was subletting was there at the train station. With her boyfriend, who was VERY good at lugging around suitcases.

I still had difficulty trying to speak to them in French and to understand what they were saying, but luckily gratitude and kindness are both common languages around the world.

To see what I have learned about packing in the last 12 years, you can go here .

"Her Royal Highness's Matched Luggage" - Original Source HERE. Edited by Me.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! That is awesome. My first trip abroad was to visit a friend who was studying in London. I actually packed super smart for that trip. I only brought a small carry on and then I packed an empty duffle bag in that so I could bring stuff home that I bought (and boy, did we buy alot on that trip!). Then I went to Australia for 4 months for a study abroad program, which was super fun. i had one of those awkward suitcases that you describe that does not really roll. I mean, I think it had wheels but I was never able to do the whole 'pulling the bag by the strap' technique. Now I have invested in Samsonite lugggage that is the spinner type, so it has 4 wheels. IT's amazing. I got a deal on it as I bought it after Christmas a couple of years ago. Best. Stuff. Ever.