Paris: a city for a romantic, or a romanticizer?

September 26, 2018

by Aubrey Donisch

It had gotten to the point of the evening where I had become engulfed in the exhaustion of the travel day, the newness of the city, and the chaos of the language-shift. We had been walking walking walking, and dinner was still a few hours away (because the French eat dinner at any point from 8pm-11pm), and the bustling streets were all beginning to look the same to my ridiculously weary eyes. And then, we turned the corner.

The Place de la Concorde was truly…glowing under the churning cloudy sky, and we all sort of seemed to, come alive within it all. Bubbly laughter, the kind that translates to “can you believe this?” helped us to forget our bodies for a second and remember just exactly where we were.

So, I’ve read about Paris. I’ve seen pictures. I’ve sat in lectures about Haussmann and the Revolution(s), the music, the food, the culture (we’ll talk about the language later on), but there have been a few moments in this first week that just kind of…snuck up on me.

  • Finding myself face-to-face with the Louvre Pyramid
  • Staring up at the stained glass of Notre Dame
  • Riding no-hands for one (1) second on a bike near le Centre Pompidou
  • And turning my head to the left for a moment on the Metro 6 toward Nation only to see la Tour Eiffel, just casually being herself as always.

I would classify myself as a romantic, and thus la Ville de l’amour seems to be the perfect place for me. The thing is, I have no trouble romanticizing the ideas of the places I live in, from the soybean fields of the Midwest to the sycamores of the East Coast (not so different, those), I pinpoint the ideal and expect myself to live it. I’m talking care-free French conversations with strangers walking the Seine or in a café sipping my drink wearing a beret whilst the Tour Eiffel sparkles in the sky and Edith Piaf plays in the distance. I mean, maybe not to that extreme, but you know.

The bad habit of romanticizing comes from the desire for of 24/7 gratification and contentedness. Different, I think, than optimism, and also impossible. I want to preface this semester-long blog with the expectation for you (whoever you are, reading this) and for myself, that whilst the internet allows for one to pick-and-choose the happier parts of life, this study abroad experience is bound to be full of sweet and sour, and I am going to do my best to write holistically. So, bear with me as I navigate my tendency to romanticize this incredible city, this experience I’m super lucky to have, and hopefully we can get some good stories out of it 🙂

À tout à l’heure!


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