Going solo in France

To start my second year I wanted to go explore solo and get a taste of that “worldly feeling” all these gap year people go on about.

My first year had me scrounging for deals in Aldi and pouring countless vodka cokes in hopes of affording some textbooks (woe is me, I know). So after my summer working in a factory and making a decent penny for my first pre-loan rent payments, I met up with one of my friends from college who had become the person of envy with her stints around the globe. She was self-funded and was telling me her tips for travelling on the cheap, which I’ll be sure to make a separate post about. By the time I left her house, I had booked a two day trip to Grenoble, France! The whole trip including flights, a room and some food cost me a total of £60!

I had only ever been on a proper holiday once before with my boyfriend and never on my own, so it would be an understatement to say I was petrified. My plane was delayed and I arrived in France at midnight. With no roaming data and a vague description of my accommodation location, I boarded a tram, loudly weeping, and headed into the town centre at 1am.

As I stood at my stop, panic having completely taken over, trying to figure out which direction in this four exit square my host had allocated as “go straight”. I sat on the ground, crying even harder and accepting this was how it was all going to end, when suddenly my phone lit up.

Connected to EDUROAM?

Luck being on my side, it turns out I was near the local university, which uses the same generic Wi-Fi as a lot of universities in the UK. I was saved by what I had previously only seen as an unreliable connection that loved to cut out in my halls! I looked around, trying to see if the internet fairy was just nearby, taking pity on my weepy attempt at travelling, but I was alone in the middle of a square at 1am. From then I was able to use maps to find my apartment, which ended up being a five minute walk away down a straight road of the exit opposite the tram stop…

It was a short trip but I had so much fun! My host was a lovely young French woman who listened to French pop really loud and danced around with a hairbrush like a deleted scene from Mamma Mia. Being a mountainous town, I was able to use a cable car for the first time, a very rickety and terrifying time, but with the view of the town below it was amazing all in all. I also just had a great time to reflect, what with the mountain being very popular for hiking with easy trails throughout, and proceeding to walk down as opposed to using the cable car again which took about three hours. It only took so long as I was photo-mad, as well as eating many snacks on the way down.

After the initial shock, I would really recommend travelling alone at least once, and know that I plan on doing it again soon when I have some disposable cash lying around.

-Chi

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