Passports

Dispatches from Abroad

Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 12:21 p.m.

Updates from Nicolas, studying in Paris

This post was written by Nicolas Diaz, who is studying abroad in Paris, France.

Photo courtesy of Nicolas Diaz.

In just four short weeks, I’ve already experienced so much during my time in Paris.

As this is my second-consecutive semester abroad, I arrived in Paris thinking I knew everything. Last spring, five months in Milan were more than enough to show me how little I knew about myself and how many challenging and enlightening experiences I had to gain.

I tried to remember that when I left for Paris at the end of the summer, and arriving in such a beautiful city was far from disappointing. My very first day in Paris reminded me of how important it is to never lose the ability to be amazed by something new.

Simply put, I’m forcing myself to step outside my comfort zone. From making the effort to meet the locals to practicing my very basic French, knowing the chances I’ll be understood are slim, I have left that comfort zone which I know can ultimately change the course of what I hope to accomplish in Paris.

Whenever I fear that leaving this comfort zone will only bring more problems, I remind myself of my semester in Milan. After starting out feeling lonely, frustrated and homesick, I knew I needed to turn it all around. With just a quick attitude adjustment, I was on the track to new friendships, memorable experiences and endless life lessons.

Whether it’s the more laid-back French pace of life or certain deficiencies of my university here, I refuse to let these simple differences phase me. Every moment I spend feeling frustrated is a moment that could be spent climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, or taking a tour of the Louvre, or even going to the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore and library where Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound spent their days while in Paris.

I wake up every morning here in Paris and continuously find it hard to believe that I’m actually living these experiences. I see the Eiffel Tower at least 10 times each day on my way to and from class, I attend Sunday mass at Notre Dame and I often meet new friends while indulging in some French wine by the Seine.

I simply could not ask for more at this point in my semester abroad. Given the absolute marvel that is Paris, I am certain I will be receiving so much more from the city I still get to call home for the next 90 days.