In the summer of 2010 I was an intern at a business school in Nantes, France. Up to that point in my life, applying to work and live in France was the most adventurous thing I'd ever done. I loved staying with my host family, exploring the city and practicing my French, though I was homesick and had some definite culture shock. (Banks in France don't have cash boxes, so when the ATM gives you a 50 euro note you can't walk in and break it into smaller bills. I still don't understand it. It's a bank - why don't they have cash handy?) There were two other girls from Michigan interning in the same school, which made it much easier to adjust and gave me automatic travel buddies on the weekends.
|Houses by the chateau in Nantes - the former moat is now mostly a garden.|
One weekend, however, I had Friday off of work and the other Michigan girls had plans. Without my usual travel companions, my first thought was that I'd be spending all three days in Nantes. This would have been fine since it is a great city, but I wanted to see more of the country. Specifically, I wanted to see castles. The idea of traveling on my own made me nervous. What if I got lost? What if something happened and I got stuck in a random town? What if my guide book was out of date and the buses I was counting on were no longer running? As I thought through the various scenarios, I also thought about what some of my favorite people would do. My best friend Hope was living in France on her own that summer and often took trips around the country. My boyfriend Eric traveled on his own all the time. My aunt moved to Turkey when she was only a little older than me. If they could do it, I thought, I can do it. I shouldn't let myself be held back because I'm on my own. I got out my guide book, did some research online, and planned my weekend.