Over the holidays, I found the strength to climb to the upper levels of my credit card limit and finally head to Europe, namely, Barcelona and Paris. These are some assorted thoughts.
Previous Attempts to go to Europe
· Fall 2005 Study Abroad Info Session:
o You’re too young to study abroad, you have like 5 more semesters to give it a go!
· Fall 2006 Study Abroad Info Session:
o Yikes, that’s a lot of money…what a convenient excuse!
· Fall 2007 Study Abroad Info Session:
o You’re too coward to study abroad and you always have been, stop coming to these meetings.
· Fall 2008 Study abroad Info Session
o “Sorry sir, Study Abroad is not available to recent graduates.”
· Traveling on Christmas, now that’s the move! I avoided at least five family holiday-based mini panic attacks by only doing Christmas Eve.
o I replaced these mini panic attacks with one giant panic attack:
§ Hurry up, we’ll be late!
§ Get in line, get the fuck in line!
§ Why are you punching me in the chest? You’re not?
§ Which seat if F? Which seat is fucking F?!?
§ YOU MEAN WE’RE PUTTING 400 PEOPLE ON A MACHINE AND THEN FLYING OVER AN OCEAN AT NIGHT TIME!
· Airplane food. Let’s just say Seinfeld was right.
o That’s as bad as a Seinfeld joke, or no?
· By hour 7 of an 8 hour flight, everyone’s just farting openly.
o …right guys?
Barcelona & Paris Learnings
· The day-time high in Barcelona was like 65 degrees in late December. And yet, all the locals were wearing parkas!
o Leave your science at the door, I don’t care if cold is relative.
· Barcelona (and all of Catalonia) wants out from under the control of the Spanish government. Think Texas, but legitimate. It was moving to see Catalonians from all ages and walks of life wear their want for independence on their face and in their core.
o But don’t’ get mad at the Americans for calling it Spain! I’m sorry! I come from a country where people don’t realize that there are different nations within Africa!
· Pickpockets everywhere!
o I admire the Europeans specialize in a crime that required subterfuge, subtlety, and cunning.
§ But still, fuck you! If you want my money, approach me on Spring Garden Street yell “Now it’s time to play, bitch!” pull a knife and take my money like a god damned man.
§ I am happy to report that I yelled “GET AWAY FROM ME!” to a homeless man before he even had the chance to approach me
§ And even happier report that I made it home without being pickpocketed! Kiss my ignorant American ass you sneaky fuckers! I live in a city way more fucked up than yours!
· There are three primary sects of English-speaking travelers: Australians, Brits, and Americans. All three are looked down upon by the Spaniards, the French, the Italians, etc.
o As a last desperate attempt to maintain their international credibility, the Australians and British team up to straight crush any Americans they encounter
o In front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, a British man told me to “get lost buddy…you must not understand how this works, American.”
o The first time I’ve ever experienced prejudice in my entire life! I’m a white, middle-class, corporate cog! It’s impossible to prejudice against me! I’m the worst! I’m so vanilla no one has even thought to show prejudice towards me!
§ Granted, I cut in line in front of him and his wife after they’d been waiting for 45 minutes. But that’s because I was temporarily being a dick, not because my ancestors bravely crossed the Baltic and Atlantic back in the day!
· On New Year’s Eve, I opened champagne for the first time in my life
o I was never a whiz at geometry
o I had the bottle angled 45 degrees, upwards and outwards
o Luckily nothing happened, except I cracked the shit out of some French woman with the cork
o The French term for “I’m sorry” is “Je suis desolee”
§ Which is about the ugliest sound an American pretending to speak French can make
o I did not get the chance to see if the angry French boyfriend of the struck woman buoyed the “wussy French” stereotype coined by George W. Bush
§ Because I ran like a coward
People are selfish ass-holes everywhere, and the young spoiled/emo/self-hating American’s view of Europe as this magical place full of cultured demi-gods is a crock of shit.
Sure, you’re less likely to see a fat piece of shit in a Dodge Ram with a “Kill ‘em all let God sort ‘em out” bumper sticker, but everyone’s still self-centered, egotistical, and slightly to very racist. Rich people still carry briefcases and shout into their blue tooth, teenagers still gather in packs and terrify a whole block of tourists, and house music still terrifies and confuses me. There’s no Applebee’s but there’s the equivalent, selling worse food for more money. There’s little chance you will see two homeless people yelling at each other across the street about past injustices…actually, there’s totally a chance, because homelessness is, unfortunately, everywhere. And over there they all had dogs! Buddy, you live underneath the awning of Monoprix grocery store, maybe you shouldn’t have a Bichon Frise. That being said, I was in a room that was built like 2800 years ago and is nicer than my apartment, so that’s a win for Europe.Follow @cplannan