During spring break, I had the most amazing opportunity to travel abroad as part of a quarter course. This was my first time traveling to Europe. Many of my friends whom have traveled in the past (and many of them who still travel regularly) always tell me about the many countries they have visited and the many couches they have slept on. I always wanted to travel, but I never had the time (or money, really) to do so.
Until this year. I went to Paris and it was the most amazing trip I have ever been on in my life. I visited all of the tourist areas: Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and many many more. I ate the food, I drank the wine and I even practiced my French.
The people didn’t smell. At all. (Where did that stereotype even begin?) The crepes were to die for and their pizza was surprisingly good. But the most interesting part of it all is how extremely nice the French are. Sure, I heard horror stories on how biased the French are when it comes to tourists, especially Americans. But I have never been to a city where the people aren’t rude (ehem..New York City) and where you can’t take in a breath of fresh air.
Paris itself was a surprise. I didn’t realize how old the city actually is until I went there. There are no skyscrapers (well, there are just a few), police sirens aren’t going off every five minutes, there aren’t food vendors at every corner and the buildings that are in Paris are residential buildings. It’s a very antique city filled with so much history, which I completely appreciated.
The gypsies are a problem, though. I travel to NYC a lot and I take the train in from Long Island. I have never felt unsafe leaving my bag on the seat next to me. But in Paris, it’s different. Gypsies roam the metros. They aren’t afraid to open your bag and reach in to steal your prized possessions. They aren’t afraid to beg (repeatedly) for food or money. They’re not afraid to get rejected. And they hate being ignored. I never felt the need to clutch my bag tightly like I did in Paris.
But I can’t sit here and tell you that going abroad, even if it was just for one week, will change your life. I can’t tell you that it’s the most amazing experience you will ever have and that the memories you build will forever be engraved in your mind. You’re going to have to find out on your own and I truly hope you do.