I came to France for the first time in January knowing very little French and no one in the entire country. In the past few months I’ve made friends, learned a bunch of French, and became more comfortable being abroad and in a new city. As these adjustments are happening though, it’s hard to notice them. When my sister visited last week, I became more aware of my progress, and I could see Paris with fresh eyes.
My host family was generous enough to let her stay with us for the week. She got to see the ins and outs of my morning commute, and I had a breakfast buddy for the week. We had dinner altogether the night she got in, and it reminded me of how overwhelmed I was when I first had dinner with the family. They told us they would speak English for her benefit, but it was obviously helpful to me also. They’re always very interested in hearing about life in America, and very amused by certain things. It was nice to have another American at the table, because we’re equally amused with some of their French customs.
I was able to do lots of touristy things that I usually fool myself into thinking I’m too cool for. The first day she was here, we went to Shakespeare and Company, Notre Dame, walked along the Seine and to the Eiffel Tower, and got to Musée d’Orsay twenty minutes before it closed. We also ate really delicious crêpes, and I showed my sister the truth behind the myths that surround French cheese: it’s really good.
It rained on and off throughout the week, and my sister saw in one week about as much rain as I have seen in my entire two months here. While I was in class, she got to go to Montmartre with my host person, an invite he has been extending to me since my first week here. Our schedules have never worked out. She really liked his jolly French spirit and self-perceived talent of being able to distinguish different American accents. They really hit it off!
On Saturday, we stood in line for almost an hour and a half to see the Paris Catacombs and it was entirely worth the wait. I saw more human bones than I ever thought I would see, and we were both pretty sure that we felt a ghost. So scary!
To make up for the rainiest week my sister could have chosen to visit, her last day was also the first really nice day of the year. To appreciate it fully, we decided to go to Versailles. When we got there, we realized that everyone else also had the same idea. It was PACKED! We stood in line for long enough to not even want to go into the chateau when we found out it was actually the wrong line. It was too hot and crowded and I got overwhelmed. It worked out for the best though, because the town of Versailles is quaint and beautiful and has a nice park with a body of water that’s perfect for enjoying spring weather and skipping stones. So we hung out there, got some more great crêpes, and then went back to Paris. I think it was a good last day.