**Last September, I joined a group of students from Sciences Po on a hitchhiking trip from Paris to Lille, a major city in northern France. Hitchhiking is traveling by getting free rides from pass vehicles, on highways, intersections etc.. It is a common way of traveling especially among young people in Europe, to save money and have fun memories.
I remember on that Saturday, at 8am, all of us gathered in front of the Church of Saint-Sulpice, ready to embark on our adventures. We were divided into groups of three, and departed separately. During our hitchhiking round trips, we took four rides in total–we were among the lucky groups; other groups took more than six or seven rides from strangers. To hitchhike is to perceive traveling in a brand-new way; first, you are not guaranteed instant satisfaction–you never know when your next driver will pick you up and who what person is. You have to stay positive and patient. Second, you learn to appreciate the process. Because everything is slower now, there is no hurry in getting to the destination, you take a look around the suburbs and find a piece of peacefulness; or you talk to your hitchhiking partners, hear about your partners’ previous hitchhiking stories. And eventually when you finally get to the destination, after all the waiting and praying, you take it all in; you appreciate the everything about the destination because you spend so much effort in getting there, you gotta make it worth.
The suburbs that we passed by during the hitchhiking trips were beautiful. There was not that much there; houses of equal height and length, nothing in sight but the blue sky when you look up. You can tell people who live here lead a simple life. Experiencing the suburbs calmed me down; it was so quiet that the only thing I thought of doing is to talk to my hitchhiking partners. I remember I asked them “Would you live here in the suburb?” “Maybe for the short-term or vacation, but I think I will get bored if I actually live here” **
- Suburbs near Lille: Mao