Harnessing Fear in Search of Spontenaeity

In 1. Greetings, The Art of Travel, Paris by SaranshLeave a Comment

Bonjour, everyone! My name is Saransh and I am a junior at NYU Gallatin concentrating in Cultural Entrepreneurship, a study of the ways in which global pop culture drives decisions on the individual and societal levels and how this framework can be applied to brand development in art and commerce. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and consider India to be a second home. Music, writing, and food are undoubtedly my three favorite things.

I began taking French classes in seventh grade and continued my course of study throughout high school. My love of the language seemed to swell with each new opportunity; by graduation, I had written creatively in French, conducted extensive research on Francophone countries, and performed French songs as a vocalist on numerous occasions. On the brink of fluency, I felt as though spending a semester in Paris at a later point in my college career was inevitable.

My first two years in New York City thrust me into a whirlwind of formative experiences which shaped and altered my trajectory. Focusing on my passion for developing a career in the music business, taking classes in disciplines I had yet to explore, and involving myself in a slew of campus activities meant that I had less room in my schedule for foreign language as expected. As a result, my language ability wavered without the support of daily practice. My priorities changed, and a world that once meant so much to me seemed to fade into the background.

Study abroad functions like an oasis in a harsh desert for many—an escape from the taxing NYC atmosphere that requires a sense of constant grit and motion from each of its inhabitants. However, as my sophomore year came to a close, I didn’t want to flee anything—I loved the city more than anywhere I’d ever known and was perfectly content to continue to exist in a space where I was sure I would thrive. While friends around me seemed to increasingly radiate their buoyant anticipation for relocating to international havens, I felt reluctant to let go of an environment that I finally felt so comfortable in. Moving from home to college had invigorated me plenty; hadn’t I already done my fair share of conquering the challenge of relocation and assimilation?

My inclination towards stagnancy was borne out of fear. I was scared to go abroad because I hadn’t taken a French class in two years. I was scared to go abroad because I would be at a site devoid of close friends, detached from routine. I was scared to go abroad because I was scared to confront the unknown.

Of all my diverse identities, I am predominantly a global citizen, and to deny myself of a unique opportunity which I had once fantasized about would be to contradict my fundamental values and the very core of my academic concentration. Despite my temporary and somewhat complacent concerns, I knew deep down that I was meant to live in Paris. So, at last, on the eve of the study abroad application deadline, I hit the submit button that brought me here today. I did not feel ready. But readiness is often an idealistic goal.

In New York, I have a tendency to micromanage my life. I am a lover of perpetual to-do lists and five-year plans. I crave control, even amidst cacophony. When things take me by surprise, I often don’t know how to react. Of course, moving across the globe does not fit within this framework—that is precisely why I believe I made the right choice.

I am in Paris because I want to immerse myself in the French culture which I’ve adored for nearly a decade. But primarily, I am here because I want to foster a sense of spontaneity in my life. I want to know what it means to live in the moment. I want to sit on the river Seine for hours at a time, café au creme in hand, without torturing myself over internship applications or early morning call times or conversations gone awry. I want to learn extensively about things I’m passionate about, like how music and pop culture might interact in the most popular tourist destination in the world. Even more so, I want to learn about things that I know absolutely nothing about, like the antiquated and intricate sculptures which frame the entrance to the Notre Dame. I am sure that this adjustment will feel counterintuitive more often than not. But why else would I travel? The world has more to offer than my intuition. I am but one person in a universe that expands each and every day.

The fear which once held me back has become my most vital asset. It keeps me on my toes and demands more of me than I knew I could muster. The path ahead of me is woefully unclear, but this lack of clarity will undoubtedly lead me to the sweetest of discoveries. The copious amounts of bread, wine and cheese that I’ll surely consume along the way won’t hurt either.

Today, my unease and my excitement are one and the same.

(Image: Au Musée Du Louvre; Source: Saransh Desai-Chowdhry)

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