Originally published May 2015
It’s official, I am in Lyon, France. It hasn’t really hit yet, but that might because the day has felt so long (although I haven’t slept in the past thirty-four hours to be fair). I must admit though, I feel as though I have learned some things on this forever long day.
Push Through the Pain
I have been up longer than I believe I have ever been. Thirty-four hours is painful. I am so tired writing this. It will however be worth it tomorrow when I am completely in tune to the normal day in France.. Rather push out one day full of exhaustion than be off for the next week. So ignore your jet lag, drink some coffee, and remember that forcing yourself to stay awake one day is the best option, although it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
Long Layovers Aren’t Necessarily Bad
My flight group had a three hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany. While initially that number sounded outrageously long, it was actually the perfect time, regardless of the fact that at six in the morning it didn’t seem ideal. The fact was we needed that time. For starters, German security is much more thorough than I was expecting. At least half of my group of thirty was stopped for extra bag checks or pat downs, and one of my friends actually had so many rechargers and other electronics that she had seven security guards checking her bag and asking her questions to ensure she wasn’t trying to cause harm. (They even swabbed her calculator, that’s how meticulous they take the safety of their passengers!) The long layover didn’t make us feel pressured for time, which was comforting in times of high stress.
Food is Life
I packed a ton of granola bars coming into this trip and that was probably my best decision of the day. As it turns out, Lyon is essentially shut down on Sundays, leaving few restaurants and grocery stores open. So when I’m sitting in my dorm room at ten o’clock at night, without much food I am able to turn towards my last minute packed snacks. Because while my meals on the airplane were surprisingly tasty, they were also many an hour ago.
Find a Native Guide
Due to the fact that we are studying abroad, we had a student of the CEFAM (the university we are taking lessons at) come and help us move in. This student went above and beyond for us though, and decided to spend extra time with us showing us around the city. While I am positive I won’t remember everything he pointed out tomorrow, it definitely helped me see the city I will call home these next six weeks while at the same time having me feel completely comfortable, as someone who lives in Lyon is unlikely to get lost. He was also able to show us some of the cooler things in the city that weren’t too far away. It is because of my wonderful tour guide why I was able to have a relaxing lunch on the river today, as opposed to a rushed lunch somewhere that was far less beautiful.
Do Hard Tasks Early
There are things that just need to get done. Unpacking the majority of your things, planning out your future days, whatever needs to get done has to happen. One of those things for me was connecting to the WiFi. Besides the fact that I wanted to be connected with the rest of the world again, I also had to contact my parents to reassure them I arrived in one piece, and two of my friends were in different residence halls and we had made tentative dinner plans – plans I wasn’t able to follow through on because I couldn’t contact them. It turns out that connecting to WiFi was not even close to a breeze, it took my friend David a solid forty-five minutes to get me connected, and he spent three hours going around to help others. Something we did notice was that as the day got later (and the hours we were awake grew larger and larger) the frustration level concerning the WiFi difficulties increased. So if there is a task that is potentially challenging, I urge you to do it as soon as possible so you don’t have to do it when it’s the last thing in the world you actually want to do.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun on a stressful day. You are traveling to an exciting place! One that has surprises you can’t even imagine ahead of you. So it’s important to remember that traveling is fun, even though it can be hard day one. Take a deep breath, check out your magnificent view, and think about what lies ahead!