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Paris, je t’aime: Letter from abroad

by Tiffany Lafleur February 11, 2014
Paris, je t’aime: Letter from abroad

Hey Concordia, I hope you’re enjoying the snow. As I write this, it’s currently seven degrees and sunny outside.

Photo by Moyan Brenn

By the time this comes to print, it will have been one month and a few days since I stepped off Air Transat flight TS110, direct from Montreal to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. One month has passed since I uprooted and moved across an ocean.

I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, visited a small section of the Louvre, and climbed to the top of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe. All of these landmarks that have appeared in countless tourism brochures and History Channel documentaries are now within walking distance.

I like it here. The city has a constant bustle, a humming that never stops. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve stumbled upon a statue or a church tucked away between apartment buildings. Everywhere you look, there are hidden treasures to be found. Everything has a story. It’s a constant battle to both admire the architecture above and, at the same time, look down at the cobblestone streets. And although they are very nice to look at, the main concern when walking

around is stepping in dog poop, as Parisian law does not require dog owners to clean it up. Yuck.

Even so, every day is an adventure. In one month, I’ve witnessed three major protests in these streets, and that’s not counting the ones I’ve heard from afar.

Things are so different here, yet I see reflections of home in these Parisian streets. Walking down boulevard Saint-Germain, I feel like I’m back in Montreal, walking along Saint Catherine Street. Although I don’t really consider myself a tourist, I don’t consider myself a local yet either. I don’t know if I ever really will, but for now this is my home, my city.

I think the strangest thing I’ve had to adapt to here would be seeing grass in January/February instead of a white blanket of snow. It was quite the culture shock when I stepped off the plane. That, and the insanely overzealous administration procedures here. Getting a fidelity card to the closest market was an extremely tedious process. I needed a secret code and a pin number.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss home sometimes. For all that can be said of Montreal, it is a friendly place.

The locals pick up on my accent right away here, whether I speak English or French.

At my school, Sciences Po Paris, there are people attending from all around the world. The school itself is an international one, and all students must spend at least a year abroad. I’ve met students from Australia, Scotland, China, the US, and a surprising amount of Canadians, mostly Montrealers.

Although, I haven’t dared to exit the city just yet, my spring break will be spent traveling through Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Everything is so close here that planning where I want to go next is almost difficult .

Although I miss Montreal and poutine week, Paris is a pretty good stand-in.

 

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