This post was written by Ashley Carufel, who is studying abroad in Paris, France.
Having a bad time in Paris would require a conscious effort. I swear this city must inherently forbid its visitors from feeling anything except grateful euphoria. My time here has been such an evolving wave of new experiences and overwhelming beauty that I cannot imagine my college career without this past month and a half.
At the end of summer, I drafted up a wish list of things I wanted to do in Paris. While I’ve been hacking away at that list, many of my most memorable experiences were things I never even considered.
A few short weeks ago, I signed up to volunteer at a local fashion show—not just any show, but official Paris Fashion Week. A few days later – clad in the only black clothes I brought with me-, I was a hostess seating guests at a French designer’s show for his new spring line. As a volunteer, I was assigned a section and a seating chart, and was instructed to seat guests according to the code of their invitations—easier said than done when everyone wants to sit in the front row. Though it was chaotic and stressful, I did have the French editorial staff of “Elle” and “Vanity Fair” in my section. My closest brush with fame came in the form of some obscure French actor whose only film I recognized was one of the “Mr. Bean” movies.
In exploring the city, I have learned that anything that draws a line of people waiting is worth investigation. Parisians do not wait for much of anything, so a line is a sure sign of greatness. This one crepe stand in the Latin Quarter has the most delicious and affordable lunch deal, and I drew stares as I unconsciously moaned while inhaling one of their ham and cheese crepes just recently.
My French has improved as well, and I have noticed my accent becoming slightly more convincing. I was blown away one day on the metro when someone ask me for directions, and I effortlessly spurted out the correct route in French. Of course whenever I start to get too confident, a native speaker with their rapid-fire French sends me right back to my default French sentence: “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French very well.”
As the midterm season winds down, I am very excited to start my marathon of European travels. I’ll be visiting London over Halloween weekend and Rome over Thanksgiving weekend. I know that traveling will only make this semester go by even faster, and I’m sad to realize how little time I already have left. As much as I have always loved living in D.C., I feel there is still so much of Paris left to soak up before I can leave my city of wonders.