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Paris at 18, or: The Adventures of Lifetimes

Bonjour, YA Highway readers! I'm writing to you from a Wifi-enabled cafe in the center of Paris. My travel/backpacking partner is currently composing some postcards; I wanted to take this chance to talk to you guys in the middle of the most exciting trip I've ever been on. We have to leave for le Centre Pompidou (modern art museum) soon, so I'll be quick... but I'll hopefully get something meaningful across!

Ever since it started in London last week, this trip has been wow-worthy - probably because everything is so NEW. When you're a little kid, everything is new and exciting. But as you get older, things start to get slightly stale. Isn't this the same thing you've always seen and done? Maybe it's technically new, but... haven't you done something similar before? Where is the adventure?

Well, it's rare - real adventure in life is rare. And the standard for it rises after little-kid-dom. It seems like in YA, a lot of plots consist of the teenage main character going on their first, high-standard Grand Adventure. Whether said adventure takes place across the world (yay!), or right at home (perhaps dealing with a challenge beyond normal scope), the character will: A) stake out on their own, B) face down obstacles, C) experience new exhilaration, and D) gain an exciting new viewpoint.

I'm unbelievably happy to say that I think this trip counts as my Grand Adventure. There are no adults present, which makes me the adult, responsible for my own problems. This side of the world is SO new and amazing - it's across an ocean! And I can already feel myself changing from the experience... in a good way.

What was your first Grand Adventure? Have you had one? IMO, it's never too late. Does your favorite YA main character have one? What about the main character in your book? Paris is my new favorite city in the world (it's so incredibly beautiful!), and I can't wait to check out Venice and Rome either (three weeks of backpacking total). Love, hugs, and more love from Paris. Yay!!
Emilia Plater

Emilia is a YA author who avoids studying, food that isn't covered in cheese, and waking up before 10:30AM whenever possible. A bundle of confusions.

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  1. Yay, Emilia! I'm glad you're having a life-changing experience! :)

    My first "Grand Adventure" was very similar to yours. After graduating high school, my best friend and I (we were 17 and 18) flew from Australia to the US (for ten weeks), from the US to London, traveled through Europe (England, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands) and ended up living in Portugal for awhile. It was amazing. We were away from Australia for about six months.

    Enjoy every minute!

  2. That is so amazing, I'm so happy for you! I'd say my first adventure was very similar - I spent a year studying abroad in England (an adventure in itself) and in April a friend and I did a backpacks only 2 week tour of Europe. It was absolutely amazing, as I'm sure you're finding out! Have fun on the rest of your trip!

  3. I'm so jealous of your traipsing about Europe, Emilia. Sounds like you're having an amazing time. I'm completely enamored of Paris as well -- it's one of the places I'd love to live for a spell if I were to suddenly come into a lot of money.

    I've traveled and lived abroad a fair amount (the year I spent in Spain was the best year of my life), but the trip I think of as my Grand Adventure was the winter I was 20, when my best friend, her cousin, and I backpacked around Spain and France. It was a sort trip -- only two weeks -- but I still consider it my mini little blue envelope adventure.

    Keep having fun!

  4. That sounds very exciting! Currently two of my friends are spending this week in Paris on a grand adventure. My own personal grand adventure won't start until August of 2012, when I plan to leave for New Zealand for a year. :) Taking an adventure is so very exciting!

  5. Ooh, I'm dying to go to Paris. I did spend a little time in a tiny town in France called Perigueux when I was 18. I guess that was my grand adventure although it really wasn't all that grand.
    My character definitely goes on her own grand adventure and she's got a lot more adventures coming to her!

  6. I'm loving your Grand Adventure updates and your embracing of The New, Emilia! My first Grand Adventure was five weeks in Paris and environs many moons ago, but I look forward to always having many Grand Adventures in my life. YA or not, discovering the new should never, ever cease!

  7. Em, I'm so happy you're having an amazing time!

    I was 19 for my first adventure, which was in Trinidad. Definitely life-changing. Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

  8. My most memorable Grand Adventure was fairly unpleasant, as is my main character's.

    I rode a Greyhound bus (several, actually) for 48 hours with my dad, moving from Florida to Arkansas with my life compressed into three duffel bags. Not a lot of fifteen year old girs could say that...

    Not a lot would want to, make no mistake. It involved a very numb butt, a lack of sleep, and a lot of tears when they almost kicked my father off of the bus in Memphis. My tears are what saved him, by the way.

    A very tramatizing adventure, but an adventure nonetheless.

  9. I'm jealous of your trip but happy to hear you're having such a great time. Paris really is lovely.

    My grand adventure happened when I studied abroad in Madrid for my junior year of college. I was staying with a host family, taking classes at a spanish university all in spanish and pretty much in charge of myself. It was amazing. :)

  10. I lived in Switzerland for 3 months volunteering at a Girl Scout world center in a little town in the Swiss Alps.

    It was GRAND. and AMAZING. And sometimes I wish I could still live in that moment.

  11. I recently finished my grand adventure.
    This past spring I spent a semester abroad with my school. For two months I travelled around the middle east. We weren't able to go into Egypt due to the riots, but I was able to see Damascus before the chaos. I was able to travel in and out of the West Bank and study in Jerusalem.
    Then for the second half of the semester, I was in Europe. I lived with a family in Montpellier, France for a month. Then I traveled to Spain and Italy. Once the semester ended I spent a week in a monastery in France and then a couple days in Geneva.
    I had an amazing time! It was extraordinary.

    Soak up as much as you can. Just be open to new cultures and different ways of living.


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Item Reviewed: Paris at 18, or: The Adventures of Lifetimes Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Emilia Plater