Chamonix Free

Julia A. is currently a senior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Francis W. Parker School in Illinois.

“Can I go paragliding?'' probably wasn't the best text message to send my mother the very first day I arrived in Chamonix. The French school system has two weeks of vacation every six weeks, so at SYA the first week we spend traveling with the school and the second week is free for Independent Travel. 

Every aspect of our trip was incredible. The color contrast of the bright red mountain trolley against the soft snow painted mountains; the floor to ceiling window during the trolley ride that framed the crevice between the towering mountains in which the four towns we visited are situated; the surprisingly warm touch of the alpine air once the sliding doors permitted our entrance to the Chamonix station. Saturday was shiny and blue, and the skies were filled with adrenaline junkies who jumped off the highest peaks to experience flight for fifteen unforgettable minutes. I stood under the five or so parachutes, trying to convince myself to not rush to the nearest station and sign up. At that moment I knew that my week would be full of laughs that made my abs hurt, early mountain mornings, the best macaroons, spontaneous adventures, and tons of skiing. 

My question of whether I could go paragliding warranted an initial response of “are you nuts” by my mother. But after a quick exchange of my reasoning for why I should, she responded with a phrase that continues to be triggered as I reflect on my time at SYA. All she suggested was to leave some experiences to look forward to in life. 

That’s when it really hit me just how many unique and timeless experiences I have been able to cram into my six months here and how I've made friends who I am certain I will have forever. As the end of February nears and the three month marker hunts me down, my stomach churns. It’s not the thought of starting the college chapter of my life, it’s not the fear of the unknown. It’s not being an adult or facing the hard yet inevitable goodbyes. It’s the fact that I’ve never been happier for such a long period of my life. It’s been six months straight of contentment, pride, inexplicable joy and disbelief that this life, my life, is real. It’s hard to convince myself that I’m not peaking when I’m living on a high everyday.

Highlights of my trip:

  • Dining in the dark at Dans Le Noir?– an unforgettable experience of dining in the complete dark with 5 great friends. It was a wonderful experience that heightened our senses and our empathy for those with visual impairment. 

  • Walking along the Seine with friends and seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle.

  • Exploring the city with Tamzen and planning our futures.

  • Seeing the Thierry Mugler Couturissme and the Cartier expositions at Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

  • The trolley ride to Chamonix.

  • Our first powder day on Les Houches.

  • Skiing on four different mountains in four days. 

  • Trying the Croix de Savoie– an authentic Haute-Savoie specialty for gourmet breakfasts.

  • Spontaneous ice skating with friends.

  • Chamonix French escape room– our theme was a French olympic skier who stole and hid all the medals. We retrieved them all in 55 minutes! 

  • Racing with Michaela down the mountain.

  • Meeting a Chamonix cristallier and hearing about his adventures.

  • Navigating the Chamonix transit– we ended up carrying all of our ski gear on an uphill hike for fifteen minutes before realizing there was a bus that went straight from Chamonix to Le Tour.

  • Getting lost on the mountain with Kay and thinking we crossed over to Switzerland.

  • Overpriced hot chocolate.

  • Late laundromat talks.

And many more core memories…

  • Campus Reporters
  • SYA France
Ha Sido un Placer

In her final blog, Camus Reporter Meredith M. reflects on the letter she wrote to herself at the beginning of her year abroad.

The Revolving Door

In her final blog, Campus reporter Isabelle M. describes her year abroad in France as a revolving door.

Time Travel

Melinda D. reflects on her final weeks abroad and how she and her peers have changed at SYA Spain.

Arrivederci Roma

Campus reporter Camila F. writes about saying goodbye to Rome and shares the music that defined her year abroad.

Thank You

Julia A. expresses her gratitude to her host family, friends, and parents for her time at SYA France.