Reflecting on my travels to Paris is a remarkable phenomenon. There’s an eerie feeling arriving back to a city, whose architecture, streets, and culture have remained unchanged for hundreds of years, but you yourself have changed so much in just the last four years. For being only 21, I feel quite old. Paris has a way of making a couple years ago feels like a lifetime ago. I’m a romantic by nature, and constantly view life either through rose-colored glasses or with a heavy dark cloud over my head. Therefore Paris is quite suiting for me. How can one not be reminded of love or angst when walking the streets of Paris? In many ways, Paris puts into perspective the person you once were, the person you are now, and the person you will become.
The first time I saw Paris, it was the summer of 2013. I had stepped off the Eurostar traveling from London to Paris with about 20 other recent Marina High School graduates. For many of us, it was the first time traveling without parents and being able to legally drink alcohol. So, to us, Paris was like a playground full of possibilities, freedom, and history. We visited all the touristy attractions, climbed to the top of every landmark, and still ate at McDonalds for lunch. It was fun trip, a stepping stone to our independence, but I think the majority of us did not see or appreciate all that Paris really had to offer.
The second time I saw Paris it was in April of 2015 and I was with my grandparents. Without the noise of a bunch of wide-eyed high schoolers, I was able to walk the streets of Paris alone and really take in my surroundings. The stones used to make the majority of the buildings around Paris, the bakeries, the freshness of the orange juice, and the authenticness of the Parisians stood out more to me.
The third time I came to Paris it was in January of 2017 and I was again traveling from London to Paris via the Eurostar. This time, my childhood friend Taylor, who had never been to Europe, was accompanying me. I truly have enjoyed watching her expressions when seeing a European city for the first and learning what her first impressions are of them. She did not care for London, my favorite city, but has already fallen in love with the Parisian life. I feel like most people are disappointed with Paris at first because of how over romanticized it is in the movies. Perhaps I talked up London too much and talked down Paris just the right amount.
This time in Paris, I do see Paris as a sort of home. We have our apartment, which is actually quite spacious, modern, clean, and most importantly, warm. I love having a routine, so I actually enjoy going to class while in Paris. It makes me feel more like a real Parisian and not just a tourist. I tend to wake up early, so I like to use the mornings to reflect on my little Parisian neighborhood. Perhaps one day I’ll make Paris a more permanent home.