Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Travel


Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Travel
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Travel


Jason Palmer

Traveling outside of the United States is an adventure.  The hardest part of the trip for me, was getting my passport in a timely fashion.  Our flight out of Rochester was ordinary.  Passing through security was extremely quick, usual screening processes were employed.  An extended layover in Philadelphia and aboard our plane to Paris we were.

We arrived in Paris at 6:55am, local time, which is 1:55am EST.  In order to get through customs and into France, we simply had to tell the officer that we were a group traveling to France for a study abroad program, present our passports, and off we went.  It seemed rather easy to enter another country.  Charles De Galle airport was the size of a city.  It contained multiple terminals, and house many different airlines that I had never even heard of before.  It is of course an international, famous airport.

The second leg of travel consisted of us lugging our luggage, some more than others, namely me, across this terminal, which was immense to say the least.  We ended up at the metro terminal and boarded our train.  It was rush hour, and the train was packed.  We finished our journey at the Best Western hotel in Paris.  It was about 9am.  A little too early for check in yet.  We stowed our bags and headed to Delmas for a café and a croissant.  Welcome to day one in Paris.

The majority of our travels were on the metro.  We had to buy packs of 10 periodically.  It was more economical to purchase in bulk.  All of the stations were clean.  I was amazed at the cleanliness of the city.  The air smelled clean.  There were a lot less cars in Paris that I assumed there would be.  The majority of traveling was done with public transportation.  Cars are expensive and the insurance is outrageous I was told.  Besides, how easy it is to navigate around the city by metro, means you do not need a car.  We were provided maps for reference and were asked to plot our course for the day.  If we were able to figure out the metro system, the city was at our fingertips.

The cars were small, quite a bit smaller than our vehicles here, as Peugeot, Citroen and Renault were the big three manufacturers.  There weren’t any SUVs, or pickup trucks.  Small gas efficient models rained supreme.

I realized right away that I had packed way too much for this trip.  Wearing the same clothes for a few times was perfectly acceptable.  I wasn’t sure as to when or where I would be able to launder my clothes, so I packed for worse case scenario.  I could have stayed for a month with what I had packed.  I know for next time, to pack half as much.  I still had room for plenty of souvenirs for my family, I simply transferred wait to my carryon bag.

In regards to the people in France, everyone dressed up, all of the time.  Even for the school that we went to for a few days, all of the students were dressed nicely.  The usual apparel at night was blue jeans and black jackets or shirts.  If I looked at thirty people one evening, twenty-nine of them were almost dressed identically.

The biggest difference when travelling in France, was on the roads.  The speed limit posts were all in kilometers.  Also, the signs were not as easily read as the ones here in the states.  I had a difficult time figuring how which way we were headed.  I was not driving of course, but there were few and far between markers dictating which direction to travel between towns or cities.  The majority of the highways that we traveled by car, were in the countryside.  When you happened upon a town or city, there were many roundabouts to navigate to figure out which way to go.  On several occasions we did a few circles.  If the locals couldn’t figure them out, good luck for us.  The confusion can be attributed to traveling to different locations that were not familiar to them.  I can assume it would be the same for us.

Traveling back to the United States was relatively pain free.  On the plane to Philadelphia, we were instructed to fill in a form stating where we were coming from.  There were questions regarding what we were bringing back to the U.S.  Other than souvenirs, we had nothing to declare.  We landed in Philadelphia and had to go through customs.  There was a facial recognition scanner which took our picture after scanning our passports.  The only question that the customs agent asked me, was if I had brought any food back with me?  I told her that I had some cookies in my checked baggage, which was the truth.  She stamped my passport and away I went.  We had to retrieve our luggage and check it once more.  One more stop through the TSA security checkpoint, before heading to the gate for our flight to Rochester.

Heading out of the country seemed to be no big deal. French customs only required a brief check of my passport.  The customs in the U.S. is stricter than anywhere else.  Regardless, it really was not a hassle to go through.  We were very fortunate and seemed to hit customs in both countries at a really slow time, and basically walked right through.

Other than passing through security and customs, traveling to another country is not that much of a hassle.  Navigating through France, as I assume in other countries is similar to traveling in the U.S.  An understanding of subway systems or metro systems will enable you to get anywhere you would like to go in your country of destination.  I enjoyed traveling, was not put off in any way by the amount of security, and look forward to doing much more traveling with my family in the future.

Jason Palmer
LEAF Contributor