“Why do people move? What makes them uproot and leave everything they’ve known for a great unknown beyond the horizon? Why climb this Mount Everest of formalities that makes you feel like a beggar? Why enter this jungle of foreignness where everything is new, strange and difficult?
The answer is the same the world over: people move in the hope of a better life.”
As I finished The Life of Pi for the second time this summer, I stumbled upon this quote that I couldn’t quite get out of my head. I read, and read it, and then read it again. As someone who has called 3 different cities ‘home’ for the last 4 years, I really asked myself why I was leaving yet again.
While I would say I moved to Paris in search of a better life, the move did not grant me a better life immediately. I was going the furthest away I’ve ever been from my family. I was leaving behind beloved friends at school. I was literally entering a jungle of foreignness where I don’t even know the language. (I thought I knew French before I came here, but after being here a few weeks, I realized I know almost nothing).
So why did I move to Paris? To gain fluency in another language. To learn to be more independent. To travel beyond my horizons and learn about other cultures. To challenge myself and learn more about myself in the process. To show others that you are bound by nothing if you adopt that mentality.
I meant to write my first thoughts before I came here, but all they consisted of were my fears. Fears that I wouldn’t actually arrive in France. Fear that I wasn’t at an adequate level of French to be a part of this program. Fear that I would get homesick and want to turn around and run back to Phoenix. Overall, just fear that I wasn’t good enough.
I decided, instead, to wait a few weeks and then write about all the things I’ve learned about studying abroad and about Parisian culture. Voici, some of the things I’ve learned in my month of French immersion.
- You may think you know a language (french) because you know how to conjugate certain verbs. But actually, you don’t know much. Even when you can finally form a grammatically correct sentence, you’re probably saying it with the wrong rhythm.
- If you never stop being afraid to make mistakes, you’ll never learn. This goes for learning a new language, learning how to use public transportation, learning what are and aren’t comfortable shoes for walking around in Paris in.
- Speaking of walking–10,000 steps is nothing to Parisians. I average about 20,000 steps here.
- There is no such thing as a chocolate croissant!!! There are croissants, and then there are pain au chocolat. Both are delicious, 10/10 would recommend.
- The French are able to spot tourists based on who’s smiling on the metro.
- French people really do walk around with baguettes in-hand. It’s custom to get a new baguette every day for dinner. Don’t ask me about berets though.
- There is no such thing as snacking in France. True Parisians only eat large meals.
- Wine with a meal doesn’t count as alcohol. (Words of wisdom by Bella my host mom).
- Smoking and “french fries” are both as popular as you thought they were.
- “Jaywalking” doesn’t exist here. You cross the street as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
I still have so much to do and learn. I have yet to visit The Louvre (though I live 5 mins away) and the la tour Eiffel. I’m trying to enjoy Paris by means other than visiting all the tourist-y places, but there will come a time for those in the future. In the meantime, enjoy some of the photos I’ve snapped while here that didn’t make the cut for their own blog plost/instagram.
My first meal at a real french restaurant. I went with the plat du jour or dish of the day.
Notre-Dame de Paris, which I casually walked by after lunch one day.
A beautiful room in La Comedie Française, the oldest still-active theatre in the world. (Also five minutes from my house!)
One of the many beautiful colored doors in Paris, of which I have tons of pictures in my camera roll.
I miss Phoenix, and all my friends (my best friend especially) and family (Jessica, I miss u tons), and eating Mexican food, and the sunshine, but I am so eternally grateful to be here. I know that this year will challenge me in more ways than one, and I am excited to share it with those of you who care enough to follow along. À plus tard!