September 2012



Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oh dear, suddenly it's been two weeks since my initial blog post. I guess I'll chalk it up to enjoying myself here too much, but in truth it's also linked to some problems with my Blogger account, which have been annoying and tough to resolve. In any case - here I am, friends! Alive and well and ridiculously happy.

My apartment here in Paris is the smallest little thing, but it's perfect. It's on a quiet street in the 7th arondissement (a word whose spelling I STILL can't ever remember); it has blue walls and red tiles and an enormous and beautiful window, including a view over some prime Parisian rooftops. It's only 9m², and is probably about twice the size of my closet at home... but truth be told, there's no better feeling than having a place to call my own here in my favorite city. These past two weeks have been a fantastic and exhausting re-introduction to Paris. It feels comfortable and perfect, and not at all like two years have passed. Red wine on the banks of the Seine beneath Notre Dame's beautiful facade, too-strong cocktails at my favorite bar, perfectly crunchy-yet-soft baguettes, melty stinky cheese... I could write on and on. I can't believe I ever had doubts about coming, really. As soon as I entered the city limits by bus after landing at Charles de Gaulle two weeks ago, my heart felt like it was trying desperately to escape from my chest with excitement and happiness. I saw the impressive Haussmannian architecture, the boulangeries on every corner, the rail-thin French girls with cigarettes in hand, and I knew I was home.

I don't start work until the 3rd of October, which means I still have two weeks of vacation time before beginning anything too serious. While I haven't been doing anything particularly awe-inspiring, the fact that I can leave my apartment and walk in any direction for hours without boredom is a fact whose greatness I don't underestimate. I'm seduced again and again by everything Paris has to offer – and look forward, too, to finding new and exciting things to draw me in farther. A friend that I studied abroad with is also here and doing the same program, and sometimes as we visit all our old stomping grounds it feels bittersweet to have moved on from that oh so wonderful period. But at the same time, upon meeting two American study abroad students a few days ago, it felt so satisfying to say “We live here.” Perhaps that vague condescension is an indication of some French culture already rubbing off on me? I'll have to keep that one in check...

Luckily, I have some incredibly great and friendly neighbors which means that I'm once again speaking enough French to make bizarre English sentences; little irregularities every now and then – such as the recent impulse to add “frankly!” to the end of each sentence, or exclaiming “It's super cool!!!” I'm glad for the immersion and to make progress with my French, but on the other hand it's alarming how quickly I've confused some sentence construction. If not my French, my Franglais will certainly be flawless when I return to the US.

My parents were here over the weekend, which was wonderful and, naturally, filled with delicious food. It was lovely to have them here, and to reassure them that I'm installed well and happy. I hope they left on Monday feeling as confident as I am that this is the right place for me. While I miss my sisters and my friends to no end, I'm grateful for all the technology that allows me to stay in touch so well. Aside from a pesky time difference, there's no shortage of ways to be instantly connected to the people I love so much back home.

In short, (bref!) all goes well here. I'm not sure I can add photos to this post at the moment, because of my Google account problems, but you'll see on the right of my blog page a link to my Instagram account. Anyone hungry for photos of Paris (cliché or otherwise) can click through there and see what I've been up to. Tonight I think my friend and I are headed to find a free meal at a dingy café in the 10th that serves free moules frites on Wednesdays. I'm hoping to get my account problems sorted in the next week or so, and I promise to be better about updating – for all my millions of readers!

À bientôt xo



Posted on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When I left Paris almost two years ago, as a college junior, I knew I'd be back.

The last time I saw the Eiffel Tower, in December of 2010
It wasn't necessarily a firm plan - I never really actively sketched out the logistics of my return, or had a solid idea of what I'd do - but I knew, in the cheesiest and most predictable corners of my heart, that I wasn't finished with Paris.  Or, maybe, that Paris wasn't finished with me.

Two years and two college degrees later, my bags are packed and at the front door of my suburban Philadelphia home.  My trusty book of Parisian maps is tucked away in my purple backpack between collections of WB Yeats' poetry and Gertrude Stein's work, my Euros have replaced the (pathetically few) dollars in my wallet, and my métro card has moved back into its familiar zippered pocket.  Tonight, I'll leave my home again, but in a markedly different way.  While preparing to study abroad held much of the excitement and anxiety that these past few weeks have contained, there's some distinct yet unnamable difference here.  Certainly, some of the contrasts are easy to identify, but I'm not sure any one of them singly makes the distinction in full.  Living alone in a shoebox-sized apartment rather than with a roommate and family in a comfy and spacious homestay comes to mind as I warily eye my large and heavy case, but I don't think that's it.  Perhaps it's a newly found sense of maturity and sense of self?  Not yet, I don't think.

Whatever the difference, this trip feels somehow more uncertain than it did last time.  The decision to go was made quickly - I'd applied last winter to be an English language assistant in France, more or less on a whim, and was surprised to find in the spring that I'd been placed in a school just outside Paris.  Even after being accepted, I still didn't think I was going.  But as a few doors closed on me in the United States, I realized that there was a window still open - a window with an Eiffel Tower view, no less.  I decided to go, to accept the position, and so here I am.  I'll arrive back in Paris tomorrow morning, and I'm not sure how I'll feel upon touchdown.  Excited, for sure, and definitely nervous - but there's no way for me to know whether or not a dramatic move of this kind will pay off, will lead to something worthwhile.  With friends from coast to coast in the US working in very real jobs and studying to obtain very real degrees, it's difficult sometimes not to feel like I'm evading reality a bit by making this leap.  But then I look back at the final entry my last blog from my time studying abroad (click here to read), and I'm certain this is the right thing to do.  Paris does something to me, makes me feel free and alive in ways that nowhere else really does, and I realize just how fortunate I am to be returning.

My time here over the summer has been wonderful - from the debaucherous week after graduation spent in Outer Banks with an incredible group of college friends to quiet Sunday mornings at home with my family - I can't underestimate the amount of love and gratitude I have for family and friends.  I'm leaving behind so many people that I care about so much, but they know (I hope!) I'll never seem too far away.  This opportunity is a fantastic one, and I'll be fully ready to seize it come tomorrow morning.  At least, after my first croissant. Stay tuned, my friends.