Pete Robbins ’12 – This past weekend I went to Strasbourg with four friends. It is a city on the Rhine, bordering France and Germany, and the biggest city in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, which has been a contested region between France and Germany for centuries, and most recently during the Second World War. It is therefore a unique place, with a dialect (a distinct language, rather) called Alsacian. It is also the seat of the European parliament.
Strasbourg is known for its imposing cathedral for which construction began in the 13th century. While standing in the nave, all I could think was that when I visited Abraham Lincoln’s log cabin birthplace in Kentucky, they celebrated that tiny, still standing, “ancient” 19th century building. Notre-Dame de Strasbourg has been, by far, the tallest building in Strasbourg for centuries. And cathedrals as big or bigger than it are all over France.
I guess my point is that I am amazed by this country, and very happy to be here. I am staying in Paris in a single apartment in the 14th arrondissement. My program is called IES Abroad, and every morning I walk about 20 minutes to school – I can take the Metro if it is raining but it’s such a short distance that it’s a waste of time. To write about the appeal of Paris would be redundant, so I won’t do it. I assure you, it is appealing.
Back to Strasbourg (after all, traveling is one of the best parts of study abroad) – we visited the Modern Art Museum which boasts two Picassos, a room full of Kandinskys and a Gauguin. We also went to the international museum for illustration, named after the Alsacian illustrator Tomi Ungerer.
Other trips I have loosely planned include a trip to Belgium in March, and I will surely go to Spain and Switzerland while I’m here to visit some friends. My program offers trips to places within a reasonable distance from Paris, including Giverny (Monet’s home), Reims (where the French kings were crowned) and the Normandy beaches.
To making new friends, eating great food, becoming a pedestrian and waiting to climb the Eiffel Tower until it gets warmer. Cheers!