By: Emily Gries
I first visited Paris when I was sixteen and traveling with a school tour group. I can’t say that I loved Paris, or even liked it after my three-day stay. I was nervous using my French speaking skills, the crowds made me anxious, and I was petrified to get lost using the metro system. Four years later when making the decision about where to study abroad, it was my mom who encouraged me to give Paris another chance, convinced I would love my experience. As it turns out, my mom (once again) was right.
Living in Paris was a world different than observing it as a tourist. As a temporary Parisian, I got to truly experience the day-to-day life of living in a large, modern city grounded in history and culture. Each morning when I took the metro to class, I interacted with the “real” Parisians and bit by bit, felt more comfortable and more and more like I belonged. The tipping point for me was when several American tourists mistook me as a native and asked me for directions to the “Notre Dame” (pronounced like the American university).
Every day spent in Paris was one that exposed me to art, architecture, literature, music, the amazing people that call the city home, and the simply stunning beauty of la vie parisienne.
Paris made me more confident in my abilities to live independently, to navigate a large, foreign city, and of course, to speak French more fluently. Paris taught me to slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures, from savoring a cup of coffee en terrasse each morning, to strolling through the winding and ancient streets.
Paris gave me some of my most treasured experiences, memories, and friendships.
An iconic city with its share of joy and tragedy, I came to understand and appreciate Paris in a way I never would have believed possible as a sixteen-year-old tourist.
Put simply, I came to love Paris, its people, and how it changed me during my short time as a parisienne.
Paris, tu me manques. Paris, je t’aime.