Postcard from Abroad: French adventures in academics, work and play

Bonjour from the land of baguettes, cheese, wine, fashion, and not to mention, romance. I’ve been studying abroad in Strasbourg, France for about a month now. Located on the French-German border, Strasbourg is one of those big cities that has a small town feel.

The city is known for its locally- brewed beer, Kronenburg, housing the Council of Europe, and its unique World War II history- it was temporarily part of Germany.

There is always something to do in Strasbourg. I’ve been to the local hockey team’s games, l’Etoile Noire, climbed the gorgeous Cathedral in the middle of the city, walked through a randomly placed zoo, wandered across the border to Germany, watched a French play, observed an anti-gay marriage protest, and wine tasted, just to name a few activities.

The food here is amazing. The local delicacy consists of different tarts, especially tarte flambée which I’ve been lucky enough to try twice now. However, my guilty pleasure restaurant is this kebab place called Milas. I call it my heaven or my happy place because you can get these delicious kebabs, fries and a drink only for 5, 50 euros- that’s pretty cheap for a weekend dinner!

I also live with a delightful host family. I have a host mom, dad, grandmother, and even a dog. Their apartment is placed in a fantastic location – right across the street from the Council of Europe and the famous Parc l’Orangerie as well as only a 10 minute walk from school. They are very nice and fun to talk to. We often discuss current events such as the Algerian hostage crisis, the French intervention in Mali and the gun law debates in the States.

I enjoy learning about their perspective on all of these topics. My host mom is also an amazing cook, so that’s a plus! I feel as if I have really lucked out with this family.

Besides wandering around Strasbourg exploring new places, I also have been taking classes at the Syracuse University’s location here in Strasbourg. Most of my courses are in the political science arena. What I like about them is that they are taught by experts, diplomats or established representatives from either the Council of Europe or the European Union.

I am also fortunate enough to have an internship this semester with the Pompidou Group in the Council of Europe that focuses on illicit substances and anti-drug trafficking laws. So far, I’ve assisted with their harms reduction initiative.

On a weekly basis, I research, edit papers and contribute ideas to different harms reduction strategies aimed at getting their 47 member states to all agree on the same policies. I’m also going to Paris in a few weeks to help out with the Bureau of Permanent Correspondents biannual meeting. I will be tasked with taking notes and revising policy paper during the meeting as well as preparing a report of the meeting.

I am very excited to have this opportunity. Interning with the Pompidou Group has been very enlightening as well as fun – everyone is very nice and I enjoy working there.

While I often miss queso, Dos Equis, warm weather and sunshine – it snows every day – and of course, all of my friends back at Trinity, I am excited to call Strasbourg my new home. I encourage everyone to study abroad at least once – it’s an unexplainable, once in a lifetime experience.

Au revoir for now!

Kelly Cunningham is a junior majoring in political science.