After traveling Italy with my mom, I switched gears and made the move to southern France to see my friend Evelyn, who is working as a teaching assistant in Montpellier.
I think traveling is one of the most important and valuable things people can do with their time, but within the grander category of travel, I think that traveling in different situations is just as important. Traveling with your family is one thing, traveling on your own is another, and then traveling with friends is a completely different experience on its own. It’s usually not as glamorous to travel with a friend as it is with family, but there’s much more freedom in terms of meeting new people and experiencing weirder things.
My first stop was Montpellier, a city in the south of France, home to some of the best universities in the country. It’s a quieter town, a drive away from the beach and with a fun but quaint bar scene. It was an incredibly diverse, international, young community. I envy Evelyn because she has had the chance to befriend people who are truly passionate about learning the French language and who are open to meeting new people. So it was fun for me to immerse myself, even for a short time, in a much more vibrant, open environment, since in New York, I see a lot of the same people (no offense).
Side note: from the first night to the last, we drank every.single.night. Evelyn is a creature in that can drink and drink and drink every single day and remain fully functional the next day. I, on the other hand, enjoy consuming large amounts of alcohol, but the next day, I just need a break. So that was fun.
We then took a train to Marseille, just southeast of Montpellier, the second largest city in France which stretches across the Mediterranean coast with a beautiful port. Vieux Port There were the most beautiful shades of blue and turquoise everywhere Ferris wheel !! Because we are infants !!
We stayed at one of my favorite hostels I had ever been to. It was called Hello Marseille (hence the title of this post), a youth hostel run by maybe some of the most attractive men I’ve ever met in my entire life. I actually believe I met the love of my life there. He probably has zero memory of me, but I don’t really care. I would still move to Marseille in a heartbeat.
I love youth hostels because it’s all about meeting new people. I recently have become very jaded with all the small talk that comes with living in the real world. So many of the interactions with people have felt so superficial; I’ve never talked about weather so much in my entire life. But with the people we met in the hostel – a couple from Atlanta that is living in and traveling Europe, a random boy from Kansas studying in Northern France, and the Welsh love of my life who works at the hostel – it felt real and meaningful. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had made a connection with these people beyond talking about the snow or talking about upcoming weekend plans.
We ended up going out together, which resulted in some of the most genuine fun I’ve had in a long time, but we somehow managed to wake up early the next morning and go on a hike at the Calanques, an extraordinaryl landscape of cliffs with views of the sea and beautiful islands along the coastline. After our hike, Evelyn and I just wandered around from cafe to cafe, drinking an assortment of beverages, just sitting, soaking in the sun. There were moments of comfortable silence as I got more and more sunburnt and Evelyn contemplated her life there.
Life does not have to be mundane. There are so many different experiences to be had and opportunities to come across as long as you remain patient and proactive. While college was a unifying force, the real world places us in different places, making some friendships more distant and others richer.
It was really hard to come back to New York this time around. Like where is everybody sprinting to? It can sometimes feel incredibly suffocating and routine, but with that said, home is home and it was nice to be back, but I’ll hopefully find myself on another adventure soon 🙂