From roaming the streets of Paris through the rain, shine, and snow to the magnificent museums filled with culture, history, and stories to be told, and visiting places I only dreamed about like Château de Versailles, Notre-Dame, and Amsterdam my first month in Europe has been a whirlwind of dreams coming true and realizations. There are not enough words to truly capture what I’ve seen and done in my first month here, but I’ll give it a try.
I’ll be honest, my first few days were filled with a lot of anxiety, tension, and home sickness. But, all of that changed when I began my French intensive program, and moved in with my host family. With my French intensive program I was able to continue my French studies, but also meet students just like me. Being able to develop friendships has changed my study abroad experience by not feeling alone, and allowing me to connect with other students who want to gain the most out of their study abroad experience. Also, living with a host family was the best decision I could make while living abroad. Being welcomed into a house right away, allowing me to feel at home in a foreign place, made my transition into Paris much more smoothly. It has also allowed me to gain knowledge, and insight on the Parisian culture I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.
Paris is known as the city of lights, love, culture, and history. I never realized this until actually experiencing it. What I’ve read in books like, “A Paris All Your Own,” edited by Eleanor Brown are coming true off the page. The food, art, and people are magnificent. There’s this deep history in the Parisian culture that is so beautiful that when you experience it in real life you understand this fascination with the City of Lights. I believe what has made this experience life changing is seeing the beauty in the simple things, and not rushing to do EVERYTHING there is to do in Paris. Paris is changing me, and the way I appreciate life. There was one pivotal moment where I was on the metro, and there was this little boy and his sister just messing around with each other, while the mother was distracted by making sure she knew what stop to get off, but the little boy made his sister laugh so hard that it made me instantly happy and the people around me too. It’s known on the Paris metro that no one smiles or interacts with each other, but in that simple moment it was different. We may think we know what life is like living in a foreign country, and the way a culture is, but we really don’t. Everyday I’m learning something new here or appreciating something so simple like a little boy riding his scooter in the metro on his way to school at 8 am. It’s everyday life that is so pure.
Last weekend, I was able to travel to Amsterdam, and it was awesome. A weekend trip was the perfect amount of time for me to see the city, but also miss Paris. After an adventurous weekend I was happy and excited to go back to Paris. Thats when I realized I can call Paris my home away from home. Learning, and experiencing something new everyday that I’m not use to back in the states has made me realize how little I’ve seen in this world, and how excited I am for the rest of my journey abroad.