Hello everyone, this is the first post I’m writing from the USA since last August. What better way to share my reactions to arriving home in Michigan than a weekend coffee share.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I have an endless supply of Italian coffee and French teas, along with some biscuits from my final trip to Monoprix waiting to be enjoyed.
This weekend’s chat is all about my return to the United States. The journey home was quite rough. Traveling from Nice to Copenhagen to New York to Nashville to Detroit made for a tiring and uncomfortable 36 hours (29 if you take into consideration the time change). We (my friend Karol was with me) flew Norwegian for the first half of the trip, then Southwest from New York to Detroit. The travel itinerary was booked with a budget in mind. We wanted to get home as cheaply as possible. Norwegian is great for cheap flights since they are a fairly new airline. Overall the experience with the airline was enjoyable. I showed up at the airport with three completely stuffed suitcases I needed to check, along with two carry-on bags. With the fare we booked, one checked bag was included, and I had prepaid for a second checked bag online. I didn’t even come close to fitting everything in the two bags I planned on using. The two larger checked bags were even over the weight limit by a few kgs. The woman checking us in didn’t charge me for either of the overweight bags, and I only paid an additional 50€ for the third bag at the airport. This was by far the best experience I’ve ever had checking bags.
Once we made it onto the plane, both in Nice and in Copenhagen, the staff was very nice and helpful. My only complaint about Norwegian is the food. The meal was not enjoyable at all, and despite the fact that I ordered a vegetarian meal online in advance when booking the tickets, I was denied a vegetarian meal on board. Thankfully I am not actually a vegetarian, or I would have been more upset about the matter.
My experience with Southwest was similarly pleasant. I’ve flown Southwest several times in the past. They generally have reasonably priced airfare, and two checked bags are included in the price. This was essential in my case. I did have to shuffle a few things around to get one of my bags down to 50 lbs, but the woman helping us was very nice about it. Furthermore, I only paid $75 for the third checked bag at the airport. I think this is very reasonable considering I’ve had to pay $100 for a slightly overweight bag in the past. Again the staff was very kind and helpful on both Southwest flights.
Finally, after leaving my apartment in Nice for the last time at 7:30 am Tuesday morning, we arrived in Detroit at 12:30 pm Wednesday afternoon. We kicked off my arrival with lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant. After under three hours of sleep over the entire trip, I don’t know how I made it through the lunch awake.
I expected to feel a bit weird being back in the States, and I do. I’m pleasantly surprised that being here feels quite normal at the same time though. Everything really is bigger in the US. Going into Home Depot and Target was a bit shocking. I’ve been in large department stores in France, but seeing one single store, dedicated to a general category of goods, taking up such a large open space is odd. Going out to breakfast and getting an omelet that spans an entire large plate is shocking. These things were completely normal to me before leaving, but after spending so much time in a country with smaller portions of nearly everything, these sights are a bit off-putting. Coming home just in time for a holiday weekend has also made things a bit more interesting. Displaying flags and countless other patriotic, American flag patterned things is uniquely American. Aside from the recent surge in popularity of the French flag after the November attacks in Paris, displaying the French flag is usually seen as distinctly nationalist; a symbol monopolized by the extreme right. By no means am I purporting that the French are not proud of their heritage. This pride is just expressed in different ways.
While I miss France already, and I know these feelings will only intensify as time goes on, I am happy to be home having the chance to see family and friends that I haven’t seen in 8 months. I’m also taking full advantage of the other things I’ve been missing: shopping at Target, (relatively) cheap Starbucks, true Mexican food, and going out to breakfast just to name a few.
See you again next week for another weekend coffee share !