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Dispatches from Abroad

Friday, Jan. 28, 2011 4:01 p.m.

Updates from Ashley, back from Paris

by admin

This post was written by Ashley Carufel, who was studying abroad in Paris, France.

Though Ashley's trip to Paris ended with grueling travel conditions, she said studying abroad was a great choice. Photo courtesy of Ashley Carufel

Paris gave me four wonderful months of wine and culture, and I guess it just did not want to let me go.

In the middle of December, as final exams were finishing up and my friends in Paris were beginning to fly back to America, Mother Nature decided to throw a hissy fit and bring down more snow than Europe has apparently seen in decades.

For myself and many of my fellow study abroad-ers who had grown homesick, this deluge was not boding well for my impending flight home. Months ago when I was booking flights, I strategically (or so I thought) chose a later flight back to the States to avoid the chaos of taking my last exam and having to immediately get to the airport.

Initially, my plan worked well because I had three full days after exams to go Christmas shopping at my own pace, and soak in my last moments of Paris. Meanwhile, just about everyone I knew was stranded at the airport – some for days – sleeping there in hopes their flight would eventually depart.

My flight was scheduled to take off four days before Christmas, and I went to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, which should be renamed Legion of Snowy Despair Airport, assuming that the melting snow would mean I would be home soon. However, my Irish ancestry turned on me as the blizzard had moved to Dublin, the scheduled location of my connection.

Needless to say, my flight too was canceled, and I began my stay at “Hotel-Paris-Airport-Eats-Souls.” Some would say being stranded in Paris would be a dream. I only have choice French words for those people—and, trust me, I only learned the really foul ones.

During this time, it seemed every single college student on my plane began to unknowingly recreate the cast dynamic of “Lost.” Some of us became the group’s leader trying to fix the situation, some would collect our food vouchers to periodically bring back snacks for sustenance, and some of us just wept. I became the logical one who decided I just needed to get out of Europe. I figured if the storm had moved on to Ireland, then I should not be trying to get on standby for any flight headed there. Myself and a few others banded into an alliance and used our option for a free rebooking on a different airline to get direct flights to Boston on Christmas Eve.

Not wanting to spend three whole days in the airport waiting for that flight, my comrades and I pestered our new airline to get on an earlier standby flight. With only four hours of sleep in us, the Air France employees took pity on our poor pathetic souls and magically got us seats on the one flight that day to Boston. I remained very calm during this 36-hour ordeal, but once I got my boarding pass the waterworks started.

Now that I’m back at GW, I am definitely happy to be back amongst the normalcy of my home, English-speakers, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Spending my first semester of senior year studying abroad was the best decision I could have made, but once midterms hit I know I’ll be wishing I could be back in the “City of Lights” with my beloved cheese and pretentious Parisians.

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