Goodbye for now

In The Art of Travel, Paris, 15. Farewell, Places by Jaxx2 Comments

Though I will be studying abroad in Paris for a full year, I am sad to be leaving in a couple weeks to return to the normalcy of home life over winter break. I am excited to see my family and friends, eat food that I’ve been craving all semester, and drive, but I will miss Paris. Friends I have made here who won’t be returning feel a sense of urgency to see as much as they can that I don’t share. I want to spend time with them, so I’ll rush from museum to museum and landmark to landmark one last time together, but I’m excited for my slow walks to continue in the spring.

Much like when I leave New York to go home for break, I will miss the ease of living in a big city. Paris may not have the most reliable public transportation system, but it’s been a wild ride (sometimes literally). I’ve made many friends complaining about the RER or begging our professor to not mark us absent because there was a thirty minute delay. It’s been a source of bonding. It has also carried me from place to place easier than walking or driving could ever. Twenty minutes and I’m across town, an hour and I’m exiting approaching the French-Belgium border. Not bad at all.

I’ll miss the buttery croissants I get almost every day at the bakery near school. The thirty minutes I have between classes is just enough to grab a quick shot of espresso and a warm pastry before heading back into class. Cake in Paris is just better. Even though I made fun of the room temperature eggs when I first got here– because they are just sitting in cartons on the SHELF– I think they are responsible for the French’s mastery of baking. I’ll miss the €2.50 panini from Zoya and her sweet smile as she asks me about my day. I’ve started switching my order around, so she feels comfortable suggesting things I might like.

The views in Paris are unparalleled. I’ve seen some beautiful cities this semester– Prague, Belgium, Florence– but returning to the flowers sitting on terraces high above the street, to the cobblestoned streets, is something special. Looking out of my classroom at the Notre Dame is another experience, too. The fact that I often sat in my Art History class taking notes on how the side of the Notre Dame was constructed while looking at the Notre Dame out the window still amazes me. No matter where I go in Paris, it seems like the Eiffel Tower is just around the corner, playing a game of peekaboo with me. She’s a tease, but when she sparkles at night everyone pays attention.

Part of me will even miss the Parisiens, though I know they’ll be the same when I come back six weeks later. Someone needs to teach them about not bumping into people, not staring, and sharing their space on the subway. Other than that, they’re pretty cool. They’ve listened to my jumbled French and helped me find vocabulary words that seemed to fly from my mind for the sole purpose of embarrassing me. I’ll miss the friends I’ve made here, too, because some of them I won’t see for nine months. Studying abroad with people produces a special closeness extra fast. It’s amazing to be able to learn and explore with others.

Until January, Paris, where I’m sure your cold weather will torment me until the beauty of spring rounds the corner.

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(Image: Gazing at the Notre Dame from the Seine; Source: Jaxx Artz)

Comments

  1. Hi Jaxx,

    It’s so lovely to hear that you’ve achieved such a state of balance and optimism! While it’s bittersweet that you’ll be away from Paris over the break, it’s exciting that you have the entirety of next semester to continue to explore it and don’t have to face the pressure of having to knock all the items off of your bucket list within the next two weeks. Since I am only in Paris for a semester, I am definitely beginning to experience that sense of urgency, and I can’t help but long for more time to engage in all that this magical city has to offer.

    I relate to many of the aspects of Parisian life that you mentioned in your post, including making friends through the template of complaining about the RER and devouring delicious French pastries in the middle of the school day. Your words provide an insightful summary of what a semester here feels like and makes me feel simultaneously nostalgic and excited about the future. I hope you have a great break!

  2. Hi Jaxx,
    While the end of the semester seems to be bittersweet for you, it’s nice that you have the piece of mind that you will be returning to Paris soon. I definitely wish that I were studying abroad for a year sometimes instead of the semester. I also can relate to a lot of the things you’ve mentioned about Parisians in general, and the spots that we frequent in the Latin Quarter because of campus. I definitely will miss the croissants next door, and agree that Parisians train etiquette is not great. I’ve also found it amazing that i’ve made such close friends in such a short time, and it burdens me that we’ll all have to part ways soon. I hope the spring semester in Paris is just as rewarding for you.

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