I am studying abroad here with a group of 12 other students from my home school, and even though it has only been a couple of months, we are already like a family; I know this trip would not be even half as amazing without them. A few weeks ago, some of the girls and I decided to spend the day in downtown, which really gave us a chance to fully experience the daily life of Strasbourg, as well as to bond and get to know each other a little better.
The day started off pretty normal, until we got off a tram to head to our destination; there was some sort of protest going on, and it was nothing like the ones in downtown Atlanta. There were hundreds of people, young and old, some women but mostly men, blowing horns and chanting and yelling in French as they walked along and filled up the streets, wearing neon colors and holding up signs which I later found out were for animal hunting rights. This was the first time I’d ever been so close to such a large protest, and it was definitely an experience I will never forget.
A few hours later, after eating lunch and doing a bit of shopping, I saw my very first street music performance, in the courtyard of the main tourist area in downtown Strasbourg. They were students, about 6 or 7 of them just playing music and raising money, and we joined a large crowd that had gathered around the students and watched. As they played their music together and smiled at the crowd and each other, they seemed to forget all the problems around them, it seemed to spread out into everyone else, and I remember feeling truly happy. I am a music minor and am very passionate about music, and it always touches me to see other younger students so passionate about music as well. I am a strong ambassador of spreading music knowledge and keeping the musical arts in schools, and after enjoying their wonderful performance and youthful energy, I decided to donate a bit of money myself.
After all of this, the day was still not over; on our way back, we saw yet another protest. This one took place on a stage on the other side of the same courtyard in which we saw the students playing music; it was much quieter and smaller than the protest we had seen earlier, but by the look on the people’s faces, I immediately knew it was just as important, at least for them. When we went a little closer to the stage, I realized it was a protest in light of the current issues in Egypt, and something caught my eye that I will never forget. There in the center of the stage, was a little girl no older than 7 years, holding up a sign and looking as passionate about what she was protesting about as the other older adults on the stage. Although I realize she may not have fully understood everything about the ongoings in Egypt, the look in her eyes and the intensity with which she was protesting put me in awe to see someone so young standing up for what she believed in; it was truly inspiring for me.
As we walked along after the protest, taking pictures of the beautiful scenery and sunset and getting ready to head back home, I reflected on all that had happened, and how I had, albeit just a little bit, grown and changed from it. I will remember this as one of the first days since being here we actually went out on our own and became immersed into French culture, like I had wanted to do since before even arriving in Strasbourg, as one of the first days I felt confident and independent rather than homesick, and as one of the most memorable days of my trip so far. I hope to take something from this experience, and I hope to have many more days like this during my semester studying abroad!