Wednesday, August 31, 2016

First days in Strasbourg!

Whoa, it's so cool here. I only have a few minutes to post, so please forgive the awful formatting and such.

I arrived safely in Strasbourg on Sunday around 3pm French time (9am for Ohio friends). It took me a couple days to get comfortable with the time change, but I feel pretty good to go now.

My flight was SUPER comfortable. Riding first class with Delta for half the cost of a normal flight was such a treat, so another huge thank you to Bryan for getting me that Buddy Pass! Check these photos of my five-course dinner and fully reclining seat!

Yes, that's Remember the Titans... :) 

Once I landed in Paris, I had three hours until my train left for Strasbourg. I was going to have four hours, but the flight left Cinci an hour late because of a mechanical snafu. It took about an hour to get through French Customs, and that was honestly not bad at all because I think I was half asleep the whole time I was in line. There were nice grandparent-like folks behind me being super friendly, and a family ahead of me playing games to pass the time... Naturally that made it feel just like home.
Inside the train station in Paris
I was comfortably sitting in the train station about an hour and a half before my train was scheduled to leave, and I'd recommend a similar amount of time between a flight and train ticket (future study abroad-ers) because I wouldn't have wanted to rush... Especially since I don't know French and wouldn't be able to ask for help clearly and quickly.

BY THE WAY, French people at the airport and train stations have all been extremely kind to me even though I don't know much French at all. Some people told me that wouldn't be the case, so I figured I need to give the French credit.

Out of time, but I'm having A TON of fun and meeting some AMAZING people from all over the globe (literally). I couldn't even count how many different people I've met so far, and how many have greeted my face with kisses... That's a cultural oddity I'll have to get used to. Already, I have friends from all over the world! Here are some pictures of Strasbourg; I'll share pictures of my friends when I get the chance!
& this isn't even the famous cathedral
Petit France is so beautiful
I'll get a better picture,
but this is the inside of the main hall in EM

Quick! By the way!

Huge thank you to one of my best friends, Ellie, for being so thoughtful and writing me the sweetest note & sending a fun picture of us and Kim. It was so fun to find it in my bag in Strasbourg, and remember how fortunate I am to have such a great support system back home.

Also, thanks to Kels for getting up to Skype in the wee hours of the morning... Think 11am my time. You're actually the best.

Love, Julie "Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home"-Tyler Knott Gregson 

P.S. I move out of my airbnb and into La Marne (permanent residence) today! Wish me luck!

P.S.S. Check out my friend Phil's featured write up about his experience in France...
This reminded me how fortunate I am to be able to (1) experience a new culture and explore Europe, and (2) spend a whole academic year doing only that!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Countdown to France

>>>Hello 72 Hours<<<

It's Wednesday. I leave Saturday.

Update: Not going to the lake again for today and tomorrow because packing in 24 hours would be ridiculous and borderline impossible, but my sister got home from Colorado and is home to see me which is nice!

All of my friends at BGSU are off into their new routines, and I'd be lying a lot if I told you it's not hard to miss out on this year with them (the FOMO is real for maybe the first time in my life). I'm a person who puts a huge priority on relationships in my life... That said this choice to study abroad was made purely as a move to invest in myself--my understanding of the world, my education, my future--it's hard to put myself and my selfish goals to have amazing experiences over my relationships with my closest friends. How lucky am I to have friends with similar mindsets and goals who will also be studying abroad, and who are 100% encouraging and loving as I go about this new adventure?

I video-chatted Kels and the girls for a couple minutes this morning as they were cleaning the kitchen in preparation for "Porch Time" where they'll sit out on the front porch most of the day to work on homework and enjoy the breeze, and it was a nice reminder that wifi makes long distance friendships super possible regardless of the continent.
Tyler Knott Gregson did it again with his instagram post yesterday Typewriter Series #1610
Typewriter Series #1610
I'm not a super sappy or sentimental person, but I'm also not cold. Ever since I received my VISA, I've been letting this reality that I'm leaving America sink in more and more. Some days I get little snippet reminders like the poem above to rekindle my passion to expand my horizons in the coming year. In three days, I'll take on a life-altering adventure, and I will most surely come back to America with new perspectives, new strengths, and new inspirations I can't even anticipate.


