Guest Post: To France and Beyond

I was one of the very few kids who were able to graduate early from high school. Very few high schools in Minnesota had been doing this during my last year of school. My school, a fairly large school in a podunk town, was one of the very last schools to offer this service, and I was one of the lucky ones to get out.

Some of my friends and I from St. Andrews.

The year before my senior year I had been accepted to a creative program in Scotland. It was by far, the best experience I have ever had. Not only was I staying at St. Andrews, I was surrounded by like minded people. Plus, I got to take really amazing classes with some of the brightest people I’ve ever known. That was where I met some of my best friends, who throughout the past year or so I have still kept in contact with.

Magali giving me a Marvel movie education.

One of my very good friends that I met at St. Andrews, Magali, lives in a small town a little outside Paris. A week or two after the program ended, Magali and I messaged and video chatted as much as we could due to time zone changes. At this point, I had gotten my first job and she was getting ready to go back to school.

One night, we were messaging and suddenly, I had reached an epiphany. I had been working almost everyday at my job and had enough money for a plane ticket to Paris. My fingers anxiously typed and waited for a response. Magali couldn’t have been more ecstatic with the idea! That night we planned a time to chat to talk in more details about the trip.

Pax and I at the beach at St. Andrews.

I had known at the time that I had enough credits to graduate early, so from that point on, I set my goal in mind and focused on my trip. Magali and I had told all of our friends about me visiting. We had started to get the gang back together. Our friend Jane traveled from the Czech Republic to stay with us for a week and then our friend Pax from London had taken the train to stay with us for a weekend.

So, in March when I graduated, I continued to save up for a month before I made the nine hour plane ride there. Every day was exhausting, mentally and physically. I had been working eight hours a day, five days away. My feet burned after every shift and after each day it felt like the days kept getting longer. I had been working in customer service for about almost a year and my high school job had almost got the best of me. It had gotten to the point where I was taking more orders than I could handle.

But in the end it was all worth it.

Jane, Magali and I at the Eiffel Tower.

I took a trip that some people don’t do until they retire. The best part was that I did all by myself. I planned, budgeted and saved up for it all by myself. It was one of the most empowering experiences I’ve ever had. I was seventeen and had a month long sleepover with my best friends. I couldn’t of wished for a better trip.

I spent the days walking around Paris, going to Kpop shops, going to art museums and most importantly, eating a lot of food. I remember we went to the Lourve where Magali demanded we take a picture of her flipping off the Mona Lisa. I had also spent a week going to school with Magali and meeting all of her friends, who were all wonderful and kind people to be around. They tried teaching me French, but my pronunciation was always way off.

Magali and Jane flipping off the Mona Lisa.

I encourage any young women to take a trip like the one I had. It was one of the most eye opening and jaw dropping experiences I have ever had. In the end, you only get very few chances to do something like this and you should take advantage of that.

Molly Baumgardner is a young writer and cat enthusiast. You can read some of her work at

Enjoy this writing advice and want more content like it? Check out the classes Cat gives via the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, which offers both on-demand and live online writing classes for fantasy and science fiction writers from Cat and other authors, including Ann Leckie, Seanan McGuire, Fran Wilde and other talents! All classes include three free slots.

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About Cat Rambo

I am a science fiction and fantasy writer and editor. My three collections of short stories are THE SURGEON'S TALE AND OTHER STORIES (with Jeff VanderMeer), EYES LIKE SKY AND COAL AND MOONLIGHT, and NEAR + FAR (forthcoming this September).
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