These past 189 days have been some of the best and worst days of my life. The whole experience overall has been amazing. Having the opportunity to live abroad has opened my eyes and made me see things from 8 new angles. Things in France (and Europe) are so different than the USA. When I first got to Paris and there were no elevators anywhere I was like WHAT!!! I have to use the stairs?!?!?! SO. MANY. STAIRS. The climate was different. The people were different. The smells were different.
Although it was an unpleasant experience for the first month because I had nowhere to live and little to no help finding housing, when I finally found it I was quite happy. It was my first time living on my own, and I got to do it in another continent. I do, however, appreciate all my parents do much more now. I hated having to go down and buy groceries (which by the way do not last as long since there is little to no hormones and crap put into the food) and then walking back up with a huge heavy sack of food. Not a fun time. Paying rent also wasn’t fun. Specially because the ladies that worked in the building were really rude and treated me like I was stupid. But that’s French people for you, the think they are the bomb.com so everyone is below them. Pfft.
I quite liked not having to drive anywhere. If I was tired on the way to school in the morning, I could just take a nap on the train. Coming home at night super tired I could just sleep until I got to my station and then I had the energy to make it home. That was all very nice. BUT. It was inconvenient when the RATP or SNCF decided that they wanted to go on a strike and the trains would be delayed or just not come (which got me fired) and it sucked that there was absolutely no way for me to get anywhere without public transportation. My favorite were all the colis suspects that would delay the trains for a while .that was a fun time. And on the weekends when you were having loads of fun with your friends it hit midnight and you were like “ok time to catch that last train.” I do miss driving and having control of when I leave a place. But enough of that.
The one thing I will not miss (pas de tout) are the people. As I stated above they SWEAR they are the shit and above everyone in the world so they look down on you or are hyper rude when (if) they answer your questions. The worst of all though are the men. The men in Paris are the sketchiest people I have ever met in my life. They look at you like they are devouring you in their mind (which they are. ALWAYS) and they will stop at nothing to make your skin crawl. They relentlessly hit on you in the most disgusting manner possible. They don’t speak French, they speak cat call. You are minding your own business, walking along and they feel the need to go out of their way to ask if you are single or to say “yummm” and it’s like do you hear yourself? Who the hell is that going to attract? And it does not matter if you tell them you have a boyfriend, husband, wife, girlfriend, if you are into animals or into nothing, they continue to say all this nasty stuff to you. If you ignore them, they follow you for a bit. If you reply they just continue. And no, I am NOT exaggerating this. I wish I was.
There have been quite a few times (many more than I care to admit) that I seriously questioned if going abroad had been a good idea. The start of this whole this was most definitely very rough. Having always lived chez my parents, not seeing them for such a long time was hyper bizarre. I didn’t like that when I was having a bad day I couldn’t just run down the hall and go hug my mom. That seriously sucked. And the times I was sick (in other words, the entire trip) my mom wasn’t there to love me back to health. Being an adult SUCKS. There was actually a good 2 full weeks when I seriously considered finding a way to go back home as soon as classes ended. I didn’t even care anymore. I am glad, very glad, that I pulled myself together and stuck it out, because the good times totally outweigh the crappy ones.
I knew that going abroad was going to open me up to new experiences, but I didn’t really know what that really meant. I figured new foods and being a grown up, but it was much more than that. I slept on the floor outside a friend’s door, on the couches in a Starbucks, I peed in a tunnel (sorry parentals) and also in a bush (again, sorry), I built a snowman and had a snowball fight, I partied (hard) on the metro [TWICE], I took shots with strangers (thanks Welly),I fell in and out of love (not necessarily in that order), i thought I was going to be kidnapped, I sang karaoke in a bar, I reconnected with family I hadn’t seen in years, and so much more. Never in a million years could I have thought that all that would come out of this trip. I figured I would make some friends and go to school. Paris BLEW my expectations right out of the water.
Now, would I do it again? Yes* (some restrictions apply). I would not come back with the same program, I would try to find housing before getting here instead of a month in, I would ask a crap load more question regarding schools and classes because I most definitely got screwed, I would save up a whole lot more money and I would get a job since the get go. That would make the ride a bit smoother than it was this time.
Would I live there? HELL NO. Paris is nice to visit, but honestly six months is way more than enough. I would not make that my permanent residence. Things are so expensive, and so depressingly grey, I can’t see myself living there. If I had to go back for a long period of time I would make sure it wouldn’t be for more than six months and it would have to be a must, for like work or school. I loved the experience I had but, thanks, but pas thanks. I would, however, go back and visit for a few weeks.
And on that note:
France, thank you for this amazing experience and à bientôt.