I look forward to being in a red shirt on a Habitat build next summer!
What does this mean? 
  • Dang, I just secured an awesome internship with an even more awesome company! (think global sustainability leader, partner of Habitat for Humanity, Fortune 500 for 60+ years, etc.)
  • If the internship goes well and Owens Corning is a good cultural fit for me, their Supply Chain Leadership Program would be a super attractive post-grad opportunity.
  • I don't have to search for internships from abroad (THIS IS HUGE).
  • One less unknown in my life **snaps for Julie having plans**
As the days wind down, this list needs to get shorter...
TO DO (like immediately) :
  1. Photocopy important documents and print important confirmation documents
  2. Scan and email miscellaneous paperwork for BGSU and Carty Rentals 
  3. Pack up my life (laundry is done, so that's kind of like progress on this front I think)
  4. Call banks and credit card companies to let them know I will be traveling August - May

In reference to number three above, "Pack up my life", I should share what's currently on that list...

What to take to Strasbourg, France for nine months:

  • Electronics
    • Unlocked iphone 
    • iPhone charger (or two)
    • Macbook
    • Macbook charger
    • iPod (for flight)
    • iPod charger (iPhone 4 charger)
    • Earbuds
  • Money
    • Euros
    • American money
    • Credit/debit cards
  • Documents
    • identification cards [student ID, ISIC card, Drivers license, passport (with VISA page)]
    • Copies of all of those ^^^ for safe keeping (also leaving a copy at home with my parents)
    • OFII Immigration form
    • Extra passport photos (just in case)
    • Printed confirmations of flight, train, airbnb, and Rèsidence La Marne reservation
    • Welcome guide and itinerary for EM Strasbourg for orientation
  • Toiletries/Beauty products
    • Travel-sized toothpaste, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and body wash 
    • Toothbrush & charger
    • Deoderant
    • Headbands (2), hair ties (20), and bobby pins (whatever)
    • Brush
    • Makeup bag
    • Nail clippers, file, favorite polish and top coat
  • Clothes for fall, winter, and spring - below are guidelines, but I probably can't fit everything
    • Outerwear
      • Parka 
      • Mid-weight jacket
      • One sweatshirt (deciding between BG and Michigan will be tough for me)
      • Raincoat
      • Hat (1)
      • Gloves (1)
      • Scarf (1 knit, 1 lightweight)
    • Special Occasions
      • Black 3-piece suit
      • Button downs (1-2)
      • Tan slacks
      • Little black dress (something that will work for casual and formal events)
    • Pants
      • Jeans (2, different denim washes)
      • Plum cords
      • Running tights (2)
      • Running capris (2)
      • Leggings (2)
    • Shorts
      • Printed shorts (1)
      • Demin shorts (1, maybe)
      • Running spandex (1)
      • Running shorts (2)
    • Tops
      • assorted tanks, short sleeves, long sleeves, and sweaters with an emphasis on basics that will layer well and a couple statement items (14-18?)
      • Cardigans (3)
      • Athletic wear (2 shirts, 3 tanks, 2 long sleeve?)
      • College of Business tops (4?)
    • Sleepwear
      • Dinosaur pj shorts
      • Oversized Grounds for Thought shirt :) 
    • Swim
      • One piece (1)
      • Bikini (1)
    • Undergarments
      • enough of the essentials
    • Shoes
      • Running shoes
      • Flats (2 pair?)
      • Riding boots
      • Grey booties
      • Rainboots (if possible; unlikely to fit)
      • Chacos (1-2 pair)
    • Accessories
      • Belts (1 leather, 1 skinny)
      • Jewelry
        • Statement necklaces (2)
        • Inexpensive earrings (3 pairs of studs)
  • Randoms
    • Agenda and pen
    • Tiny stationery pack
    • Travel notebooks (I coincidentally have one from each of my siblings!)
    • Sunglasses
    • Face wipes for travel days
    • Airplane snacks
    • Eye mask (because Chels and I were traveling divas in the fall, and they're actually the best things ever for sleeping on flights)
    • Deck of cards
    • Bath towel (1)
    • Eno hammock and straps (this WILL fit)
    • Frisbee disc (probably won't fit)

What I'm intentionally leaving behind:

