I’ve been in Paris a little over a week now and what a week it’s been. I wanted to wait to post until I had enough [positive things] to say. My first week in Paris can be summed up in one word: overwhelming. It’s been orientation week for my program and it’s consisted of a lot of stress and a lot of French.
I went from not speaking or hearing one word of French to being thrown into countless presentations all in French and the expectation to always speak French. It’s been unbelievably overwhelming and every day is a new struggle. Every day brings a new wave of “I can’t do this.” Especially given the fact that I feel so overwhelmed and I haven’t even started classes yet.
Besides the language and the process of choosing classes stressing me out, I want to talk about the positives that I’ve experienced since I moved to Paris.
First of all is my new (literal) home. I’m living in an apartment in the 11th arrondissement with a couple with grown children. Everything about this has been great. The arrondissement isn’t touristy and has a ton of cafes and bakeries nearby. Plus it’s near three metro stations making my commute fairly easy. Every time I go anywhere, I see so many different places I want to go to and I’ve even started making a list on my phone.
In addition to the location, my host family is wonderful. They’re two of the nicest people I’ve ever met and have been so accommodating and patient with me (both of them speaking very little English). When I signed up for this program, I chose to live in a dorm and because of space issues I was placed with a family. I was so disappointed when I found out, but now I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I would even go as far as to recommend to others studying abroad to seriously consider doing a homestay rather than a dorm.
As for Paris itself, I haven’t gotten to see that much of it, but what I have seen has been great. The city is just as beautiful as I always imagined. As part of my orientation I got to take a walking tour around the city (seeing Notre Dame and the Louvre among others), take a cruise along the Seine, and go to the Army Museum and Napoleon’s tomb. All of these were great experiences and I’m really glad I got to see them all.
The walking tour wasn’t my favorite because it was long, we didn’t see that much, and it was led by a history professor so there was a lot of history incorporated, which could be interesting but given it was in French and three hours long, it just wasn’t. The cruise was great, but very very cold. We were sitting on the top level of the boat which was not covered. That being said I got to see some great views. Napoleon’s tomb was my favorite and I will without a doubt go back to the Army Museum.
It’s taken me so long to write about my arrival in Paris because there’s been a lot of struggling. It’s hard to see the good things about something when you’re as stressed and overwhelmed as I’ve been. But once I start classes and have a routine, I’m hoping those feelings go away.