I blinked my eyes and now summer is coming to a close. I honestly have no clue how the past four months flew by so quickly, but now that I am finally back home in Canada I decided to write about the summer I’ll never forget.

Volunteering in Montpellier: The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

As a big fan of the Canadian Women’s soccer team, before going abroad I knew that the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was happening in France, and as luck would have it, Montpellier was one of the host cities! The decision to apply for a volunteer position was a no-brainer, and in January I received the news that I got the position!

Large group of Montpellier volunteers standing on a staircase outside, with their hands in the air

Group shot of all the Montpellier volunteers

In terms of roles, I worked in accreditation, marketing and spectator services. In accreditation, I had contact with a wide range of people, from the media to security and everyone in between. It was in this position that passes were made, indicating which zones of the stadium each individual had the right to enter. In terms of marketing, I got to see first-hand how sponsorships affect the tournament and how all logos of companies not sponsoring the event cannot be displayed in the stadium. As for spectator services, I had direct interaction with members of the public, by directing them to their seats and answering any questions they may have.

Picture of Marissa with a handful of other volunteers posing in a large square photo frame

This shot was taken just before the public was allowed into the stadium on a game day.

Furthermore, as the staff knew that I was a huge fan of the Canadian soccer team, I was invited to have additional shifts during the Canadian team’s welcome ceremony and public training session. It goes without saying that the welcome ceremony was one of the highlights of my volunteering experience as I was able to meet the team! Being only feet away from some of my biggest sports heroes was indescribable.

Overall, I had an incredible time volunteering for this amazing event! Not only was I able to practice my French every day, but I was able to meet so many incredible people. Looking back, I know that I made the right choice to stay in France during the summer.

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a 165.64 kilometer hike, circling the Mont Blanc massif (a mountain range in the Alps). It has a total ascent of 9,559 meters and passes through France, Italy and Switzerland. And on July 11th  my parents, sister and I laced up our hiking boots, put on our backpacks and started this nine day, self-guided journey.

The hike was filled with numerous ups and downs (both literally and figuratively). At the time, some of the days felt endless and my body was in a constant state of being sore. In some moments I wanted to quit, to stop hiking and let my body rest. But I would always push these thoughts out of my mind and keep going, one step at a time.

However, looking back, these struggles are not what I remember the most. I remember the stunning nature and jaw-dropping views that were around every corner. We walked on dirt, grass, rocks, pavement, bridges and ladders, over snow and creeks, through forests, meadows and even the clouds, and saw waterfalls, cows and mountains galore. Being surrounded by nature every day gave me the opportunity to reflect and allowed me to truly appreciate the natural beauty of our planet.

Picture of hikers on the trails of Mont Blanc with the mountains all around them

Surrounded by nature on the trail!

Picture of hikers on the Mont Blanc trail with cloudy fog and mountains ahead

More hiking on the Mont Blanc trail.

The hike showed me that my body is capable of so much more than I previously thought and allowed me to become stronger, both physically and mentally. It was a journey that I would never trade for the world.

Marissa sitting on the edge of the mountain, overlooking the beautiful scenic mountain view

Enjoying the view during Day 4’s highest peak!

All in all, what I am most grateful about this trip was being able to share it with my family. Through the challenges, we were able to find comfort in the fact that we were not alone and the good moments were made even better as they were shared.

Overall, this summer was nothing short of amazing. I have made memories that will be forever ingrained in my mind and I am so grateful to have been able to experience as much as I did. Although my next stop is back to Canada, I know that I took advantage of every moment while I was abroad and am finally ready to return home and see what the future has to offer!

À bientôt!

– Marissa

Marissa is a third-year Bachelor of International Business (BIB) studying abroad in France.

Monday, September 9, 2019 in , , ,
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