I lived in Strasbourg during my sophomore year of college, where I attended EM Strasbourg Business School (IECS). Looking back, it was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done. As Marquette’s sole student embarking to Strasbourg, I moved to a foreign country solo, found a studio, found a way to furnish said studio, and realized how shitty my French actually was. Over the course of the next month or so, it was a combination of sink & swim. I’d get hopelessly lost trying to follow my classes, the great majority of which were taught in French (read: sinking, nearly to the point of drowning) and then I’d pick up a few new colloquials and feel super cool around my new French friends (read: swimiming…the 100 meter butterfly).
True, there were a few cross-Atlantic Skype meltdowns [Mom, what am I DOING here?! I don’t know an English-speaking soul]. By the end, though, I had made some amazing friends–both English and French-speaking–and I didn’t want to leave my new life. I often wish I could go back and re-create my experience, even if just for a weekend. If I did have a weekend, this is how I’d spend it:
After sleeping in on Saturday morning, I’d walk to Pâtisserie Jean-Claude Ziegler for a chocolate éclair.
I’d walk along the river in La Petite France, take in the French & German influences, the half-timbered houses and then stop at a café to people watch and take an espresso.
For dinner on Saturday night, I’d stop into Au Pont St. Martin. Although touristy, it has an incredible salade de chèvre chaud (salad with warm goat cheese) and is beautifully situated right on the water.
Later Saturday night, I’d go see a football game at Stade de la Meinau-Strasbourg. Back in 2008, we saw the Strasbourg v. Metz game, which was insane. Part of the stands were set on fire because the crowd was so amped up. If you listen closely to the end of the video clip, you’ll hear my friend, Julien, ask me “are you looking for your husband?” This was a rolling joke because I found one of the football players very attractive. Once I admitted it to my friends, #3 became known as my “husband”.
Sunday morning, I’d go for, yup, another éclair, but this time from Kretz Salon de thé. I’d thank the owner for being so kind to me whenever I went in there a few years ago. Afterwards, I’d spend my afternoon in Parc de l’Orangerie, reading and soaking up the sun. We spent lots of time here studying, laying out, goofing off.
After working up an appetite, I’d head to Il Journal. This place is not French in the slightest–in fact, it’s Italian. And it’s not even all that impressive. The reason it’s special, though, is because my favorite Aussies and I would go when we desperately wanted a decent pizza in our lives.
After dinner, I’d walk around and remind myself how beautiful the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Strasbourg is at night. Seriously. Just look at it. Amazing.
At the end of the day, though, I’m not sure the city would be the same without my circle of friends from IECS . Without the pre-drinks, the wandering around, the trying not to fail out of French business classes, I probably won’t come near re-creating the experience.
If I do go back, I think they’d have to come with me.