  • Hair dryer - shoutout to roomie Francisca for letting me bum hers this fall!
  • Straightener - I may buy one in France, or just go without (**every American girl gasps**)
  • Verizon iPhone - I may regret this, but right now I'm thinking why take unnecessary valuables?
  • Most of my wardrobe - as much as it stresses me out, outfit repeating will have to be a thing :(
  • Additional coats, fleeces, rain jackets, etc. 
  • Shoes - extra sandals, flats, boots, tennis shoes, etc. 
  • Bags - luckily I've never been the trendiest, so this won't be a huge sacrifice
  • Full-sized toiletries - French stores sell shampoo and conditioner

Once I get settled in, I'll post an update to this list with a veterans tips... I'm sure there's a lot I'm over-packing or under-packing, but it's hard to know before I get there.

Oh! Good news on the Delta front... I'm flying with a Buddy Pass. (Read: I'm flying standby.) This is not exactly recommended for business/important travel, but for $1000 I took a  gamble... And (knock on wood) it's looking like a good decision. The flight still has 8 seats in first class and business class (Buddy Passes are first to bump up), and 68 seats remaining on the flight. I'm taking this to mean (1) I will get on this flight and (2) I might even get a really comfortable experience in first class or business class, which would be great for an eight hour flight!

Per usual, I have lovelies to thank!

The Lehman family has been so kind to me! I got to know this awesome family last summer when I was Pool Manager at their club, and I had the girls for swim lessons in the mornings. We had a birthday party and end of the summer party at the pool last summer, and I continued to talk to the girls throughout the school year. I've had the cool opportunity to hang out with the girls and sneak in an ice cream date before I take off, and they've always been so generous to me both in their love and care, and in gifts! Thank you again to these dear friends of mine, and I "almost promise" I will have a picture of the Eiffel Tower for you when I return!

A sidenote to friends and family; I'll try to keep in contact to know about what's going on in your lives, but I am planning on using this blog as a primary way to inform others about mine this year! That said, Whatsapp, email (, and Facebook messenger will be the best ways to personally contact me while I'm in France!

Love, Julie "Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home"-Tyler Knott Gregson 
Not laughing because I'm leaving everything
 in this picture behind.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Final days in Bowling Green

>>>Hello Goodbyes<<<

This week was easily the highlight of my summer. I spent time with my friends in Bowling Green, and helped them break in their new house on E Merry Ave. I handled commitments with Owens Corning, Habitat for Humanity, and Student Ambassadors for the College of Business, and there is great excitement around my future involvement with each of those organizations when I return to Bowling Green in May!
A special thanks is due to Kelsey, Chelsie, and Erica for letting me crash for the week. Additionally, I owe thanks to our awesome guy friends two houses down for making extra time to hang out during my last week in Bowling Green, and friends like Will, Sarah, and Karley who went out of their way to spend time with me before I left, also. Here are a few pictures to sum up our week!
Thank you SO MUCH for everything, girls.

We enjoyed the perks of off-campus living by having a cookout with the guys!

Included: childhood best friends, roommates and suite mates,
and future European adventurers

Chels and me biking to campus for Opening Weekend activities!

Leaving Bowling Green is so hard because I feel so LOVED and SUPPORTED by this community. I can't count the number of people who have wished me well, and told me I will be missed in this coming year. I know this opportunity in Strasbourg will be invaluable, but I'm so thankful to have such an amazing home base in Bowling Green. 

One of my close friends, Ross, is studying at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia right now, and he sent me the kindest note this week. Just a couple months ago he was preparing to leave America. Since he knows I'll be anxious, he sent me a message to comfort me as I prepare for this journey and to encourage me to embrace the opportunities I am about to greet in Strasbourg. Firstly, I was just super appreciative that he took the time to write me such a sweet note since he was just in my shoes. Then, I screenshotted it and sent it to my best friend with the caption, 
'we need meaner friends' then Kelsey and I continued a conversation about how lucky we are to have such awesome friends at Bowling Green State University
A super exciting element of my 'goodbye' with many of my close friends was my ability to say "See you in Europe!" instead of goodbye. Kelsey, Chelsie, Karley, and other friends will be studying abroad, also, so I'll have the unbelievable opportunity to travel and visit my dearest friends across Europe while I'm abroad!

