My first four days in Paris have been a mixture of exciting, informative, stressful, and awe-inspiring. Let’s start at the beginning: my flight to Paris was set to depart Tuesday, but due to thunderstorms in Eastern Pennsylvania and New York, I spent most of the day on the phone with my airline, frantically changing reservations and trying to combat the delays and cancellations that were sweeping across the northeast. In the end, the thunderstorms had prevailed and I tried my luck again on Wednesday—this time with success! After a sleepless flight full of excitement and nervousness, I was arriving in Paris at 5:00 am local time on Thursday.
I was immediately stuck by how empty Charles de Gaulle airport was, and how quickly I got through customs. Twenty minutes after deboarding my plane, I was buying my ticket for the train that would take me to the city. After spending an hour on the train and getting a little lost on the way too my host family, I had arrived at my new home! My hostess gave me a warm welcome and showed me around her charmingly petite apartment as well as the surrounding neighborhood.
The next few days were spent attending my program orientation, exploring the city, enjoying Paris’s delicious food, and adapting to the new environment. I have begun learning the metro, which I have found to be extremely easy and efficient, and will play a huge role in both my internship commute, and my continued exploration of the city. I have spent some time observing interactions and I feel that I have already learned a great deal about how the French interact and communicate, but I know that there is still much for me to learn in order to better blend into the culture.
Despite the nearly perfect weather and beautiful sites I have seen so far, I have also found the adjustment to French culture to be stressful at times. For one, the French speak very fast and use a lot of familiar terms when speaking casually. It has been very different from the classroom setting and I have found myself stumbling over my words on multiple occasions. I believe this will be one of my biggest challenges for the duration of my stay in Paris, both at my internship and outside of work. However, I recognize that this struggle is an important step in the process of learning the language and culture.
So far, it is evident that Paris has a lot to offer and I can only hope to scratch the surface during my time here.