At my school students arrive every Monday and leave every Friday, and as a result, there are constantly people coming and going. The longer you stay, the more friends you make, but also the more friends you say goodbye to. Yesterday Carolina and I brought Jerry to the train station because he was going back home to Zurich. Even though we had been friends for hardly more than a week, it was really tough saying goodbye. Sometimes you meet people, and you’re instantly close friends. That’s how it was for us, and it was sad not knowing the next time the three of us would be together. I know I’ll have to get used to this, since dozens of people will enter and leave my life in the next few months, but it’s hard to think that I might make close friendships and then never see those people again. On the bright side, making friends from so many different countries will give me excuses to travel more, and I know I’ll have people to host me wherever I go in the world.
Carolina and I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Saint-Germain. We wanted to eat lunch at a real French restaurant, not the ones for tourists…but since neither of us are French, we weren’t really sure the difference. So we went into a soap and lotion store to ask the woman what restaurant she would recommend in Saint-Germain with truly French cuisine. I suggest doing this in any new city you visit. I always prefer to see beyond the tourist sights (although those are fun too), but part of exploring a new city is experiencing its genuine culture. Plus, at the restaurant we were having a conversation, albeit a broken conversation, in french with our waiter. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what I’m saying, but just the fact that I’m speaking French makes me happy. It’s incredible to think that I’m becoming able to really communicate with people in a different language. For people who are bilingual and trilingual it might not seem like such a big deal, but for me, it is a big deal!
In the evening, we ate nutella crepes by the Eiffel Tower…so I’m doing my mix of tourist-y and non-tourist-y activities! I haven’t been to the top yet, and the line was ridiculously long Saturday night, but that’s definitely something I need to do soon. We also wanted to see the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées at night, so we went there after the Eiffel Tower. Paris at night is an entirely different kind of beautiful than Paris by day, not any more or less, just different, but it’s truly magical.
This morning, I finally went to the Marché Bastille, which I’ve wanted to do since I arrived! Because there are so many students living in my host family and in order to maintain an organized system, we each buy our own food, label it, and then respect what isn’t ours. So I was eager to buy fresh food for great prices. Venders also sell meat, fish, cheese, and clothing, but I was mostly excited about the fresh fruit, bread, and jam. And of course the croissants! I ate a croissant aux amandes (almond croissant), and it was perfectly delicious.
After the Bastille Market, I saw Alison (my sister), who was in Paris for the weekend. We could hardly believe that we were both here in Paris at the same time. We walked around the Tuileries and down the banks of Seine, and simply enjoyed the beauty of Paris with each other after two months apart. Next week, my parents are coming to visit, and Alison is coming back to Paris a few days earlier than them, so we’ll have Thursday and Friday to explore the city together. Although I am making friends and have seen a lot of Paris both with my new friends and alone, it’s always comforting to explore a city with someone who has the same taste as you. It’s hard to find friends who have the same preferences as you, who like the same activities, food, and stores as you, and who would be adventurous to take a wrong turn just to see more of the city. I know it’ll be a relief to explore Paris with Alison because even though we have our differences, we are still sisters and naturally will be in sync discovering Paris together.
After saying goodbye to Alison, it was still relatively early, and the thought of returning back to my suburb when the Paris nightlife was just waking up was honestly depressing. The Pompidou Centre, the modern art museum of Paris, stays open until 10 pm on Sundays, so I chose that as my destination. I didn’t have too much time to spend there, and I’ll definitely have to go back again, but it was worthwhile, especially since I took an audio guide in French and was content to practice. I had felt guilty that I’d been in Paris for two weeks already and still hadn’t been to an art museum. Art is very important to me, and appreciating the art of a city is essential to understanding its culture; therefore I’m antsy to get myself to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. Even though I’m here for seven months, it’s important that I don’t tell myself I’ll do that next week, I still have time, because soon I won’t have time, and it would be such a shame to find myself in June having not done many of the things I wanted to. My goal is to see absolutely all there is to see and do absolutely everything there is to do in Paris, and if you tell me that that is impossible, I’ll shush you and eat a crêpe.