The morning after my arrival, my roommates and I prepared for our first day of class in our new home city. I was very excited for this was the first time I was able to see Paris clearly, since I arrived late the night before. Our school, located about 30 minutes away, required us to use public transportation; the metropolitan system. Luckily it was right outside of our apartment, so we did not have to walk far before reaching it. We descended down the stairs, accompanied by a chilly draft of air. Soon I realized how daunting the metro could be. I have only been on a subway a few times in New York when I was young, but I do not remember it being nearly as filled as the metro. After the fourth attempt of feeding the machine my metro ticket, I began to feel antsy since real Parisians waited impatiently behind me. Finally, it took my ticket and spit it out on the other end, signaling to me that I was free to enter. I felt a sense of quick relief and satisfaction until I saw the crowded tunnels. I do not have claustrophobia, but I can see how these tunnels can easily make one feel as though they do. It seemed like hundreds of people speed walking past one another in all directions, trying to catch the next ride. We got to our station where we waited for the next metro. Not even a minute after, the metro hauled forward and I saw a horrific view.
The metro was packed! Some stood with their faces nearly on others’ backs, and still more people continued to pile in. I knew there was no room for my four roommates and me to squeeze in, but before I knew it, we were boarding. I was expecting annoyed glares or comments expressing that we were out of line by trying to squeeze in, but as I looked around the metro, all I saw were blank stares. Suddenly, I began to worry that I would be pickpocketed in the overly crammed train. Thus, as people moved in and out at each metro stop, I tried to angle my backpack towards the most innocent-looking person I could find, so that I could shift my focus to breathing through this uncomfortable experience. After eight stops, I was so happy to finally get out, only to realize that we had to make a connection to another metro. I felt like a game of Plinko as I trickled through the tunnels bumping into what seemed like everybody. I tried extra hard to keep up with my roommates who seemed to be speed walking ahead. At the same time I tried to pay attention to the tunnels around me, so that I knew how to get around on my own, and to be on the lookout for any suspicious persons around me. I was quickly overwhelmed. Before I knew it, we were on another crowded train; fortunately, for a shorter time than last. We reached our destination and the train hauled to a stop. I was happier than I expected when we exited the final train because I knew we could finally walk on the open streets of Paris. I anxiously walked up the stairs to enter the core city of Paris and all of its beauty. Meeting Paris in this new light mended the unpleasant first impression.