Bonjour, tout le monde! I am writing from Paris, where I have been living comfortably for the last two weeks. My summer abroad in Senegal was such an adventure that I wanted to share another study abroad experience with you. While I spend the next four months taking the “Cours de Civilisation” (a multidisciplinary semester aimed to improve my knowledge of the French language and culture), I am keeping a blog so that anyone who wants to know what Paris is like can experience the journey with me. Here’s a snippet from my first blog post:
Two nights ago, my mom and I did our final shopping and returned home to an evening of packing. The contents of my two large suitcases and two carry-ons were mostly clothes, but also some gifts for my host family (it’s actually shockingly hard to figure out what to get your new family!), school supplies for my classes at La Sorbonne University, and a big jar of peanut butter for stressful days. I slept very well that night, knowing that tomorrow would be a doozy.
A few things were weighing on my mind, however, namely what I would need to leave behind. I am very close with my family. I mean, ask my parents — I can’t even leave for SUNY Geneseo for a month without crying as I say goodbye to them! And of course, my two beloved “chiens” would be dearly missed.
Mom and Dad drove me to the airport, where I said a tearful goodbye to them. Our separation wouldn’t be for all four plus months of the program, though, since they had plans to visit. Getting through the airport – check in, security, finding my gate – was all quite easy. In the terminal, I met up with some of my fellow Frenchies and we jabbered on about how excited we were for the trip.
So, the plane ride itself… actually wasn’t so awful! We were a little stressed out when we saw that there weren’t individual movie screens on the back of each seat, but we made do with the big ones overhead. I loved sitting in my row with Fiona and Lauren S, and sitting across from Lauren E and Diana — these ladies were such great company and really helped get me pumped for France. We spent an awful lot of timing talking about our plans to visit pretty much every country in Europe…
The only really bad thing about the flight was that I didn’t sleep. By the time we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport, I was beat. Going through security and customs was easily the easiest airport experience I’ve ever had in my life… what a blessing! But that also meant that we had four full hours to wait around before we were to meet up with Celine, our program director and the woman who would bring us to our respective residences.
Long story short, we waited and waited and waited, and when the time came for her to arrive, we found that we had been waiting in the wrong place. We booked it across the airport and, thoroughly exhausted, met up with Celine and loaded our luggage into a couple of vans. It was now 12:30 p.m. in France, but 6:30 a.m. to my body, and I hadn’t really slept at all. By the time we reached Boulevard Saint-Michel, I could barely keep my eyes open.
This was the moment of truth; I was to meet my host father and see where I would be living for the next 18 weeks.
Half a day later, as I sit here in my new bed, all I can think is… Wow! I really lucked out!
M. le Divenah, my host father, welcomed me warmly and brought me to the 6th floor of the apartment building. Their apartment is breathtaking. It has so many bright windows, it’s well-decorated, and it feels spacious and homey. I got a quick tour from my host father, but he had to run back to work. This suited me perfectly, because all I really wanted was to shower, nap, and do a bit of unpacking. So that’s how I spent most of my first day. I simply adore my room. It has plenty of space, a cozy bed, and a window from which you can actually see the tippy-top of the Eiffel Tower!
Also, for those of you who don’t know the geography of Paris, let me just say that Boulevard Saint-Michel is just about as good as it gets. It’s in the heart of the Latin Quarter, which is sort of akin to NYC’s Rockefeller Center: right in the middle of the action, with tons of monuments and sightseeing locations all around it.
I eventually met the rest of my host family, minus my older brother. I had a wonderful conversation with my very smart, 14 year old sister, Annaelle, and I got to hear 16 year old Benjamin’s piano lesson. At dinner, I absolutely loved getting to know the family better. Mme le Divenah made a delicious pasta dish with eggplant and cayenne pepper, and I even became a real Frenchwoman when I had a little “gout” (taste) of cheese afterwards!
If you want to read more, or visit my blog, you can find it at: christinedoesfrance.wordpress.com. If not, check back on PPR next month for a new update!
Submitted exclusively to Pawling Public Radio