I’ve been here for a month now and unfortunately; my journey will be ending in a few days when I take my flight back to the states. Looking back, there are so many things that I’ll miss. I’ll miss visiting the many bakeries open in the morning for a quick bite to eat before class. I’ll miss my professor who always managed to make us laugh and taught us a lot about French culture, even suggesting French movies and places to visit. I’ll miss the beautiful architecture of the buildings in Paris and how different they all look in comparison to the U.S. I’ll miss all of the kind people I’ve met who I probably would’ve never met if I hadn’t attended this program. And most importantly, I’ll miss the food. From my first meal which was la pizza margherita (an Italian dish found at many French restaurants) to the many chocolate crêpes, baguettes, macarons, and fancy meals I’ve eaten at restaurants, all of them were delicious to me. Additionally, French supermarkets such as Franprix and Monoprix have delicious packaged baked goods such as chocolate-covered waffles, croissants, and a variety of breads. These were great for picnics by the Seine river or many of the beautiful parks and gardens throughout the city, especially the Luxembourg Gardens which is where the French Senate building resides.
As I sit on the balcony of my apartment while writing this, I feel a mixture of sadness and nostalgia. The sound of cars cruising by and the rustle of leaves echoing as I gaze at people rushing to work will soon become distant memories. Many of the excursions that I’ve been on have already become memories that feel far away. From the boat tour on the Seine to visiting Versailles and the Catacombs, it feels like I’ve visited these places ages ago. Time really does fly by when you’re having fun exploring new environments. What I liked the most was spending our last excursion ascending the Eiffel Tower and taking in the view of the city from up there. With the Eiffel Tower being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Paris, it made sense to finish there. Surprisingly, it only took us an hour and a half of waiting in line at 4 PM on a Friday to buy our tickets and board the elevator. The fact that there were tiny sprinklers spraying some water on us while we were in line made our wait much more bearable because the temperature that day was around 94 F. Staring down at city from the tower made me realize how much I’d love to stay in Paris and continue learning more about French culture.
But, I also miss my family. I feel like I would’ve enjoyed myself more with them here because I’d have had people I could rely on as I adjusted to living in France. The staff in the program were really helpful with offering tips on how to smooth my transition, but for me, there’s nothing like having people I already know to guide me during difficult times. However, at the same time, I’m glad I came alone because it taught me that I’m capable of taking care of myself and coping with stress on my own. When I first stepped off my plane at the Charles De Gaulle airport outside of Paris, I was overwhelmed and clueless. I didn’t know how I’d be perceived or where to go to find the taxi stands, but I figured it out without much help. Now, I feel confident about my problem-solving abilities. When I revisit the airport for my departure, I know that I can get to my terminal and gate by myself. Hopefully, I can continue building on my confidence and independence when I get home because these are important life skills to have as an adult.
Additionally, there are a few aspects of French culture I intend to bring with me back to the U.S. because of the benefits that they can offer. The first one is using a reusable filtered water bottle instead of buying a lot of bottled water. This will be very economical for me as a college student and more eco-friendly for the environment. The second aspect involves dressing nicer while still looking casual. From my experience in Paris, dressing this way is common and psychology shows that dressing nicely can make people feel more confident and think more positively about themselves. And of course, the third aspect involves food. I definitely need to learn how to make le croque monsieur as a delicious sandwich for lunch one day.
Overall, this experience of being in Paris has certainly been one that I will never forget, and it won’t be the last. Merci, Paris!