I’m here, I’m here, I’m back! I landed in Paris right on schedule. It to me about 24 hours of travel but I am finally settled in Paris (until I leave again tomorrow!) My flight to Stockholm was delayed but I made my connection no problem. The long flight I hardly slept but then during the 2 hour flight I was out like a rock, which was weird because the Stockholm-Paris plane was filled with screaming children. The time at O’Hare seemed to pass by, especially because I got to witness all of the French and Icelandic Harley fans show up to the airport in their Milwaukee biker gear on their way back to Europe. This might have been one of the biggest culture shocks I have EVER had. I honestly could not believe my eyes- there is such thing as a French biker crowd.
Despite my determinedness to pack one suitcase under 50 lbs., I ended up checking a second bag. I don’t regret anything about it (except having to pay $135!) I ended up getting through the metros in Paris pretty smoothly- i never got lost!! Even better, one man helped me carry my large suitcase up a set of stairs. Otherwise i am so glad I lift weights and am in shape because that was crazy hard to haul 2 suitcases and a backpack through three different metro stations and various flights of stairs (luckily all but one went down!).
I am going to debunk everything about the stereotype of French people being rude right now, because I met the most genuine French people today; it was unbelievable. First of all, my friend Marou is allowing me to stay in her apartment (merci Marou!!!) and her boyfriend Koni has been nothing but hospitable–I really am quite lucky! Second, not only did a French man carry my large suitcase for me up a large, steep set of metro steps, but another helped me lift my suitcase into the metro car as the door was closing. A young woman helped me get my suitcases through the metro when my ticket was deactivated (more on my story as a metro fugitive later!) Even better, a young man around my age actually helped me talk with Koni on the phone and then proceeded to walk with me to the apartment where I am staying, just to make sure I didn’t get more lost (I wandered around for about 20 minutes today before he asked if I needed help!) Then, the neighbor girl helped me with the key because I couldn’t get the door unlocked to save my life. It took me about 5 minutes to climb 5 flights of stairs with a 55 pound suitcase but it is encouraging to know I won’t have to do that again.
By this time it was already 16h30 (my body thinking it was 9h00), and I showered and repacked my smaller suitcase for Normandy. Then I went out to explore the neighborhood, which is fabulous. I bought a temporary SIM Card for my phone, I bought all of my train tickets (separate post on that later!), and I bought some bread from the local boulangerie. Oh, and I did all of this in French.
Readers, I am SO happy to be here. Even though I am 4000+ miles away from home, my family, my friends, and everything familiar to me, nothing has felt more right than this. I just love Paris and France; its beauty, its diversity, its history, its culture. It’s so wonderful. And everyone speaking French around me just feels so NORMAL; my French comprehension has improved astronomically. I can read every street sign, eavesdrop in every conversation, read the various billboards and advertisements on the metro, order food at a restaurant, buy train tickets, talk on the phone, carry on a conversation, ask questions. II am not nervous to start or carry on conversations in French. This makes me feel SO good (and even more excited to know I am only going to get BETTER and more fluent during these next nine months.) The only annoying part has been when I start speaking in French and then someone responds to me in English (this has happened THREE times today!!)
Walking down the street with a baguette in hand– I am definitely back in Paris. 🙂
Tomorrow I head to Normandy, to reunite with old friends and to rekindle a previous life.
Hope you all had a fabulous first day of school!