Monday, December 5, 2016


>>> Hello December <<<
 I hate you.                                 

Whoa, Jules, calm down. Why do you hate December?

I hate this December because Strasbourg has the best Christmas Market in the world. 

Just kidding, Strasbourg's Christmas Market was only rated #1 in the world last year... it's not necessarily still the best. No really, it's amazing, and it's definitely not the reason I'm dreading this December.
Oh, and what are the chances that Portugal is the featured country?
Francisca's family's jams are even being sold here... Literally what are the odds?
Low quality photo of some high quality girlfriends with a low quality Santa Claus in front of the cathedral.

Oh, and there's enough "vin chaud" to go around, too.


I hate this December because it's taking a family away from me. My Strasbourg family, which has become the most loving & constant family in my life over the past semester. 

This is a different kind of separation, too... We're cherishing the moments and sugarcoating the sadness with "See you later" instead of "Goodbye", but we all know we'll never get this experience back. Even when we do meet up in the future it will be groups of two or four; it likely won't ever be our whole family again. Papa will be missing... or we'll only catch up with one of the 'mean twins'... or our lives just won't line up in the way they have for so long. We know how to say goodbye to our family and friends back home, but now we're leaving people and places we'll never return to.

I'm in a unique position because I'm not leaving after this semester. This time I'm the one being left. I get to keep Strasbourg, but it won't be the same Strasbourg I've fallen in love with... without my Portuguese here... without my dear Brazilian. Of my closest friends, a handful are staying next semester. While I'm extremely thankful for each of these individuals staying, I know we'll feel the absence of the rest of our friends extremely profoundly. 
Each of you contributed to Strasbourg becoming a home in that first week before Kika & I even moved in to 415 La Marne,
and next semester will not be the same without you.

As much as I'm looking forward to next semester and the rest of my time here in Strasbourg, I'm completely realistic that I'll have hard times too missing these precious people. I have a number of best friends from BGSU studying abroad in Europe next semester, and I'll be keeping my BEM classmates and friends as well as my soccer team. This is a lot to look forward to and I really am optimistic that the spring will be just as amazing as the fall, but we have different friendships than the people I met on my first day in Europe. I have a different level of comfort and trust vested in Kika, Tomas, and my other literal Day One friends... ANYWAY...
let's focus on the fun stuff

We kicked off December with a Christmas party

and it was perfect. really, it was perfect.

Francisca and I hosted at La Marne per usual. A one bedroom apartment with a tiny kitchenette is a surprisingly great entertainment opportunity for a group of fifteen or so when your standards are low and you have zero options.
it's a good thing we like each other...
and don't mind sitting on the floor.
Once everyone arrived, we ordered 9 large Domino's pizzas. For 16 people. I worked at a pizza place for a couple years, but no one wanted my advice on how many pizzas to order... the three leftover pizzas stayed at my place so it's whatever. (they've already been eaten by the way, sorry fam.)

Then we all watched the October Trip video that Ana & Joana made to document our trip. This was super sappy and sentimental, and I think even the two friends here who hadn't gone on the trip with us completely understood why that was such a special moment for us to all preview the video together.

Here's the link to the video by the way:

(warning: it's 14+ minutes and can be only viewed on computers)
The moments captured are so genuine and so memorable, and Ana & Joana we can't thank you enough for the time you put in making this video (and I'm sorry for getting annoyed by the GoPro).
After watching fourteen minutes of some of our favorite friendship moments, we ate pizza and more or less messed around until we were ready to start our modified White Elephant gift exchange. We spent the next couple hours exchanging hilarious gifts that ranged from chocolate to toilet paper to piggy banks. There was a brief intermission in our White Elephant when our Dutch friend Floris explained Sinterklaas traditions to us, and gifted each of us the chocolate letter of our name as is common for him in Holland. Once we finished the gift exchange we continued the evening festivities, and some of us continued our evening at a favorite club in Strasbourg.
Mama Pic
the (significantly more accurate) not mama pic

Let's throw it back to the very beginning... I love each and every one of you for exactly who you are (and who you're not), and I'm glad you've been a part of one of the most influential times of my life.

It seems premature to be considering the end of this semester already, but with the exam period coming it makes sense to get the emotions out of the way so we can lock in to study mode. 

In order that I met you (to the best of my abilities),

The Firsts:


Nickname: Kika
Nationality: Portuguese
Best known for: wearing clothes from the kids' section
First vivid memory: When we were talking & getting to know each other over the summer before the semester started, and you asked me if I "had a crush on dinosaurs". I answered yes, but I was super worried you'd think I was a complete freak. I'm still glad we overcame that.
Second vivid memory: You arriving at our Airbnb and me awkwardly asking "Can I hug you?" because I was so excited to meet you after spending all summer anticipating being your roommate.
There's a lot more but I can't do this for you right now, sorry Honey.
Winner of Christmas tree hat, twix bars, and the only one to roll "give a toast".


