My First Time Abroad

By Alexandria Graziosi

Having never traveled outside of the country before, I expected my experiences on the GCU Paris trip to be unforgettable. The city itself was breathtaking and the landmarks we visited were nothing short of the descriptions that the modernist writers provided me with. However, what made the trip so memorable weren’t the places that I saw or even the food that I ate (although for me the food was pretty unforgettable), but it was the people with whom I traveled.

Graz.1 Graz.2

On the first day of our trip, we stopped by Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach’s famous bookstore that also served as a gathering place for modernist writers like Pound and Hemingway, and Dr. Rader commented on how rare it is to be traveling with so many people who enjoy the same things. The seven of us all shared similar interests but we also appreciated each other’s specific interests. On the trip, each of us had at least one thing we wanted to do or see before we left. Places like Victor Hugo’s home, Notre Dame, and even the catacombs were all on our agendas (although I could have done without walking miles through tunnels made of human remains).

While most of the group wanted to see these things as well, being able to see somebody else soaking up the energy of the home of their favorite author or the places they’ve only seen in their books was truly amazing. For me visiting Gertrude Stein’s grave was one of the highlights of the trip. While the graveyard of Père Lachaise she was buried in was a point of interest for everyone, seeing Stein’s grave specifically was a moment for me that I will never forget. Being a longtime fan of Stein and her work, the act of visiting her grave for me felt as if I was stopping by to see an old friend. On our walk back from the cemetery, I was explaining this feeling to my two roommates on the trip. While I was a little nervous on how they would receive it, they both shared with me how equally excited they were to visit the grave and how cool it was that I walked away with that experience.

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