After the worst flying experience of my life, I finally made it to Paris at 6pm last night! I managed to get myself to my house without any issues and was greeted by my host sister Lauren. She, along with her friend, helped me carry my 50-lb. suitcase up the stairs and showed me around the house. It has three levels, with my room on the first, the living room and kitchen on the second, and three bedrooms and the bathroom upstairs. I have to lock my door every time I leave because apparently the door right next to mine is a studio apartment that my host mom’s cousin lives in. Along with that surprise, in French homes the toilet and the shower aren’t in the same room. In fact, my toilet is on a completely different floor from the shower which will definitely take some getting used to.
My host mom is also very kind. She arranged butter, jam and a plate to make a map of our neighborhood to show me where the closest metro stop was. She speaks a little bit of English, along with the rest of my family, but the majority of my conversations are in very broken French. You never realize how much you don’t know until you are trying to keep up with someone who is fluent. Luckily, I got my host brother to feel bad for me and tell me he actually speaks pretty good English. So at least I know someone understands me when I can’t figure out how to get my point across in French.
I got really lucky with my housing, because I only have to take one metro line to school and to the ISA (International Study Abroad) Office. There are like 20 different lines and the thought of having to switch from line to line makes my head spin, so I’m grateful I had an easy route for the first day! The metro isn’t as as awful as I had anticipated. It doesn’t smell any worse than the Phoenix light rail and I think my resting bitch face keeps the pick pockets at bay.
It was not very difficult finding the ISA office for orientation today, because my host mom told me to look for Notre Dame. It’s not easy to miss, and I just followed the Seine (the big river that runs through Paris) until I found the office. Orientation was pretty standard, but I learned that there’s actually quite a few people in my program from ASU.
La cuisine (the food)
At orientation they gave us croissants and pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants). I stuck to a normal croissant and it was ten thousand times better than I could have imagined. I’ve still yet to try a crêpe, but that will be the first thing on my list tomorrow.
After we learned a few basics about Paris we had a break for a lunch, and a few girls and I went to an Italian restaurant. I had spaghetti because I am terrible under pressure when it comes to ordering at restaurants. Like most Americans, I used the twirling technique to get my pasta onto my fork and into my mouth. Apparently this wasn’t satisfactory for the waiter because he came up to me, grabbed my fork, and hand fed me my next (and final) bite of spaghetti. Although my cheeks turned bright red, it was some pretty great pasta.
As for dinner tonight, I just got done eating veggie pizza with a fork and knife. It felt super weird, but I’m just trying to be française. For both nights we have had salad with our meals, and I’m not sure what the dressing is made out, but I think it’s a gift from Jesus because I have never enjoyed salad so much in my life.
Overall, I think this semester is going to have its ups and downs. Being 5,000 miles away from home without any friends might be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but I don’t think that anything worth having comes easily. As soon as I’m alone all I think about is how much I miss my family, friends and cats, but luckily there is so much to do here I doubt I’ll be alone often. Even though I can barely understand my host brother and sister’s banter, it’s still entertaining and I feel like I’m part of a family. I think it would be really to easy to lose myself while I’m here, but I also think this is such an amazing opportunity to grow and I’m definitely going to capitalize on the latter.