Nickname: Too much
Nationality: Portuguese
Best known for: spilling (and proceeding to mop up his messes because he's one of the most considerate people I know)
First vivid memory: Meeting you and your parents, and knowing that you would greet me by kissing my face (because Kika warned me).
Second vivid memory: You speaking enough French to successfully order us a pizza by the cathedral on our first night when we dodged the group meal at the Asian buffet, and eating said pizza beside the cathedral with Kika.
Favorite moment: When it had been maybe two weeks since we'd seen each other at some point in early October because of travel and classes, and we both got super pumped to hang out one night.
Winner of "bathroom fishpond", chocolate Christmas tree, and Christmas beer.


Nationality: Belgian
Best known for: Unparalleled rate of consumption of baguettes
First vivid memory: Pointing to the Asian buffet and saying "Are you from EM? They're in there!"
Second vivid memory: Splitting a pitcher of overpriced caipirinhas with Tomas on the river... Then ditching you at Abstract because Kika was calling her mom.
Favorite Dutch phrases that don't translate properly: The bucket is full & the monkey comes out of the sleeve
Winner of toilet paper, red meat, and two beers.

The basically firsts:


Nickname: Jo
Nationality: Portuguese
Best known for: posing advice and general Instagram photo ideas
First vivid memory: You trying to help me understand the nutrition facts on a salad on the way to Orangerie the first day of orientation activities.
Second vivid memory: Hearing you break out into song, and knowing we would end up being close friends.
Favorite memory: Luxembourg Airbnb when the neighbor knocked at the door....
Winner of a snowglobe.


Nationality: Portuguese
Best known for: Taking an insane number of photos, and cooking insanely yummy foods
First vivid memory: You and Kika wearing the same shirt. When I mentioned it to Kika she was like, "Yeah, I know. That's how we met. She's Portuguese."
Second vivid memory: Trying to figure out how to say your last name and you just saying "Brandão" and "João" like twelve times while I continued tripping over the "ão" sound.
Favorite quality of yours: How you unashamedly love fashion, food, and the people in your life.
Winner of penguin hat and chocolate Christmas tree.


Nickname: Papa
Nationality: Italian
Best known for: Dancing with a gin tonic in hand and successfully biking home afterward
First vivid memory: Walking to Orangerie that first day and thinking "He sounds exactly like I would've expected my Italian friend to sound."
Second vivid memory: When you made us all the best spaghetti of our lives the night we moved into La Marne.
Favorite common phrase: "Ciaooo, chicaaa"
Winner of a water bottle and "magnetic bottle cap darts"


Nationality: American
Best known for: Knowing a weird amount about basically everything & counting his trips to Au Brasseur (I think he's at 31 now?)
First vivid memory: Meeting between orientation sessions and freaking out because you're from Perrysburg and you know Springboro friends I grew up with. 
Second vivid memory: Drinking on campus and being grilled by our friends about American college life.
Favorite moments: Meeting Mr. James in London at the Indian restaurant and talking to him for about a half hour & watching the Michigan/OSU football game together with our friends.
Winner of a Japanese workbook and maybe a beer(?)


Nickname: Flower
Nationality: Dutch
Best known for: Speaking every relevant European language we've needed except French.
First vivid memory: Talking to you at Baggersee about how you were about to give a speech via Skype to your whole family at a formal dinner because your sister was starting her first career-job.
Second vivid memory: You telling me how much you love the idea of American suburban life, and joking about how you need a Green Card.
Favorite tradition: Exchanging hot wine everywhere we go
Winner of giant piggy bank and (creepy) handmade Christmas ornaments.


Nickname: Benji
Nationality: Spanish / English
Best known for: Managing to keep his pet chihuahua alive & well even here on exchange
First vivid memory: You helping me decide not to run into a ditch to help the random drunk French girl at that engineering party one of those first nights. 
Second vivid memory: You. At Baggersee. Telling me you would never be good friends with a girl with no ulterior motives. (And me promptly swimming back to the beach & thinking you were a jerk)
Fun fact: You're actually a sweetheart even though you try to pretend you're not.
Winner of huge Strasbourg cookie.

The rest of the fam (all of whom I also met within 8 days here):


Nickname: Rodri
Nationality: Spanish
Best known for: Taking "mama pictures" in every city we visit
First vivid memory: Dancing (terribly) as you translated all of the Spanish songs & I rambled on even though you had no clue what I was saying 
Second vivid memory: You stealing my phone to meet Kels on Facetime outside of La Salamandre 
Favorite consistent English pronunciation failure: city center
Winner of a giant calculator and a bottle of wine.


