Study Abroad Diaries: NYU Paris Week One

Oh man, where do I begin?

We’ve been in Paris for, what, two weeks now? - and so much has happened. You know that feeling where everything is happening so fast and you can’t really fathom that any of it is real? That’s how I’m feeling.

One thing, though, is undoubtedly, evidently, really true - Paris is beautiful. Paris has this really great knack of making you fall in love with it instantly, deeply and permanently. Just by looking around. The classic, Haussmann-style buildings (learned that vocab in one of my classes here. Yay school!) which seem to come straight out of a storybook; the Parisiennes who dress like they have their s*** beyond together 24/7 and sit for hours drinking coffee and wine; the people-watching at streetside cafés; the boulangeries and fromageries and boucheries on every corner; and last but not least, the bread, oh, the bread. I just want to say are you freaking kidding me at everything beautiful and glorious and wonderfully French.

I got here with my parents a few days before move-in, so I got all the main cliché touristy sites - Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, Tour Eiffel, Versailles, the Louvre - out of my system before I began checking out the places you can’t find on TripAdvisor. But in any case, it was so cool and once again surreal to finally see these insane monuments after hearing about them for so many years.

But we did do a good job of stumbling upon some crazy delicious places to eat. The French are all about savoring life with ease, especially when it comes to food. It is an absolute must for restaurants and cafés to have large windows and tables and chairs positioned to face the street. The food is all so fresh and so, so light. Especially coming from the United States, the land of processed food, you can totally taste and feel the difference in the food quality. Even if you’re stuffing your face with a pain au chocolat, you won’t really get that disgusting bloated feeling you normally would if you’re inhaling a good ol’ American strawberry cheesecake. Haven’t you wondered why the French are so damn lean with all that bread in their diet? I am obsessed.

On the 1st of September, my friend Emily and I moved into our shared apartment in the 15th arrondissement (neighborhood) of Paris. We’re on the second floor on a cute little street called Rue Jules Simon. It’s only about two blocks away from a main market area called Rue du Commerce where you can find cafés and all kinds of shops. It’s a super residential and bourgeoisie area, so in the mornings when I go for a run I have to dodge all the kids walking to school with their parents and people rushing to to work. I absolutely love the feeling of being completely immersed with the locals.

We’ve also got an adorable boulangerie (bakery) right at the bottom of our bâtiment (building) where we pick up baguettes and croissants (my favorite is the almond croissant, croissant aux amandes, it literally melts in your mouth). I don’t think there is a better way to start your morning. It’s absolutely perfect and, trust me on this, great for the soul.

We’re about 25 minutes by métro from our school which is in the 5th arrondissement, right on Boulevard Saint-Germain. The area is also known as the Latin Quarter because of its rich history of being home to lots of schools including la Sorbonne. NYU’s building just so happens to be walking  distance from the Notre Dame cathedral, la Seine river, and some popular hangout spots and homes of famous historical artists, including Delacroix, Picasso, Zola, and Hugo. If you’ve ever wondered where the heck our NYU tuition is going, I think I’ve figured it out.

Anyways. I’m so ready to just dive in and explore.

Views from the NYU building

PC: @thegreatjensen

I think the most terrifying part about moving here has been speaking French. Even though I’ve been learning it for 8 years and can understand quite a bit, it’s a completely different story when you have to communicate with native speakers on a day-to-day basis. My god, they speak so, SO fast. So knowing me and my overthinking and frequent awkward and frazzled states of existence, things have been pretty rough. Interactions often consist of me either mumbling things too fast and incorrectly or making the person repeat themselves over and over again. It usually ends with them raising their voice or switching to the disgraceful language of English. But hey, I’m trying. It can be a bit discouraging at times, but I think it’s really important to get kicked in the butt and be challenged on a daily basis to improve oneself. My goal by the end of this semester: de devenir une francophone. I already feel like I’ve improved a lot since I arrived, so I’m excited to see how things go!