The GoGlobal Blog

That Time I Accidentally Went to France

That Time I Accidentally Went to France

What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been. Just when I felt like I was really getting adjusted to life in Ireland, my big travel plans began. In the last two weeks, I have been to 7 different cities, not including my home base in Cork. I don’t know exactly where to begin, but I suppose I should start with the trip that inspired this title, where I accidentally entered France instead of Switzerland.

My friends and I were heading to Basel, a city right on the French-Swiss border. Little did we know that the airport was actually on the French side of the border. We landed and I instantly got a text from my phone provider telling me “Welcome to France!” and I laughed because clearly a naive American girl would know better than an established company based in Europe, and I was definitely not in France. So we go through passport control and customs, unbeknownst to us that there were two different lines that led to two different doors, and we went out the wrong one. The one with the French flag on it. Not my brightest moment, but again, I really thought that the entire airport was in Switzerland. And I was also running on less than two hours of sleep.

We’re walking around and we pass a stand that is selling water bottles for 2 euros. Wait, euros? I could have sworn Switzerland only used Francs… But I continued on, not putting two and two together. We kept searching for this bus station that was apparently right outside the airport door, but there was absolutely nothing to be seen. After wandering around for a while, we head back into the airport to find an information desk, where a woman told us we were on the wrong side of the border and we needed to go back into customs and walk out of the Swiss doors. It wasn’t a big deal; it took less than 2 minutes to get into the country we wanted to get into, but the whole situation was hilarious. But then I thought about it more, especially about how big of a deal that would have been had it been another country. I’ve noticed in Europe that borders exist, but they’re not like the ones we have back home. What if someone “accidentally” entered the United States?

I also have to acknowledge that this process was easy coming from me, a girl with a United States passport. When traveling the world, these things are like a golden ticket. In every place I have been to, customs have been a breeze because of the country I come from. In Australia, they put all of the Australians, New Zealanders, and Americans in one line, and every other nationality in another. Can you guess which line breezes through, and which line faces interrogations? In Europe, I see people being given a hard time, while all I ever get is a smile and a quick stamp in my passport. So although it’s a funny story, accidentally entering France has made me a lot more aware of how privileged I am.

After traveling from Basel to Interlaken, Geneva, London, Paris, Dublin, Limerick, and then back to Cork, I have been learning a lot about the process of traveling and how exhausting – yet totally worth it – it is. I’m surviving on little to no sleep and I’m learning to admit that although I want to see and do it all, I just can’t (at least not this semester). But I will continue to try my hardest. For the next few weeks, I’ll be laying low in Cork, trying to pick up where I left off on all of my essays with approaching deadlines. This semester seems to be slipping through my fingers…

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