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.