A year ago today, from this very same spot at Library West, I bought the plane ticket that led me to the most amazing experience. This summer, I embark on a new experience in the nation’s capital (America’s own little Paris in my opinion).. but nothing will ever trump this.
These memories are too perfect. I miss you all!
I’m back in the good ol’ US of A. Happy? Sad? It’s a bittersweet feeling. It’s been a dream of mine for many years to visit Paris, and though it may not have turned out to be quite what I was expecting, it did exceed my expectations in numerous ways, and I can honestly, legitimately say that I fell in love with the city of Paris. Paris is so romanticized and idealized in the US. We see it in film, literature, fashion, art, and food. I still find it hard to believe that everything about Paris that was once intangible and a creation of my mind and imagination is now a part of my actual past and life experience (and hopefully future too). I don’t have to wonder anymore what it would be like to live in Paris for I have lived it myself. It’s been an incredible learning experience for me at this prime age where I have learned a lot but still have much to learn about myself and the world. From the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame to the daily pain au chocolats and smelly metro rides, I will miss it all.
Above everything else though, I will truly miss the amazing, incredible people I met and got to know each step of the way. Without them, my Paris experience would be nothing. My host family was truly wonderful and a joy to live with. Merci to Blandine, Margaux, and Carla for their wonderful hospitality and making me feel at home (or as much as I could being thousands of miles from home). Such an interesting dynamic it is to throw a bunch of college kids from all over the US—all over the world even, together for a month in a new city. I think we all learned more about ourselves and our relation to the world. We were more conscious of how we portrayed ourselves to other people, and we saw sides of each other and shared things that maybe we don’t even do with our friends back home. Saying goodbye was emotional and like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Usually goodbye is more of a “see you around”, but in this situation, there is a level of uncertainty in knowing that you don’t know when (or if) you will ever see each other again. C’est la vie. People come in and out of our lives, and that is the way the world works. It’s best to just appreciate the time you do have with people, and so I’ll always look back on this experience and remember how we spent the summer with picnics in the garden, late-night wine sessions, and crazy escapades in the city. It’s truly been a challenging and yet rewarding experience. My ability to speak French may have only improved marginally, but my confidence has increased exponentially. I have a new appreciation for art and art history thanks to my amazing professor. The way in which I view the world and want to live in it has changed in ways I don’t think it ever would have if it wasn’t for this experience. I’m not done with Paris. I will return again, and I look forward to the day I can bring family or friends with me and be able to relive my experiences with them. I truly understand the importance of traveling and the imprint it can leave on your life, and I only hope that you all make your way to Paris or anywhere far from home. Life’s too short, make it sweet like the delicious macarons and crêpes I ate. Oh Paris, I miss you more everyday..
I lived in a beautiful city, met wonderful people, and learned so much about myself. Thanks to all those who made this month le temps de ma vie. I hope that our paths will one day cross again. Paris, je t’aime.
The soundtrack of my summer and what I listened to my last night with Lady Eiffel.
This post is far too late, but it must be done for my own benefit of looking back on this experience. If you’re reading this right now, or have read any of my blog posts, I thank you for that. Sometimes I write these with just my own purposes in my mind and forget that there are some people out there who are genuinely interested in what’s been going on. :) I write this from the USA, but there’s still much to be said about the last week, so here goes:
DUBLINNNN. Yes, I went to Dublin, and it was awesome. The journey from Paris to Dublin went far from smoothly though. We missed our first shuttle to the airport because the metro stopped running on Lauren and Meg, and so they spent the morning literally running through the streets of Paris. The next thing I know, they get to the bus depot and completely bypass the long line. They’re running through the parking lot—right past our bus actually. I called out to them, and we could all finally take a breath and head to the airport! Then at the airport, I had another problem. My boarding pass I printed out had my name spelled wrong, and Ryanair wanted 110 euros to fix it, those bastards. So I used a little PDF editing magic to fix my own boarding pass, and the whole thing went through without a hitch. Take that Ryanair and your money-thirsty motives and terrible customer service! Then we get to the hostel only to find Lynnsey left her wallet on the bus. Thanks to the super awesome guy working at our hostel, Dennis, and the awesome bus driver Chris, the wallet was eventually retrieved. Now the fun begins..
