Oui, Pinch Me – I’m in Paris!
“Bonjour mon ami! Maritza will be sharing her discoveries, joys and snafus while studying in Paris. Bon voyage!”
Welcome to Venice! Sorry, Venise! Um…Venezia??
I spent this spring break in the beautiful city of Venice! The amazing thing about travelling in Europe is the close proximity of such different cultures. After taking two metros to a parking lot to take a chartered bus to Beauvais, an airport in a remote area outside of Paris (the price one pays to travel cheaply!), the electronic sign telling us when our plane was arriving said we were going to Venise (the French word for the city). When we finally landed after our two hour flight, we were in bella Venezia. It was amazing to realize how much French I really knew when I was unable to use any of it. Ou est… (where is), S’il vous plait (please) and Non, nous avons reservé nos chambres le 12 mars!! (No, we reserved our rooms on March 12!!) would not do here. We finally got our rooms after getting on a computer and Google translating an entire paragraph to Italian (to find out later that our dear concierge spoke perfectly good English) explaining that we already paid for ten percent of our reservation.
Don’t take this personally but…
Europe is famous for its hostels. Young travelers from all over the world stop to lay their heads on their cheap pillows. Besides being a great place to reside economically, many people enjoy staying in hostels because of the variety of nationalities found within its walls. Within a few minutes, my friend Elizabeth and I had met a girl from Malaysia, another one from Russia, and two guys – one from Japan and the other Brazil. While we were in awe of their cultures, they were especially interested ours and asked a lot of questions. “Do you shop at Abercrombie & Fitch a lot?” “Do you like McDonald’s?” “Is my English good?” “You’re from Florida? …Miami!!” “Don’t take this personally but how do you feel about the US’s involvement in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?”
Europe is famous for its hostels. Young travelers from all over the world stop to lay their heads on their cheap pillows. Besides being a great place to reside economically, many people enjoy staying in hostels because of the variety of nationalities found within its walls.
At first taken aback, I quickly realized that the “inquisitive” Brazilian medical student didn’t really care about what we thought but wanted to rant about his thoughts on the “money-hungry oil companies” that George Bush “hooked up.” His tirade was a reminder that while the world has a (generally) neutral to positive attitude about the United States (thanks Obama!) there are still many, many people who don’t share those sentiments.
Besides getting lectured to by an obnoxious Brazilian guy, we visited the famous places of Venice including St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, and St. Mark’s cathedral. My favorite part was our visit to Venice’s surrounding islands. We took a boat to Murano (famous for its glassmaking, I was so impressed I bought a glass horse!), Burano (a fisherman town known for its bright houses and lace-making), and Torcello (home of the oldest cathedral in Venice). Along with seeing the touristy side of Venice, we were able to see how the “locals” lived as well. For the five days we were there, we saw countless people celebrating graduations. The graduating students would run around the town drinking and eating, the ones who received doctorates would get things like flour, spaghetti sauce, and eggs thrown at them as they played drums and tried to read off a long list on a sheet of paper (this is when knowing Italian would have come in handy).
My trip to Venice was a great vacation but I’m pretty much ready to go back to Paris. French class was on hiatus for a bit but now I’m super excited to tell my professor that I was finally thinking in French!
By Maritza Moulite, University of Florida
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