March 4th, 2018
“A walk in Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life”–Thomas Jefferson
To be honest, today might not be the best day to travel to Paris. Philadelphia has just seen its largest snow storm of the year, and in Paris, it started raining. So, I started my 42 hr day by worrying about whether my flight would be cancelled like those of my fellow classmates were the day before. When I finally boarded the 7-hour flight, I worried my French skills wouldn’t be able to hold up enough for me to survive in Paris, whether my horrible navigation skills would get me lost in the meandering streets of Paris, and whether I would get along with my host family and my classmates. Yet, when my plane landed at the Charles de Gaulle airport, a strange, warm force began to calm my racing heart down a little by little. A really small yet comforting voice whispered, “Tout sera mieux.”
Truly, everything did become better. My host family came to the airport to pick me up and we road back to the central city on RER (my first time on a French metro train, check). We conversed casually during the ride and during lunch. My French is holding up to the test so much better than I expected and my host family is more kind and welcoming than I could describe with words. They would teach me new vocabulary, phrases, and slang, correct my little grammatical and pronunciation mistakes, repeat and paraphrase when I don’t understand, and they even gave me a thick stack of tourist guides, pamphlets, and maps to help me plan my stay in Paris.
After an extremely delicious and relaxing lunch, I decided to scout out the classroom where I will take class for the next three weeks and to take advantage of the free admission at the Louvre Museum the first Sunday of every month from November to March. My host family lived in the Quartier Latin (the best district to live in for culture lovers) on the left bank of the Seine, right around the famous Sorbonne, the oldest university in France (the Quartier gets its name from the language of instruction, Latin, of the prestigious university in the Middle Ages). Because of my convenient location, I decided to take a walk in the rain instead of taking a bus and a métro again. After all, Paris is rated the best city for a promenade.
Rain dripping from the parapluie, feet tapping on the cobble road, eyes wandering, nose taking in the fresh air washed by the rain, heart filled with indescribable bliss, I started to find my pace among the Parisian streets. I loved how nobody seems to be in a great rush, nor trying to procrastinate. I loved how any unintentional picture of a random corner of the road gives off an unaffected elegance and beauty. At Paris, no one is trying to imitate someone or to be someone they are not. Yet, everyone and everything strives to become their best selves, and thus, the city is collectively striking, irreplaceable, and free. A promenade along Paris’ streets lets me see the history and beauty of the Latin Quarter and the Seine, gets me to my destination, the Louvre Museum, but most importantly, moves me to find my own rhythm and my true self.