This is my entry from 1/12 about actually getting to Nantes:
At O'Hare, Jess and Devin showed up just after me to check-in, although Jess got delayed a while because her bags were too heavy. At the gate Katie and Courtney eventually showed up, and we met Laura, who is going to Paris with Jess. Serena and Alex from IES Nantes joined us later. We saw two other girls from our program too as we were boarding.
I sat next to Devin on the plane and by some miracle got some sleep, even though the man in front of me reclined his seat the whole way for the entire flight. I already have short legs but the man crushed me. I literally couldn't move them. Turns out it was an IES parent.
We arrived on time and got out bags with no trouble, except Devin left her purse on the plane, but got it back easily. Devin and Katie left to get the bag, and Alex went to get some cash so we lost them, but then Emily joined our group. The four remaining IES people made it to Terminal 2 of the airport in Paris so we could wait for our train. We sat a few hours in 58 degree weather from the cold air coming in from the platforms. I had a ham and cheese baguette for lunch while we waited. Then Alex found our group, followed by Devin and Katie coming back. A little later, Emmi and Kathryn showed up, and as I got up to say hi we found Sam too! Everyone from IWU had officially made it. Victory.
We all got on the train and made the 3 hour trip to Nantes. Some very nice old man helped me and another IES girl wedge our luggage on...thank god he didn't throw out his back or something. Another woman asked how long we were staying here because we had so much luggage. She probably thought we were just crazy tourists who overpacked for a week. When we got to the station, there weren't any IES people like the book said there would be, so we just took all the cabs there. Unfortunately, stairs were involved. I never want to take a suitcase with me again. Our (now even larger) IES group made it to the center where we took turns waiting for the tiny elevator to bring our stuff upstairs, and were greeted by name since they had memorized our pictures! We all sat around and spazzed everytime the doorbell rang. It was like an awkward blind date or some twisted orphanage where random French people were coming to choose their American. Eventually, Madame and her granddaughter came to get me.
Next entry: A 3 year old 'unpacked' my suitcase....