An American in Paris

This past weekend I spent two days in “The City of Love”. Despite the extremely uncomfortable bus ride, and almost no sleep, I still had high hopes for the short holiday. Unfortunately, my hopes were about to be greatly disappointed.

I know, you’re probably thinking, “You’re in PARIS. How could it NOT be everything you were expecting?” And you would not be the only one in thinking this. Paris is a beautiful city, as long as you are looking up at the magnificent architecture on every corner. Look down where you are walking however, and you will realize that the streets, and even the very air you are breathing, is incredibly distasteful. If you’re lucky, you might even see a man peeing under a tree, as there is no law prohibiting it. The pouring rain, which rarely stopped during our stay, accented this environment even more.

Paris has a sense of aristocracy that I have yet to find in London. While London is very posh, but friendly and helpful for the most part, Paris is like that blonde girl in high school that you couldn’t stand because she always wore designer labels and looked down her nose at you. By Paris’s terms, I would be considered a peasant. My extremely rough and inelegant attempts to speak French and find my way around, was not appreciated or encouraged, despite the Parisians insistence not to speak English. While some may say that is just the “French pride” I consider it, quite frankly, just being an asshat. I won’t go into the countless stories I gained of both rude and very strange people, only that I have many to tell when I come back to the U.S. But, after all, that’s what this study abroad is all about: Stories.

In an effort not to completely hate on France, I found the Louvre and the food excellent. I could have spent all day in the Louvre and still have not seen everything, and the buildings had amazing statues and carvings, unparalleled to anything else I’ve seen. I’m sure that if one has the money, would could find plenty of things to do in Paris; the drawback is if you are poor, then there is nothing.

The bus ride home was a relief, and much more comfortable than the one going to Paris. Perhaps the journey there should have been my first clue. As I entered England, I immediately felt back at home; I am in love with the wide, green, rolling hills and the little farms and brick houses. When I stepped off the bus and into a taxi, the driver’s “Hello lovey”, felt like a hug. London has truly captured my heart.

Delicious wine on our first night out 
The Eiffel Tower lit up is a sight to see
“The Crew” on our last night in Paris–Valentine’s Day! 
Bad picture of me, but Mona looks good
The famous Lock Bridge. I put a lock up myself. 🙂
Lovely looking Macaroons, at an adorable though quite pricey shop. Also with a rude manager

Home is where the…

This past weekend, against my valiant attempts not to, I came down with a cold. It was nothing to cry over, just your regular sore throat and sniffles, but I began to feel homesick all over again. As I’m in the beginning of week 3 in London, I’ve started to feel truly at home. Taking the Tube has become second nature, classes are routine and enjoyable, and the refectory food is decent, if not always what is desired. I’m feeling so comfortable in fact, that the idea of studying in New Hampshire again is sounding distasteful. I don’t want to leave!

But despite London’s charisma, it does have one major drawback: I can’t go home when I’m sick. I can’t jump in a car and drive home for a relaxing weekend in my own bed where my mother brings me tea and soup, and I watch Netflix and sleep all day. I am living in a place that has a giant ocean separating me from my friends, my parents, my boyfriend, and my comfortable familiarity. Is this what adulting is all about?

By Sunday, I was feeling much better, and spent the afternoon browsing a bookstore and drinking tea. My sentimental feelings for home disappeared, and I began to love London again. But my heart feels divided between my love for this wonderful city and all she offers, and my hometown, that somehow provides a comfort that I have yet to find elsewhere. It makes me wonder if this is occurring because I have never been this far away from home before, or if it’s just a fact of reality that your true home will be where you grew up. Or, perhaps home is where you are with the people you love.

Trying to get a good pic with the swan at the pond near Regent’s.
Tea and a chocolate tart.