Nationality: Spanish
Best known for: Being Real Madrid's biggest/most enthusiastic fan
First vivid memory: Meeting you at Hanne's birthday & being super confused because you aren't a student from EM
Second vivid memory: Impressing you in the La Marne staircase minutes before you cleaned my passport. (thanks again, by the way)
Favorite moment: When Rodri finally told me that you had no clue what I was saying most of the time... In late October. Now I know you understand me because you give head nods to my good jokes.
Winner of an assortment of socks (stolen straight from Paolo).


Nickname: Princess (linda!)
Nationality: Brazilian
Best known for: Sharing her closet and her extra mattress, but not her wine.
First vivid memory: You approaching us at Baggersee and more or less telling me that you were my new best friend, and me being like "Why does this beautiful Brazilian girl want to be so nice to me?"
Second vivid memory: Appreciating when you were screaming "English please!" while we all juggled the volleyball 
Favorite quality: I swear you're the most genuinely caring human being I've met here. 
Winner of a unicorn on a stick.


Nickname: Chinchur
Nationality: Brazilian
Best known for: Finding the perfect souvenirs in every city
First vivid memory: Finding the restroom at MUI together like 4 times a night that first week.
Second vivid memory: Booking SUAPS sports in Fraga's room with you and everyone else in the La Marne fam in our pajamas before I even felt like I knew you guys.
Favorite bonding moment: Us walking home from that bar in Krakow with Julia, Natalia, and Clara 
Winner of small piggy bank.


Nickname: Nati (not to be confused with American college students' Natty)
Nationality: Colombian
Best known for: fast-paced shopping, walking, and picture taking & buying durable jeans
First vivid memory: Playing volleyball with you, and being legitimately confused what nationality you were because people kept joking you weren't Colombian because you're too pale.
Second vivid memory: You booking the trip to Ljubljana within 24 hours of the bus departure time.

Favorite class: When you walked into Cases in Int'l Marketing 45 minutes late holding a chair, and the whole class laughed at you for two minutes until the professor finally started teaching again.
Natalia (and her friend Cami who was visiting) won a second bathroom fishpond.

Thank you for sharing these moments with me, and thanks for loving me for exactly who I am (at my best & my very worst)

The night Aaron told us his friends would be proud that he had four girls to himself.
The first day at Lake Baggersee when I met a handful of forever friends.
The night of the stoplight party (where we all ignored the theme)... one of the many nights at MUI.
First day trip when I went to Colmar with the Portuguese.
Day trip #2 to Freiburg
The original "mama pic" for Rodrigo's momma.

Lake Bled, Slovenia on my first weekend trip
When London poured and poured on Troy and me.
John Lennon wall in Prague on the first day of October Trip.
Krakow, Poland
Vienna, Austria
Prague, Czech Republic
Kafka Museum with Kika & Benji when the creepy old lady locked us inside.
Prague (St. Charles Bridge in the background)
Salzburg, Austria on our last day of October Trip.
Francisca and I at the Opera House in Paris.
typical 415 La Marne moment

All of the casual La Marne nights
One of the many nights captured by the bar photographer at Jimmy's

To the friends in this post who are leaving at the semester, 

You know I don't really do emotions, but you also know how much I really care about each and every one of you. Let's enjoy these last week(s) together, and leave with the most grateful hearts for the times we've shared. If it works for us to meet up next semester, you know I love traveling and you know the door to 415 will always be open to you. If it doesn't work out, know I'm always a Whatsapp call or a Facebook sticker away, and in a couple years' time we'll all be earning salaries so plane tickets can be a thing.

To the friends in this post who are staying for the year,

Thanks for being a part of it from the beginning; I can't wait to see what adventures the rest of our year together will hold. My money is on more Au Brasseur, more weekend trips, and more busted La Marne parties.

With the exception of a post about going to Portugal for Christmas with Francisca's family, I'll spare you from any further nostalgia after this point in time.

Sidenote: Thanks to Kika's amazing family for lunch at La Corde à Linge while they were visiting Strasbourg, and the most sincere thank you for the invitation to spend Christmas in Portugal!

Happy exam season to all & to all a good night! (and a special shoutout to all of my friends who are procrastinating their studies by reading this post)

Love, Jules

"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home." -Tyler Knott Gregson

Winner of Kika's go-to beer and a toothbrush. Go team.

1 comment:

  1. Yes muraille américain! <3
    So sweet. I miss you though!