The Road Not Taken But That Should Have Been

14 Sep

One of the most important lessons that one should remember, especially when traveling to any location, is to know where to go. Sadly, I cannot say that this lesson was applied very well in my case but I’ll do my best to explain. I certainly hope that you can enjoy the humor.

Having been lucky enough to spend the summer in Europe ( in Germany) with some family, I was able to get a ride from them to Strasbourg itself. The drive itself wasn’t too difficult, minus the autobahn traffic around Karlsruhe and the various construction projects going on. Armed with an address for my meeting with my Erasmus coordinator, I showed up and started exploring the campus. The first point of interest was housing. Organization was awful and I wasn’t even aware of where my room would be, what it would have in it, and whether I would even be able to move in the same day or not. I only knew that I had a room reserved for me in the campus somewhere. I had to ask at least 4 people who finally led me to the key housing person. To keep it short, it wasn’t the most relaxing experience and I might have slightly pulled my hair out. After going thru 2 buildings and waiting to speak with an international relations office member, I finally got my room and start unpacking. The relief of knowing that I had a bed to sleep in for the night made up for most of the stress finding the housing itself. The room is wonderful and it will eventually become “home”.

Later, the Erasmus meeting itself was very informative and showed me that I definitely wasn’t alone here, as there was a room of 400 seats and almost ALL of them were taken. It was somewhat comforting to know that we all felt the same thing, regardless of our origins. There was a pot d’accueil after the meeting in the CAVO of the Gallia building and thankfully, the students who organized it, led us there, and saved us the trouble of looking like lost sheep. They also armed us with one of the most important objects: a map. Without it, I would have been lost since the beginning. Since that meeting, I have taken it everywhere with me and used it on numerous occasions to check where I’m going and how to get there. It’s now part of my Strasbourg survival kit. I found out more about the various resources here: the administrative buildings, the liberal arts campus, and the areas one can go to for help. I was able to ask questions and found out where I could go for groceries and other important items.

At the end of the evening, I went out with my family who was staying the night in a hotel) and we started looking for dinner. At nice thirty at night, many restaurants and even some brasseries were closing. We were lucky and found a wonderful Italian restaurant that was still open. The food was good, the service was fantastic, and the atmosphere was very relaxing. At the end of dinner, we once again started looking at the map, figuring out our route. After asking the waiter who showed us the most direct route, a very kind lady and her son offered to drive us back to the dormitory. I was shocked at such kindness and took her up on her offer. Within 5 minutes, this lady offered to show us Strasbourg by night. While one should always beware of strangers and of getting in cars they don’t know, this was a safe situation. Christine W. and her son Paul spent a complete hour showing us ALL the sides of the city of Strasbourg. They drove and explained the history, the culture, and recommended things that one should experience here. After the hour was over, I felt more aware of the city, the distances, and also somewhat more familiar with roads.

The moral of this story is this: Know where you are going and be informed. Even if it means looking at a map of the city on mapquest for 30 minutes, that really can make a large difference. Write down addresses that might be useful, and always have some sort of map on hand to go places without getting lost. Being informed can’t ever hurt, it can only help. Armed with my map, I plan to conquer the area that is Strasbourg. Until my next entry, adieu

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