I was part of an internship program in 2011 called Dream Careers. The mission of the program is to help place you in the city of your choice with one of the top internships in your given field. They help set up your interviews, secure your accommodations at a nearby university and organize trips & guest speakers to help with career building. I chose Los Angeles, where I got to intern at one of the top fashion Public Relations companies in the industry. While gifting clothing to models & actors and writing about the latest celebrity gossip did not become my career path, I did walk away with some incredible friends who I'm still close with today. THIS is how I ended up in Grenoble, France.
Chris & I were neighbors @ USC and bonded over our New England backgrounds. He moved onto France this year to earn a PHD. I trusted that if he said Grenoble was a must-see, he wouldn't be lying. He advised me to fly from Amsterdam to either Lyon, France or Geneva, Switzerland and book a bus or train to Grenoble. First thought? Chris totally lives in the boonies.
Little did I know....
Grenoble is a magestic French city on the foot of the Alps. If I were to write a fairytale it would certainly take place here. We took a gondola to the top of La Bastille for my first French beer & the views were breathtaking. I was sure we would see a unicorn prance by and I would wakeup from this dream but there were no mythical creatures, just me in a sundress staring out to snowcapped mountains.
This city was quick to draw me in. Before I knew it I was greeting everyone with a kiss on each cheek, eating loaves of French bread whenever possible & saying "Bonjour!" in a horrible attempt at being French.
Things I can't wrap my head around in France:
1. Murses (aka man purses). I cannot take a guy seriously if he is wearing the same over-the-shoulder purse as me and it's a total blow to the ego when the murse is Prada and mine was from Marshalls.
2. French fries dipped in mayonnaise. I can't even say this without gagging.
3. Stores & restaurants being closed for several hours in the middle of the day. This is true for all of Europe. If you're hungry for a solid Linner at 4pm than tough! It's not in the cards for you.
All joking aside -
The warm hospitality in Grenoble was unlike anything I've experienced in such a short amount of time & here's the catch - it wasn't from the French! Yes, I met some amazing French natives (others not so nice) but Chris's Uni friends (all working toward PHD's) are from (Brace yourself) - India, Lebanon, Greece, US, Guinea, Colombia, France, Russia, Germany, Morocco, China & India. If you took a photo of their crew you could turn it into a politically correct poster with a corny saying like "There's no 'I' in team" and hang it in an elementary school classroom. You Americans know exactly what I'm saying.
To put this into perspective - we had a cookout at Chris's friend Alex's house. Chris (American) grilled meat, Akriti (Indian) marinated the chicken in a yogurt sauce, Panos (Greek) made a salad, etc. Every person comes from a COMPLETELY different background and they've created this fascinating friendship that is much more like a family. I felt right at home.
The unplanned parts of my trips tend to be the most unforgettable. I certainly won't forget being at a Woodstock recereation party in the woods of Southestern France. How do these things happen?