It was July of 2011, and I was travelling by bus with fifty-nine other individuals driving out of Madrid, Spain. At the moment, I was dazed in a dream, and I had no idea where we were headed. An announcement was made that my group was stopping in Paris for a night, and I quickly snapped out of my dream. “I am going to see the fabulous, stunning Paris”, I whispered to myself. I stared and stared at the passing traffic signs hoping they would inform me that Paris was close by. As I watched for the traffic signs, I envisioned the city and all of its glory. I imagined beautiful buildings, beautiful people, and the Eiffel Tower. Oh, how I hoped we would at least pass by it so I could finally see the tower with my own eyes! Then with a blink of an eye, the signs read “Paris.” My eyes became attentive to the buildings and the people roaming the streets. I began to see images that I did not fall under my definition of Paris. Trash, like food wrappers and empty water bottles, sat on the road. Colorful graffiti filled the walls of freeways. Some graffiti were paintings of pictures and portraits while others were words and phrases. I also did not see buildings as beautiful as I imagined them to be. The only expectations that I had that were true were that people were going to speak French and everything was going to be written in French. What saddened me was that the group I was traveling with stated we would not be able to stop by the Eiffel Tower. My dreams were crushed. The first time I experienced Paris seemed like I was in Los Angeles, not Paris.
I never knew when the next time I was going to set foot in Paris for the second time until October 2016 when I received news in that I was given the opportunity to study in the city with my university. I took the opportunity in an instant because I wanted to relive my first day in Paris. I knew I should have not been crushed the first day I saw the city because there was more to see than what I saw the first time.
I did not realize I was going to live in Paris for three weeks until I was waiting in the terminal. The program foreshadowed several activities we were going to participate in, and I knew these activities would allow me to really embrace Paris. My friend Keo and I received news that our first flight was delayed. We panicked and then quickly switched flights in order to arrive to Paris on time. We then discovered that our changed flight was delayed. I was furious because I just wanted to be in Paris the time we were promised by the airlines. After a ten hour flight, Keo and I made our way to the next plane where we received news from the airline that we would board a later flight. At this point, I did not care how long it took me to get to Paris. I just wanted to see any kind of indicator that I was in Paris. Once our second flight finally landed, I waited in anticipation to see an indicator to prove to me I was in Paris. Then from the window of the plane crept in light from the airport. I glanced outside, and I saw part of the airport lit in red, white, and blue, which are the colors of the French flag. My eyes lit up with happiness. I wanted to yell on top of my lungs, “I finally made it to Paris!”