I haven’t written much specifically for this blog lately because frankly, the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve found myself in four different airports in between six planes on my way to two new cities, I remembered how to do research, and somewhere along the way I went and had myself a birthday. Consider this my catch-up post.
First: Istanbul. I spent eight days there at the end of October, during my Toussaint break. I’m glad I went, for the experience of having been there (and for the glorious, glorious food), but it’s just not my city. There was a lot of shouting, there were a lot of people, and—with my glow-in-the-dark skin and utter lack of Turkish language skills—it was very difficult for me to pass as anything but a tourist. I think that played into my biggest complaint, honestly: most of the time, I felt like I was little more than a target for people trying to sell me something. That’s partially on me, of course, and I think I could have enjoyed the trip more had I approached it with a different mindset (and a better itinerary), but I don’t know that I need to go back right away to give it a go.
Barcelona, on the other hand, was rainy and expensive and I loved almost every moment of my four days there. Even though my Spanish extends only to basic phrases and words for food—and I only understand Catalan when it overlaps with French or Spanish—everyone was very friendly and I felt very comfortable in the city. The assortment of artsy stores and restaurants reminded me more than a little of Portland (my second-favorite US city) and the twisting streets of Barri Gotic looked like the Europe I imagined when reading
too much fiction as a teen. I was admittedly frustrated by the steep admission fees at most attractions—I’ve been spoiled by DC—but I would go back in a heartbeat.
While I was there, I turned 21 (an extremely anticlimactic milestone, given that I live in France) and instead of getting drunk and having my forehead stamped at the Tombs, I just ate a lot of tapas. (I also bought a pair of jeggings, but that was an unrelated incident.)
In between the two trips, I gave a presentation on the Smithsonian (which, with the help of a very patient French classmate, didn’t go too badly), edited a lot of photos, celebrated a friend’s birthday, and took in a bit of surprisingly gorgeous winter weather.
And somehow, while I was doing all of that, several weeks seem to have passed. Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and with it the end of my first three months in Lyon—a third of my stay. After that, we’re scarcely an advent calendar away from Christmas, when I’ll bid adieu to the four Hoyas returning to the Hilltop. Sometimes it feels like the time is flying by, but when I’m sitting on the train back from the airport, I realize that after Lyon really does feel like home.