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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Study Abroad: France tour takes unexpected turn

After listening to a description of the towns St. Malo and Mont St. Michel, the students and I went home and prepared for the excursion. The next morning, we all woke up early and met in the front of Universite Catholique to board the tour bus. Usually, on mornings of excursions, people were tired, but this particular morning everyone seemed prepared.

I boarded the bus, slipped on my iPod earphones, and, like a lot of my friends, took a nap. After a little while I awoke to hear Program Director Claudine Giacchetti’s voice on a speaker near the driver’s seat, explaining and pointing out different sites we passed on the highway. Giacchetti had a thorough knowledge of France’s history.

Everything was sailing smoothly and everyone was awake and talking with each other until a weird smell crept over the bus. "Is that nail-polish remover?" Katie Baker asked Lilly Pesoli, whose seat the smell was emerging from. Pesoli said "no," and the puzzled look on her face proved she didn’t know what was going on. Soon, everyone could smell the odor, and after conversing with the bus driver Giacchetti said, "The bus is breaking down. Everyone off the bus."

We quickly shuffled out of the bus onto the grass directly parallel to the highway. The bus driver had a helpless look on his face, and told Giacchetti that a new bus would arrive in an hour. Since we couldn’t afford to waste any time because we had much to see in St. Malo and Mont St. Michel, we decided to travel on foot.

With rain coming down hard, and cars zooming by right next us, we walked, and walked, and then walked some more. Although this wasn’t our plan, it ended up benefiting us because we had a chance to look at our surroundings more closely than we could on a bus.

Half an hour later we arrived in St. Malo. Because of our unexpectedly delayed arrival, we didn’t have much time to walk around the town before the tour with Giacchetti was set to begin. Most of us were hungry after the long walk and wanted to eat before walking again on the tour, so a group of us searched for restaurants. Since it was before noon, most restaurants were not yet open. On the brink of giving up, we found a restaurant that was open and rushed to a table. Knowing we had only 15 minutes before meeting with Giacchetti we quickly ordered the town’s specialty: crepes and cider. The galette was the main crepe, which had eggs and other toppings. The dessert crepe featured plenty of chocolate drizzled over it. We ate quickly and went to meet with Giacchetti and the other students, who had wondered where we were.

This prelude to the tour was unbelievable, and so was the rest of the day, as you’ll find out next time. For reference to past episodes in this series, visit www.thedailycougar.com and search "France."

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