The first week of my study abroad in Lyon is over, and it's time to do some reflecting. Not the type where you look into the mirror sideways to see if the several-course meals have added any weight, no, it's the time to remember what happened during the past week and describe it for people on the internet. Admittedly, it's probably a good idea to do both.
So, here's a summary of this week, on the topics of food, sightseeing, and spending. I probably won't talk much about the actual study part of study abroad, because it makes up only a part of the experience and much of it is similar to classes at home.
Food is easily my favorite thing about life, so it should come as no surprise that I went to Lyon. Yes, I could have gone to any place in the world and probably would have enjoyed the food there, but why not go to the literal capital of gastronomy in France? (On another note, every city here is the capital of something; Thiers is the capital of knives, and Paris is the capital of France.)
After our first day of class, everybody in the study abroad program, including coordinators and professors, went to Brasserie Midi Minuit, where I ate chicken and mashed potatoes. Yes, we have those in the U.S., but not like this:
As for dessert, nothing less than a chocolate fondant (unfortunately, I was too distracted by eating it to take a picture).
For lunch between classes, a Champagnethon (tuna on baguette with tomato, mozzarella, and egg) sufficed, but even better was the Buffalo pizza, a name slightly out of place in a Pizzeria, but still quite Italian in taste. It featured mozzarella on top of tomato slices, a layer of more mozzarella covering the tomato sauce below, and a drizzle of olive oil to top it off. All in all, quite delicious:
And last, but most definitely not least, some humble pastries. After walking around for much of the day, standing for over 3 hours taking turns folding, thwacking, and rolling dough, butter, and apples, respectively, was wearing, but it was well worth it:
On the top left, pain au chocolat, with three chocolate sticks in each. On the top right, some simple butter croissants. I unfortunately can't remember the name of the pastries on the bottom, but they were a delicious combination of apples rolled into a rose shape on top of some hidden apricot jam, tied together with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.
There's plenty to see in the third largest city in France, and there's more than enough history to take in, from the early Romans to World War Two and beyond. While I'm sure we'll get tired of it eventually, the old city of Vieux Lyon is a charming, tightly packed collection of buildings from centuries ago, which now house apartments, bakeries, restaurants, and more. Winding through the buildings, you might even find some traboules, small walking passageways that provide access to areas inaccessible from the street and connect streets together. And if you're feeling adventurous like us and have a metro ticket in hand, you can take the funicular line through a steep tunnel up the hill of Fourvière.
On top of the hill, there was a beautiful view of most of Lyon:
On Saturday, we went to the Parc de la Tête d'Or. Inside the park, among other things, there's a zoo, a greenhouse, and amazing flowers everywhere:
Did I mention great flowers?
I'm living with a host family during my stay who provide most meals during the week, so I don't have to worry too much about finding food to eat. As such, most of my purchases are either lunch or small non-food items. The following is a list of most of the items I bought:
- 4.80€ for a champagnethon (previously mentioned, see food section) sandwich on Monday
- 5€ for a galette kebab (kebab meat in a wrap, like a burrito, topped with tartar sauce) for lunch Tuesday
- 2.90€ for an éclair au chocolat (chocolate eclair) after Lunch Tuesday
- 2.95€ for a cup of mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse) as an afternoon snack Tuesday
- 11.50€ for a full (they don't really do slices) Buffalo pizza (previously mentioned) and 1.50€ for peach sirop a l'eau (syrup water, similar to an Italian soda) on Wednesday
- Lunch on Thursday was a pastry, paid for by one of my classmates in order to meet the limit for credit card payment (thanks!)
- I also got a ticket for the Avengers: Endgame premiere (which is three days earlier than the U.S.!) for 11.40€ with a student discount
- 3€ for a sirop a l'eau on Friday (raspberry flavor)
- 16.80€ for an okay burger with no ketchup (since it would have cost extra) and 3.70€ for a peach sirop a l'eau at an extremely overpriced touristy café on Saturday
- 3.90€ for coupe-ongles (nail clippers)
In total, I spent a whopping 67.45€ this week. 5.85€ of that was for chocolate, which obviously doesn't count, so for all intents and purposes, the total amount I spent is 61.60€.
One thing that I find fantastic about the French is their tendency to be early adopters, especially in the financial sector, which is painfully slow in the United States. Nearly everywhere I went, contactless (or sans contact) phone payments were fully supported, and chip and pin has been supported practically everywhere for years. Except for paying friends with cash (since it's apparently not possible/rude to split a bill here), and the Avengers: Endgame ticket, almost every single payment has been just with my phone.
I'm only a week in, with nine more to go, but I'm optimistic I'll be able to improve my French language fluency, visit many new places, learn more about my friends, and just have a great time (all while keeping my grades up before graduation, of course). See you next week!