First day I had to make a trip to the ATM and explored Dublin a bit on the way. The river reminded me of being in Paris, but other than that, Dublin was really nothing like Paris. It’s a less metropolitan and touristy place, and the people are so warm and friendly. The best part: they speak English!
Our main event for the night was a Hostels Pub Crawl. That was quite a night. I drank a whole pint of Guinness (and have determined I will be completely okay if I never drink Guinness again), watched the opening ceremony of the olympics with people from all over, met a lot of interesting (and not so interesting) people, went to the bar from PS I Love You, drank red lemonade which is illegal in all other European countries, and experienced a really great moment when Ireland was introduced at the olympics in which people sang some Irish chant with their beers in hand. It was like something out of the movies.
Next day = no hangover. Took a trip to Trinity College.
Shopping on Grafton Street is always a good idea.
We went to the Guinness Brewery which was really interesting to see how it was made. We made our way to the Gravity Bar at the top where you can see a panoramic view of Dublin.
Last day we went to Wicklow & Glendalough! Breath-taking landscapes and being one with nature made for an amazing day. It was definitely a nice change of pace from Paris, and we met some cool Americans too. I never thought I’d ever visit the green hills of Ireland, so it was pretty surreal. The only downsides were getting mud all over my new shoes and getting some grass stains on my jeans. Still worth it!
We spent our last night in Dublin at the famous Temple Bar. I didn’t think I’d like the Irish pub scene so much. The live music, the beer & cider, and the atmosphere make for a fun night. Overall, it was an amazing trip. I grew a lot closer with the girls I went with and made some acquaintances that will make for good memories. Dublin is filled with friendly people and good times, and I hope to come back again.
Man, a whole week has passed since my last post. My time in Paris is sadly winding down, and I’ve been trying to get out and do as much as I can. I’m starting to get to the point though where I don’t really have much left on my list of things to see. Perhaps I’m finally making my transition from American student/tourist to faux-Parisian. It’s about time, huh? With less than a week left, it’s less about figuring out where to go in this city but rather, seeing where the city takes me.
Earlier last week, I went to the Père-Lachaise cemetery which was unlike any cemetery I have ever seen. One, it was HUGE.. and I mean HUGE. Second, the tombstones were so artistic and unique in and of themselves. Third, there were lots of famous dead people.
Colette (I also learned you might need to click on the picture icon to see it)
I made a visit with my Art History class to Musée D’Orsay! It was incredible.. so much amazing art. I saw works by Monet, Manet, Courbet, Van Gogh, and Degas. Outside of the museum was a lovely surprise of live music. I find these surprises rather often.. on the street, in the metro, at the park.. I’m not complaining. There’s something very Paris-esque about it I think.
Multiple times during the last week, I’ve had lunch at L’As du Fallafel in the Marais. I’m no falafel connaisseur, but it was mighty tasty if I do say so myself. According to the sign outside, it’s Lenny Kravitz’s favorite falafel and that of many considering there’s always a decent crowd in line.
I finished off the week with a visit from my friend who’s studying in Rome, Sergio. I was excited to share this amazing city with someone who had never experienced it before. I also had Chinese food, which was a first for me here. :P
Weekend excursion to the Loire Valley! The weekend summed up in a few words: chateaux, winery tour/tasting, late night hotel mingling, more wine, goat cheese, castle-side picnic, biscuits/cookies, and more wine. Good weekend? Check.
At one point.. this happened while we were eating lunch:
And apparently we didn’t eat fast enough because it happened two more times.
The wine just kept coming. It was like a bottomless wine glass. ‘Twas lovely.
On Monday, I spent hours in Galeries-Lafayette. Bought a black leather jacket and lingerie. Personal Paris mementos: check. Afterwards, I made a stop at Le Grand Opéra which is the opera house The Phantom of the Opera is set in.
Oh yeah.. school update: Took my final today which means I am really almost done! Studying for the final was easier with Pierre Hermé macarons (best I’ve had).
My Phonetics class!
And finally.. Le Musée Rodin! Beautiful garden, amazing sculptures, hot HOT weather. At least the sun’s appearance makes for good photos.. finally!
Le Penseur/The Thinker
More frequent posts to come to cover my final days in Paris!