I was initially nervous to look forward to Paris. I was certain that if I had positive expectations, then the city would let me down. Thankfully, I was very wrong. Paris was incredible. Our first night there, we ate at a Samoan grille (super random and a bit lackluster), but we immediately followed dinner with an evening boat tour. We didn’t have any lectures during our stay, but we did have assignments to complete. At this point in the trip, the promising adventure of exploring a city always trumped schoolwork and I consequently didn’t sleep more than 4 hours per night. My friends and I walked all over the city, exploring the endless shops, finding delicious treats, and occasionally getting lost. Despite typically hating public transportation, I ended up loving the Paris metro and became fairly comfortable using it by the end of the trip.
As I would find out later in life (while living in the city to complete my masters degree), Paris really is magical. Of course the city has its faults, but in my opinion, they are far outweighed by its beauty. We had lots of free time to tour the city during our stay, which was wonderful. On our third day, our free time overlapped with the first day of vacation in the city for my aunt, uncle, and cousins. Seeing familiar faces in an unfamiliar place gave me so much joy and renewed my energy to continue traveling. I acted as an informal tour guide for my family, pointing out all of the interesting museums, shops, and monuments that I had discovered just two days earlier. Also, it was pretty wonderful to be treated to lunch, given a hug, and spend time with people who love me!
The Eiffel Tower sparkling every night. Falafel from L’As Du Fallafel in Le Marais. Navigating the metro on my own. Place de la Concorde. Climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile and looking down on the twelve avenues. Repetto dance store. Touring the Palace of Versailles (although we didn’t have enough time to wander the gardens). Navigating my family members around the city. Macarons from Ladurée. Ronnie circling our coach around the Arc de Triumph like a madman. Enjoying the Musée de Louvre (although the Mona Lisa was a bit of a disappointment). Berthillon ice cream, cheese, croissants.
There are far too many remarkable things about my first experience in Paris, all of which compete with my memories from the year I lived in the “City of Light.” I am unable to disconnect the idea of Paris from my master’s program and therefore cannot pick out anything specifically remarkable except to say: I would not have moved to the city with confidence, if my Parisian experience with IBI hadn’t been as amazing as it was. The ease of transportation, English fluency, delicious food, mostly kind public encounters, gorgeous scenery, endless educational opportunities, beautiful monuments, and an air of sophistication mesmerized me and I’ve had nothing but positive feelings towards the city since my first bonjour!