Expectations of Paris

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It’s real! It only became real very recently…as I am now on the airplane and only 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Paris. I’ve spent the first few hours of my flight eating great food (kudos to Delta for the delicious dinner and breakfast, with healthy options, perfect portions, and my all-time favorite Biscoff cookies). I watched The Intern in French to get the French language gears moving again in my head. I’m currently listening to Brigitte “A Bouche que veux-tu” while writing. With reality sinking in, I finally feel excited. I’ve spent months preparing for my trip. From deciding whether I want to learn French, to studying basic French for the past six months, to undergoing the visa process, to packing from South Carolina to Michigan to now France, I am grateful to say that my trip has arrived! I will be studying in Paris at France Langue from now until April. I look forward to sharing my Parisienne insights on inspirNational!

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My Delta flight view!

What are my expectations of myself in Paris? 

To grow bigger eyes and ears. I will be looking at every scene, every interaction and cultural event in front of me. I will be listening attentively to every word, every street sound, and every action in Paris to fully be able to learn the French language and how to be French.

To sit at cafes and “people watch.” I am envisioning spending afternoons between classes eating a chocolate filled croissant, drinking espresso out of a tiny porcelain cup (according to American standards), and watching stylishly dressed people walking past me. This expectation is partly based on reality, as I experienced this in Paris during a Trafalgar tour in 2011. It is also the dream I’ve had about actually living in Paris.

To appreciate the finer things in life. Based on my understanding of French luxuries, small but high quality portions of food, among other things, I am guessing that I will learn to appreciate having less, but better quality things in my life. Rather than ten purses, I may have only one, for example, such as Louis Vuitton (or as that just wishful thinking ;))? I expect to go shopping at stores that are beyond my budget, including the latest cutting edge fashion stores, best international cuisine restaurants, bakeries, and perfumeries. To me, French business automatically has a stamp of luxury and high quality, but also high prices. I’ll be curious to see if my expectations are reality.

To become Parisienne. This may be optimistic, but I believe it is possible! I’m excited to live and breathe the French culture. I will be living with a French host family in the 16th district. I look forward to learning from them – the father is an ENT surgeon, the mother is a WWF director, and they have four children, one of whom lives with them. I have heard that their neighborhood is one of the wealthiest in Paris, so this will provide me with an interesting perspective. Friends have warned me that Parisiennes may be cold to me because I am not French, but I am going to challenge myself to blend in, be respectful, and use French as much as possible to hopefully have positive interactions with the Parisiennes. I am hoping that the homestay will help bridge the gap between being a tourist and being a local in France.

For those of you have lived in France, what was it like living there and do you have any advice as I begin my journey? Merci et bon voyage!

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