There are many reasons I love living in Europe: the food, the culture, the history, the architecture– but one thing that stands above all else is the ability to be spontaneous.
Amidst work, grocery shopping, and a serious case of jetlag, I found myself looking at train tickets to Pairs for the weekend. My twinge of curiosity prompted a quick opening of my wallet as I found some irresistible deals on trains and hostels. Perhaps a rash decision given the transit strikes in France, but with the favorable train connections and my sights set on a romantic destination, it was as if my 3-day vacation were ordained by God.
There is a reason “sieze the day” has its origins in Europe.
Any other weekday, I would have been setting my binge lineup on Netflix and Hulu, instead, I found myself packing snacks and clothes into a backpack for a spontaneous weekend escape.
And off I went. Two trains and three hours later I was in the city of lights, popping into boutiques in Beaubourg, snacking on falafel in Le Marais, and book peeping at Shakespeare and Co.
I fully appreciate where I am living. Rarely do people have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in a different culture, to live in another country, to experience a new way of life, work environment, and education system. I count myself lucky. Of course, the envy on my friend’s faces when I name drop yet another city from my growing list of travel conquests isn’t too bad either… though since moving to Europe, I haven’t indulged quite as much as I should (or could).
When I studied abroad, I went somewhere new almost every weekend. It was a day and age where a 4-hour train delay was a “sightseeing opportunity.” Now I have a paycheck and travel less? The math doesn’t add up!
For me, one of the challenges of living in Europe (with no discernable end in sight) is that I don’t take advantage of the opportunity for spontaneity and adventure that brought me here in the first place. It is so easy to fall into my streaming cycle, to get distracted by work, chores, or social activities. When I knew my visa was ending and had my return flight booked, the pressure was on! Now, I have an apartment that needs cleaning… which is clearly much more exciting than a weekend in Paris, right?
Surprise: Paris is more exciting.
Whenever I embrace the spontaneity inherent within my European experience, I never regret it. Wherever I go, I spend my ride home considering destinations for my next getaway and wondering why I didn’t do this sooner.
So, where to next?
Renee is a study abroad and travel enthusiast. In her spare time, you can find her learning a new skill, practicing German, or exploring a new city! She is an alumna of the European Study Center in Strasbourg and now works in Germany as The CEPA Foundation’s Director of Engagement.