You'll come visit me, right? A question you get to ask when your friends will be a train ride away.

Get it done:
  1. Photocopy important documents, print important confirmation documents, and finish up miscellaneous paperwork for BGSU and Carty Rentals 
  2. Pack up my life, and somehow manage to fit the awesome new gear I was given from the College of Business this week! (pictured below, and at CBA_Rewards )
  3. Call banks and credit card companies to let them know I will be traveling August - May
  4. Grab last minute necessities (outlet converters, a few euros, etc.)

For now, I'll keep enjoying my time at the lake with my family, drinking coffee, and organizing loose ends! 

Per usual, thanks for reading along! I cannot wait to share about my experiences once I arrive in Strasbourg! 

 Love, Julie "Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home"-Tyler Knott Gregson 
Which will Erica miss more? Bill' Donuts or me

Sunday, August 14, 2016

"I've got some good news & some bad news"

>> Hello Flashbacks <<

Do I sound like my mother yet? (Yes, I do) Per Kessler child usual, we'll take the bad news first so we get to end on a high note. At least there's actually good news this time... My mom used to just dish major bad news then follow up with "but the good news is I love you." 


Bad News:

  • I'm starting to get **the feels** about leaving all of my best friends for a year.
  • Summer got away from me, and I forgot to learn survival French... time to hammer on Duolingo, but it's probably too late. (10/10 would recommend Duolingo to learn a foreign language by the way)
  • Honors Scholars is going to Toronto over Fall Break, and I wish I could be in two places at once to join them because it's a place I've been dying to go with a community I love spending time with.
  • Great Books in the fall with Honors Scholars is studying 'the effect of screen culture on our lives', and there's nothing that I can do from afar to replace those stimulating conversations 
  • I need a haircut, and I HATE letting people cut my hair... (doesn't really belong on this list, but I needed to vent) 

Good News:

  • EM Strasbourg sent me information about orientation procedures, and I didn't mess up anything... It may be unwarranted, but I'm pretty proud of myself.
  • Run Away Day (fly out day, August 27th) is quickly approaching, and my biggest remaining stressor is what to pack which means I must have most of my bases covered.
  • I have an interview with Owens Corning this week, so I may land an internship for next summer before I even leave which would be clutch!
  • Habitat is going to be working with Best Friend Kelsey to organize a rivalry event between UT and BGSU, and I could not be more excited to pass on the torch working which such an outstanding organization!
  • I'm using a buddy pass with Delta to fly to France (thank you brother's best friend), so a perk of that is free additional checked luggage.  I CAN PACK LIKE A DIVA NOW, YAY! (And I might not wear my parka and boots to the airport on August 27th... bigger yay!)
  • The orientation outline I received from EM Strasbourg shows that topics like phone plans, banks, and more will be covered in our orientation information. This means I can convince my mother that I have decent reason to inform myself of some of my options, but wait until I'm in France to get  some details nailed down. 
  • Will, a hometown best friend, is likely visiting me in Strasbourg during Ohio State University's spring break! 

 Love, Julie 
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home"-Tyler Knott Gregson 
Can't wait to see if French crêpes top NYC's

P.s. Mom's not very sentimental, so I have to be sentimental for myself... I've been organizing some old photos, and check out these finest moments to get a glimpse into my childhood.

Big brother's come in handy here and there (: 
Our neighborhood kids loved the "fort" my dad built in our backyard, and Mom caught us taking a break from kickball for this picture. 
Every weekend of my early childhood was spent at some type of sporting event.
This is the best we could do, sorry Momma. And thanks for sewing the matching Christmas dresses. 

Murph's Camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is quite rustic, but since this picture they have added plumbing... What luxury! 
Vacations to Venice Beach, FL were great for lizard hunting, and plagued by awkward phases.

Two Weeks Out

>>>Hello Crunch Time<<<

I am super good terrible about actually posting on this blog. I've written three four five  six different posts since my last, but I always let them get outdated before I do a final edit/post. Then the last one just deleted itself completely, so I'm also horribly frustrated with Blogger in general right now. Maybe blogging is a baby steps process, or maybe I just don't look at my planner enough during the summertime... weekly blog posts coming at you soon, I promise.

