This post was contributed by Marley Scheld.
I spent the past several months leading up to my study abroad trip dreaming about the perfect romance that would blossom while I was away from home. I’d be studying in France, the most romantic country of them all (so they say), traveling completely alone and far away from everyone I know. In my mind, this was always going to be my time to finally bloom in the field of relationships. Or at least, my time to go on dozens of dates with sexy French guys and experience French kissing first hand. It didn’t take me many baguettes into my 4-month-long stay in France to realize that nothing was really going to change from my life at home. I wasn’t going to undergo some magical romantic change that would make every guy fall in love with me on the street, or even have sensual one night stands where we split a cigarette after.
I was still going to be my same lame, awkward self.
You see, my romantic life up until this point has been somewhat of a failure. In middle school, when I found out Bobby was going to ask me out, I hid in the girl’s locker room until school was over. In high school, I wasn’t any different. When Sebastian asked if we wanted to talk somewhere quiet at my friend’s party, I ignored him. When Alex told me he wanted to hook up with me at the Halloween dance, I skipped the party altogether. I’ve had a long history of feeling awkward and nervous around guys, no matter how cute I think they are. I turned to my trip to France as my fantasy.
This would be my chance to have a sexual awakening.
I would meet a lanky but strong French man at a discothèque, we would hit it off, and soon enough, we’d be making out in the middle of the streets of Paris at 4 am. We’d date for a little bit, take a couples trip to Amsterdam, and then break up when it was time for me to go back home. This hypothetical French relationship would get me sexually experienced enough so that I’d be confident for any relationship back home.
So, unlike anything I’ve ever done before, I put myself “out there.” I created a Tinder account to actually search for the person who would, in part, help me experience my sexual awakening. Regardless, I knew I was doing myself good because, at the very least, I was practicing my French with the locals.
I started talking to a nice guy my age who became known as “Chris Tinder” in my phone’s contact list. We talked for a while and decided we would have to meet up sometime. “Sometime” came soon enough because the next day, I asked him out on a date. It is very much unlike me to ask someone on a date, as I usually wait passively on the sideline for someone else to approach me. But I wanted my sexual awakening to happen as quickly as a French person can eat a slice of Camembert cheese.
Chris took me to a lovely bar in the middle of town and bought me a beer. He told me stories about his bike races around France (he’s a future Tour de France contestant, I’m predicting it now), and all about his travels. He was perfect. And to really top it off, he complimented my eyes, which basically made me turn into the consistency of Jell-O and melt directly on the floor. He was perfectly romantic.
Then, he invited me back to his apartment, and the panic set in. I felt the same nervous and awkward feeling I got all throughout high school, with sweaty palms and a racing heart that told me this situation couldn’t end well. I had to find a way out – one quick text to my friend and a fake phone call later, I was out of the situation, and walking back alone to my apartment.
Sure, I’m in the most romantic country I’ve ever been to, but it might not be where I find romance. Where I previously thought that being in France would transform me into somewhat of a new-age Aphrodite sex goddess, I was wrong. I had to step out of the fantasy world into real life. Just because I’m in France doesn’t mean I’m going to be put under a spell that completely changes who I am. I’ll always be awkward and lame around guys, but that’s ok. As long as I’m happy with myself, I don’t need a cigarette-filled one night stand to know I’m having an amazing time traveling abroad.
Meet Marley: I’m a college student from New Jersey who is studying abroad all the way in Montpellier, France. I go to school in Baltimore where I study Journalism, Digital Media, and French. My goal is to become the next Joan Didion and publish my stories in a trendy high-fashion magazine (shoot for the stars, am I right?). Travel pet-peeve: postcards cost way too much money in gift shops – I refuse to pay more than a euro! Keep up with her on IG!
Got a story to share? Check out the submit page on our site and learn how to share your story with our readers!