Busy Weekends in Europe: Part 1

Joseph Kalmar
February 19, 2020

The past few weeks I’ve experienced the frustrating conflict between exploring many different places that I’d like to write about but being unable to write about them because I’m too busy exploring them. Between classes, two IES Abroad directed weekend trips, and one independent trip, I’ve only been able to really catch my breath (to a certain extent) this past weekend. Due to the sheer amount of information that I’d like to impart, I’ll be splitting this entry into two separate posts to make the reading (and the writing) a little more manageable.

The first weekend after classes began IES Abroad took the students in my program on a daytrip to Saint-Malo, a charming little walled city almost completely surrounded by the ocean, and Mont-Saint-Michel, the quintessential French landmark. Saint-Malo was foggy but still very fun to explore, with hundreds of feet of ancient ramparts and a somewhat haunting tidal island with the tomb of François-René de Chateaubriand, a famous French poet. 

But as fun as the spooky atmosphere created by the fog was, I was still overjoyed when the day cleared up significantly as we approached Mont-Saint-Michel. I will admit to tearing up a bit as I got my first good look at the ancient abbey, overcome with emotion at seeing such a breathtaking view in person for the first time. Of course, the term “breathtaking” took on a completely different meaning after I’d climbed the forty flights of stairs to ascend through the town and into the abbey proper. Nevertheless, exploring the abbey was very cool, and I hope to fulfill my lifelong dream of seeing some quicksand in real life when I return there with my mom in about two weeks.

The next weekend, my friends and I took some time to relax after a long week of classes by…taking a spontaneous trip to London! I was admittedly a little alarmed to arrive there the Friday that Brexit took effect, but thankfully the British are less prone to rioting in the streets than the French. I think we did as much sightseeing as was physically possible on Saturday, starting with a tour of the Tower of London and winding our way back to our hotel via the Tower Bridge, the Globe Theater, the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and finally Buckingham Palace. And as much as I’ve been enjoying French food, I will admit to going a little bit hog wild on the fish and chips we had for dinner that evening. We flew back to Nantes on Sunday afternoon, so we were all able to relax at least a little bit before another week of classes began.

Joseph Kalmar

<p>I'm a sophomore in college who has studied French for over seven years. In addition to reading, singing, and playing various musical instruments, I'm an avid fan of birdwatching, watching hockey, and traveling.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
College of Wooster, The
Bowling Green, OH
French Language
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