Either way, I have tons to share. I am leaving for Strasbourg, France in 13 days. (Ay ziggy that's so soon) 

Most of my thoughts have been focused on other priorities since my VISA appointment... In the past couple days and weeks I've...
(1) completed my internship with Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity,
(2) finished my summer course on Purchasing & Supply Management,
(3) said a number of goodbyes to close friends,
(4) started lifeguarding and managing pools again with Dayton Pool Management,
(5) and received my VISA (bless).
(6) I've also celebrated my dear friend Faith's upcoming marriage to Howard VanZant,
(7) run a 5K with my friend Collin who was running the Whitestar Triathlon, 
(8) gone to a Cincinnati Red's game with lifelong best friend, Kimmy, and her family,
(9) gotten an iPhone from Amazon to use with Free Mobile (**not free**) while I'm in France,
(10) set up a Charles Schwab account so I can use international ATM's fo free
Kimmy and I at the Red's game; thanks Mrs. Streetz for insisting on a picture!
Faith GLOWING at her bridal shower last weekend.
Moe is a lifelong friend I said goodbye to last week. Her advice from when she studied abroad: Say yes to everything!!
Collin and I with our awards after the Whitestar races a few weeks back. I'll miss him and the rest of my CBA friends!
My coworkers at Habitat were so thoughtful to celebrate my last day.
(11) Oh, I've also planned out exactly how I'll spend every day between now and August 27th...
Plans to finish out the summer:
1. Guard and manage pools for Dayton Pool Management for a couple more days. This makes five summers of lifeguarding and managing pools for DPM; I love the opportunity to get out there in the sunshine, and see a few of my favorite patrons while making a little extra travel money! 
2. Head up to Bowling Green next week  to take care business, and spend one last week with my best friends! Monday I have a meeting at Habitat where I'll introduce the staff to Kelsey (best friend/ college roommate/ pseudo-mom), so she can help them on projects throughout the year! Tuesday an old friend, Jennifer, is taking a pit stop for lunch in Bowling Green as she road trips from Detroit to St. Louis, and in the afternoon I have an interview with Owens Corning for a supply chain internship for summer 2017 (**fingers crossed**). Then Thursday and Friday I'll be working as a College of Business Student Ambassador for opening weekend activities!
I won't get a fun oversized name sign this year (Peer Leaders only), but I'm still excited for Opening Weekend activities as a Student Ambassador!
3. Then I'm up to North Lake in Michigan for the weekend to celebrate my grandma's birthday. It'll be a crazy week after that! Monday and Tuesday I'll be home to manage Moraine Country Club pool for two days. Then, I'll be back up to the lake to spend a couple days up there with my sister since she can't join us over the weekend.    
There's no place I'd rather spend my last weekend in the States!
4. Friday I'll come back home and pack up my life. Saturday I'll finish packing and tie up loose ends, and then it's off to CVG for an evening flight to Paris!
My checklist of to-do's still includes:
  1. Pack **still cringes**
  2. Set up international cell phone, bank account, etc.
  3. Plan where I'll stay when I arrive 8/28 through when I can move into my apartment 9/01
  4. Hang out with my parents (and everyone else I love) a lot because they're (all) great
  5. Grab last minute necessities like outlet converters
  6. Print off copies of documents and plane/train reservations
  7. Call banks and credit card companies to let everyone know I'll be traveling August - May 

Since my last post, I have successfully booked two airbnb reservations for 8/28 through 9/01 in Strasbourg. Two? Well, yes, that's what happens when the first host cancels your reservation because "there is a problem." I'm fairly confident Francisca and I will have a good experience with the host we ended up booking with because he has 100+ great reviews, so hopefully all the complications are just coming at us early. It's good to know that worst case scenario we can stay in a hostel.

I'm taking a high speed train from Paris to Strasbourg when I fly in. From the train station in Strasbourg, the BDI (student group I mentioned in my last post) will pick me up and take me to my airbnb. Shortly after I arrive, Francisca should be arriving, also. She and I talk over Facebook messenger and Snapchat, but I think we're both anxious/excited to actually meet each other and begin living together in Strasbourg! August 29th is the day our orientation begins, and our classes begin September 5th.

 Love, Julie "Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home"-Tyler Knott Gregson