By the time this post is published, I’ll be on my way back to Philadelphia, but right now as I write it’s my last day in Paris, and I’m waiting for my roommate to wake up so we can enjoy a last Parisian breakfast together. I’m planning on using the day to revisit the places I’ve enjoyed the most and to say my goodbyes. First stop is Musée de l’Orangerie, the art museum in the Jardins du Tuileries that houses Monet’s water lily rooms (check out the scene in “Midnight in Paris” for a good idea of what this beautiful space looks like). I visited Orangerie a few weeks ago and I thought the water lilies were so calming and reflective (it’s also free since I’m under 26, but that’s just an added bonus). I also just really like going to art museums by myself, and since Orangerie was one of my favorites I’d like to head over one last time.
After Orangerie, I’m planning on spending some time at Shakespeare and Company and maybe some time in the gardens around Notre Dame (the friendly street artist, small shopkeepers, and breathtaking views of the Seine make this my favorite place in Paris). Saying goodbye to Shakespeare and Co. may be my hardest goodbye (just kidding), but it really became my natural habitat while abroad. I’ve always wanted to open up my own bookstore or café, which is next to impossible in America, but which literally line the streets in Paris, and it’s been very nice getting to know all the bookstores in the area.
After Shakespeare and Co., my roommate and I are meeting our Swedish friend Lovisa for a picnic by the Canal St. Martin. Yesterday I said goodbye to a few friends from Australia, Texas, and Turkey, which was not fun. In the words of Lovisa, “You meet people and you know them so well, and then you go your separate ways and never see each other again. The world is so big.” She’s absolutely right, but it’s very cool to have people all over the world I know I can call anytime, and who can call me, if we’re ever in each others’ home countries. And since I’d never really met a lot of people who weren’t American, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have met friends from so many other cultures here. Life, in my opinion, is about making an impact on other people’s lives—small, personal, fleeting influences, that everyone carries with them wherever they go. I’ll always carry certain people with me, and certain people will always carry me, and that is comforting.
After this tearful goodbye, I’ll head over to Angelina’s, a café by the Louvre famous for its delicious hot chocolate (my junior high French teacher tracked me down to tell me to go, so I have high expectations!) On this Temple program, there are people like me, my roommate, and some others who are in Paris for four weeks, but the majority of people are here for six weeks (I’ll be living vicariously through them until it’s time to go back to Temple) and we’re having a final meal together at Angelina’s to say goodbye until the fall. Coming into this trip, I didn’t know anyone, and was worried I would just be traipsing through Paris by myself for a month. I didn’t believe the Education Abroad staff when they talked about how close people on study abroad trips become. But they were absolutely right, and we really have all become very close—I can’t wait till our reunions in the fall!
I won’t spend too much time gushing about how great studying abroad is here—but if possible, go. I remember almost deciding to stay in Philly this summer because I’d never been out of the U.S. before and traveling can be scary, but thank goodness I decided to take the leap. Traveling while young is especially cool, and meeting people my age from all over the world has been a incomparable experience. I’ve dreamed about coming to Paris since I was a little kid watching The Aristocats and reading Madeline, and everything about this trip has just left me in awe. And I’ll of course take Paris with me—the “moveable feast” of it all, and everything I’ve learned here. I made myself a promise to return in ten years (but hopefully sooner!) and I can’t wait to come back to this beautiful city, at a different time in my life. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered,” and that applies to both Philly and Paris now.
Until next time, Paris.