(All photos by Alexa)
It’s official. I’ve fallen in love with Paris. And being in Paris no longer feels like a vacation, but more like an actual life. For the first month, I was echoing the sentiment that many people who visit Paris have: that Parisians aren’t the friendliest and it’s really hard to meet them. Other than waiters and shopkeepers, I found that I wasn’t really interacting with many French people. It’s very frustrating to realize that you’re only talking to Americans while living in France. I started going to a church in Paris and saw a whole other side to the Parisians I was encountering on the streets. The frozen frowning faces and occasional shoves in the metro never would have led me to believe Parisians could be so welcoming, friendly, and passionate about life. But joining a Parisian church community has torn apart every stereotype I’ve ever heard about the French. Now, I can say that I regularly do les bisous and am regularly meeting new locals. One of my proudest accomplishments in Paris, thus far, is getting a French person’s phone number. In any culture, you won’t feel fully immersed until you’re actually meeting the locals. So if I had to give one piece of advice to someone studying abroad in France, it would be this: find some sort of French community (a church, an art studio, workout class, etc.) that you can go to regularly and connect with the natives in.
The language is still difficult as I’m not quite used to how fast and quietly the French speak, but what’s more difficult is the temptation to speak English. Knowing that so many people here in Paris usually have a basic understanding of English, it’s so easy to just ask, “Vous parlez anglais?” and not practice the language. It’s a bad habit that I’m hoping to drop by the end of the semester. For now, I’ll keep trying to stick to French, and drop the Franglais.
I had a cool opportunity to photograph a concert for a teenage American artist this past weekend. Though I’d done this before, it was a little bit different to do concert press in France, as opposed to in the States. I have to say, the security and the crowd of teenage girls were much tamer than their American counterparts. A couple of high school-aged girls found out that I had “une passe de presse” and started asking me, excitedly, if I was going to meet the artist after the show and hinting that they wanted to come with me. My “passe de presse” also served as an unexpected networking tool that led to a cool conversation with a French blogger at the show. I’m learning that in Paris, there’s always an opportunity for serendipitous opportunities. I’m hopefully looking forward to more of those, as Paris Fashion Week is upon us and anything could happen.