After 3 months away from home, I was beyond excited to see my family. As much as I have loved my time abroad, there is simply no greater feeling than being completely at ease with the people who know you best. Thus, instead of going home or having them come to Rome, we decided to spend Thanksgiving in Paris! None of us had ever been before and since my little sister had gotten a 4 on the AP French Language exam, the city of lights seemed like a perfect choice.
Upon arrival, we hailed a taxi to take us to our hotel. The driver being Chinese, my parents immediately struck up a conversation on where the best Chinese restaurants were in Paris. I could not help but laugh at how while this may happen in Paris, Rome is a completely different story. From my experiences in Rome, there is almost no diversity. Everyone is Italian except for the Bangladeshi vendors selling fruits, chestnuts, and roses. Even in the “Chinatown” of Rome (aka Piazza Vittorio Emanuele) where all the Chinese, Japanese, and Indian restaurants are located, people of those respective ethnicity do not live in the Vittorio Emanuele area. Instead, the residences are populated my Italians. Having analyzed the area many times for my sociology class with Professor Smith, I can confidently state that the area is a superficial Chinatown. There are no Asian grocery stores or pastry shops; simply row after row of cheap clothing imported from China—things that only non-Asian people would buy. Back to Paris though….
Because it was all of our first times in Paris, we did all the touristy things: Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, boat tour down the Seine, Versailles, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomph…and the list goes on. One of the best experiences though was skipping the Musee d’Orsay and going to the Musee de l’Orangerie instead. The Musee de l’Orangerie is smaller and less crowded, and houses Monet’s water lilies. Since my parents are not art-lovers like my sister and me, I felt that going to the Musee d’Orsay would be too overwhelming for them. They loved the water lilies and liked that the museum was just the right size where one could see everything in one visit and give each artwork the attention it deserves.
Even though I had studied French in high school, I found it difficult to recall during Thanksgiving weekend. Not only has it been three years since I have looked at French, but with learning Italian now, I found myself meshing the two Romance languages together. While in Paris, I would automatically respond with “si,” instead of “oui,” cross the street despite traffic light signals, ignore the lines at pastry shops and cut in front of everyone…it was not so much of an American culture clash, but an Italian one! I was shocked to have adopted so many Roman habits in such a short time. Alas, at the end of the weekend, I had regained a lot of my French, which even helped me to remember my Italian as well! There are so many similarities and differences between the two languages. Many words look the same, but are pronounced differently. In my opinion, Italian is much easier to learn than French, just because the French pronounce everything weird—leaving off letters and contradicting words, c’est difficile!