Thank you for greeting me every morning with a fresh baguette and jam.
Thank you for letting me dance the night away with people I love to disappointing techno music.
Thank you for the conversations I had at the dinner table with my host family.
Thank you for the accordion music that reached my ears in the afternoons.
Thank you for the espresso that saved my long days.
Thank you for the charm of your streets,
And the kindness of your people.
Thank you for bringing me closer to the culture and language of your country.
Thank you for teaching me that mistakes are inevitable.
Thank you for being my home.
Sorry for sometimes cursing the cold,
And for nearly toppling over pedestrians in the street with my bike,
But from that I have learned,
To not take myself as seriously,
And that no matter where you go,
You will always be you.
Even if you’re a clumsy, shy girl like me.
Living the “European life” will not change that.
You have to accept who you are first
Before thinking your location will change your life.
That girl with the bright red lipstick
And the blue beret
Is just like you or me.
She doesn’t have a wonderful life like you think,
She is just perhaps thinking that you’re all she’s ever wanted to be.
Studying Abroad: A Reflection
Why the title you ask? Well, life is like a pain au chocolat…or perhaps pain au chocolats are life (I love them so much I could live on them for the rest of my life). We all go through struggles that really cause us pain in our life, but there is often chocolate hiding in the middle between all those buttery and slippery layers. That’s what my study abroad experience has been like.
The weeks have gone by like an EKG- up, then down, then up, up, up, down, and up again. One day I’d visit a new city, the next day I would be frustrated with myself for messing up a simple sentence in French. Then I realize- it all went by too quickly.
You know when you’re eating something, and you finish it without even realizing it? Well, I’m nearly done with my pain au chocolat.
Sometimes I feel like I never even left. I don’t think I’ve fully realized that I’m studying abroad. I was expecting this big awakening moment where I would find out everything I always wanted, but I adapted so gradually that I didn’t have these realizations.
Sometimes I try to stop, take a deep breath, and let it all sink in, but it never really works. Maybe I’m just so overwhelmed by how amazing it is. Or maybe I nonchalantly call this my home. The days after I leave, however, I know will be the most nostalgic of my life. Remembering the beauty of the city…my trouble with pronunciation….my time filling bags with cookies at my internship…and just all the wonderful places I visited and the amazing people I met.
Alas, to finish up this blog and leave you with a sense of anticipation, how can I not talk about Christmas in the Christmas Capital of Europe? My friend, Cecelia, who is currently studying abroad in Barcelona visited me in Strasbourg the weekend of the 23rd of November.
In the evening, we went to the Christmas market. Just imagine: lights everywhere, mulled wine, carolers, the buzz of children. It was definitely a great start to the holidays. Artisans sell all sorts of products there from Christmas ornaments to leather wallets. As you walk through the streets, you feel like you’re walking through a children’s storybook. One thing that’s missing is snow, but I hope it comes down before I leave![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Pain Au Chocolat
These are truly a pain to make if you decide to make the dough from scratch…but maybe you’d have the guts to give it a try! No pain, no gain, right? Sorry, I’ll stop with the puns now.
4 cups flour (500 g)
½ cup water (120 mL)
½ cup milk (120 mL)
¼ cup sugar (50 g)
2 teaspoons salt
1 packet instant dry yeast
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch (1 cm) thick slices (285 g)
1 egg, beaten
2 bars sweetened chocolate bar
Recipe borrowed from Bakingmad.com
Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and water in a mixing bowl to form a firm dough. Knead for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in an electric mixer bowl using a dough hook. Remove the butter from the fridge and warm very slightly so that it can be flattened out into a rough rectangle about 1-2cm thick. Roll out the dough into a rectangle roughly three times the size of the butter. Place the butter on top of the dough, making sure it only covers two-thirds of it. Fold the third of the dough that’s not covered by the butter over the butter-covered dough. You will be left with a third of the butter-covered dough exposed. Fold that back onto the dough, layering the dough and the butter. Roll the butter and dough layers with a rolling pin to press them down. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Take the dough butter mix out of the fridge, place the short end towards you and roll out the dough into a rectangular shape, approximately 15mm thick. Repeat the folding process, cover with cling-film and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Repeat the folding and chilling process two more times so that you have rolled and folded 4 times. Wrap loosely in cling film and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Roll out the chilled dough to a large rectangle the thickness of a pound coin.
Cut the dough into 12 x 12cm squares. Using a sharp knife, cut the chocolate into 12 lengths. Arrange a row of chocolate along one edge of each piece of dough and roll the dough over forming a sausage. Place the pain au chocolat on a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake the pain au chocolat for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden. Serve warm.
My friends and I visited a small village near Fontainebleau in France called Veneux-Les-Sablons during our week-long break in November. There we found a deal to buy 16 pain au chocolats for 3 euros. Talk about a deal, right? They were consumed in the first day, no question. This photo (above) kind of reminds me of a 90’s R&B Album Cover, “The Pain Au Chocolats.”
Thank you for joining me on this journey! If you’re thinking of studying abroad, and have any hesitation at all, let me just say…DO IT! We all have a slight fear of going to new places, but what would life be without taking new chances?
About the Author – Liuba Miranosava, fall 2018 Strasbourg, France Storyteller & Elizabethtown College student
My name is Liuba and I am a Junior Accounting Major at Elizabethtown College. After graduation, I intend to get my CPA license and work at a public accounting firm. I chose to do the program in Strasbourg because it was the only program in France affiliated with my college where I could live with a host family and attend a French university rather than an American host institution. Strasbourg is also a cross between two cultures: French and German, so it’s almost like studying abroad in two countries at once!