Reflections on first month in Paris

Allison Panetta

I had spent most of my time before going abroad one hundred percent believing that there was absolutely no way that I would be homesick. Me? Homesick? It hasn’t happened in years. Needless to say it was quite a surprise when I arrived in London and I spent my first night there in tears. I was a mess—a snotty, teary-eyed, restless mess. It was absolutely disgusting and so was my pillow. I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I was so miserable (finals).

For the first few days I just couldn’t shake that horrible feeling. I wanted to go home, but I obviously couldn’t since I was going to Paris in about a week. Eventually, I adapted to the time zone and I suddenly felt fine. I guess sleep deprivation and hunger make me emotionally unstable.
After my ten-day tour of England, I made my way to Paris. I spent my first day wandering around the 11th arrondissement, which is where my foyer is. I bought some food because I figured that would probably be a good idea. Eating is something everyone has to do. That night I went out with a few of my friends who had already arrived and I learned some very interesting things:

1. The French dance the same way I do, which is funny because when I dance I kind of make fun of how normal people dance since no one bothered to teach me how to dance well. Apparently, no one taught the French either. But their awkward dancing is serious. Needless to say, I felt pretty at home.
2. French men are much more forward than American men, and I don’t think I like that. Awkward metro encounters have started to become a theme on this trip. One thing I miss about the US is personal space and being ignored while using public transport.

After that first weekend, my program began and everything started falling into place. I’ve made plenty of friends in my foyer, most of whom who are not from the US, and plenty who are not French. I also discovered that it’s weird to only speak one and a little bit of another language since I have plenty friends here who speak at least two or three differently languages fluently. Obviously I feel a little inferior to them, but that’s okay; I’m still transcending boundaries.

I started my language and phonetics classes. These have both helped me a great deal with my French. They have also helped me to accept the fact that there are some sounds in the French language that, no matter what country you’re from, you will probably never be able to do perfectly unless you were born a francophone or you have some weird nasal disorder. I also started my part time internship at the tourism blog Gogo Paris, which is great because I get to benefit from awesome perks like free concert tickets as well as secret invitation-only events.

I do have to say, although my internship and classes are pretty interesting, the best part about my trip so far is definitely the food. Whoever says that baguettes and croissants are the best part of France clearly has never eaten macarons (not to be confused with macaroons) or pain au chocolate. I am convinced that the French government genetically engineered these two pastries as a cheap and delicious way to make almost all other desserts undesirable. That isn’t to say that I haven’t accidentally eaten an entire baguette in one sitting because that has happened on multiple occasions. I am obviously just exaggerating (no I’m not).

Despite my rocky start and several bad metro encounters, I’ve decided that France is a pretty decent place. Of course, I’ve only been here for a month so there is still plenty of time for things to get worse. If they do, that’s okay because I’m leaving in June and it’s not like it’s my money that’s paying for this— it’s my parents’ (and financial aid, which I guess is technically my money). Plus I’m ending this trip by watching Jay-Z and Kanye West’s throne, so there is no way this semester could possibly go wrong.


Categories: Global

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