The French Influence

A few days ago, I happened upon my program’s guidebook to studying abroad in Paris, which had a photograph of the Eiffel Tower on the cover. The photograph was taken from the less standard angle in which the photographer takes a photo from underneath the tower. The result, is similar to what you see below- a photo of two of the Eiffel Tower’s legs and the underbelly of the tower- with all of the beautiful golden lace-like-design contrasting from the  solid colored-blue sky.

photo from fromparis.com

This image with its unconventional and close up view of the great monument ignited a memory. At first vague but then, as I remembered where and when I this memory came from, I realized I had been very acquainted with a similar view of the Eiffel Tower. I had been right underneath the Eiffel Tour, cornered in the hollow of its legs.  That was once upon a time in a video game.

I must have been in the third grade, as I can imagine myself in Ms. X’s class talking about it will a classmate and knowing it was around the year when playstation2 was in its glory days. What I knew about Paris at that point, I’m guessing, had all been acquired through movies. I must justify this as I don’t want my 8 year old self sounding uncultured. I don’t think we were taught European history by third grade nor was I researching images and information about Paris on AOL. Thus, I think I can say with some confidence that I didn’t really have a clear image of what Paris was like. Not the way you can so easily form an image of a far and distant place thanks to Google Earth, blogs, the travel channel, etc.

The game I’m referring to is called “Twisted Metal”. I won’t get into details but it was a car game with the objective of destroying the other player’s car (I really mean killing the driver inside. It was pretty violent.) I assume that to make it interesting you would have the option of playing in different cities- like Moscow, Tokyo, some boring place in America and Paris. I actually preferred to kill my opponent in Paris- I loved trying to find them in the narrow streets, looking at the little shops I drove by, or driving down les grands boulevards. You could even visit the Eiffel Tour, be transported to its upper levels, blow it up (!), watch a mime perform  on the streets and even run him over.

I do not own these images

I had long forgotten about this game by 5th grade and hardly have given it a thought since then. But that image on the front cover of my guidebook triggered this memory that is now so vivid in my mind’s eye. I wonder if my entire life has been driven  towards getting me to Paris. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I was never one that dreamt of living in Paris (mostly because I never thought it was possible) until a little more than a year ago. I now wonder that my going to Paris is the result of outside [French] influences that have accumulated within me over the years:

a vision of Paris in a video game, followed by a viewing of Mary Kate & Ashley’s A Passport To Paris, realizing the chic’ness of Parisians through those posh-woman-at-a-cafe graphic (you know the drawing of a disproportionately thin French (maybe?) woman in a cute outfit walking her small dog or sitting at a cafe), the allure of European transportation through “Barbie with Vespa”, being taught in high school by a teacher obsessed with the French language and Paris (and Jackie Kennedy), reading a 1000 page book on the history of France, having a friend who spoke French, watching Amelie for the first time and loving it, thinking of going to fashion school where French classes were mandatory, being accepted and attending a school with a renown Paris study abroad program…

And each time that I kept these experiences in my “French repertoire”, instead of rejecting them, I was getting closer and closer to sealing my fate as une fausse-Parisienne (and conversely, farther and farther away from an alternative, eschewed path).

Which makes me wonder, what will happen once I get back from Paris?

89 days!

xx

S

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Pizza in Paris

Compared to last week, things are going pretty well. So much so that I’m afraid this will all end with me being rejected by the French Consulate. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen to me. My writing career is depending on this trip to Paris. (jokes)

What started off as a high-stress week has ended in a pretty normal level of anxiety, and it only took a few hours to resolve all those bureaucratic issues. Unfortunately for anyone who’s reading this (yes, all two of you!), the resolving of my problems makes for a very lackluster post.

There was a group meeting earlier this week of all of us who are a part of this program and going to Paris. The first time we all met I was filled with anxiety. I kept thinking of “plans of attack”  for how I could best get to know everyone in the shortest period of time in order to figure out who I should be aligning myself with and who I should be avoiding. And when I mean there are people to avoid, I don’t mean to imply that I’m analyzing everyone and making a list of the have and have-nots (of coolness). What I really mean is that once we’re out of America and floundering around in Paris (some more than others) there are certain people who will enhance your experience and some who will just rain on you, every.single.day.

And that’s just a fact of life, I’m not really saying something groundbreaking or being catty. It’s all about chemistry; no matter how much you like pizza you just can’t have it at breakfast because it’s just not the right time.. maybe later in the future when you’re at a different place both physically and mentally, but pizza at breakfast is just going to slow you down during the day. You’ll be so thrown off by this unconventional meal that you won’t even remember to enjoy your breakfast-time.  (This is a horrible analogy for many reasons, one being that I could eat pizza for any meal and every day of my life.)

It’s too early to predict who will align with who (even if it’s all just for fun- to recall the time when I thought I would never be friends with AmericanGirl#27, when in fact we became best friends). I do wonder however if friendships formed in Paris (and through French communication nevertheless) can cross oceans and survive translations once we all get back to America.

But that’s too far in the future to even think about.

4 more months until Paris!

xx

S

So, you’re an overachieving planner…

Because I have made numerous lists concerning this summer and Paris, I can assert that things are not going according to plan.

Whenever I find myself in need of a mental break or I’m feeling stressed out, I’ll console myself by making a tidy list. In my to-do lists, I might account for every hour of my day. Ex: 4-5pm shower. 530-6pm eat dinner”,(as if I really needed to remind myself I need to make time to eat) or I might write down all the places I need to visit in NYC before I leave.

With my excitement and anxiety for my year in Paris, many of the lists I have made (many thrown out after revised editions have been made, others still tucked in the pages of my journal) detail the thing I need to buy or do before my trip. I have no idea if I’ll wind up referring back to these lists and following them, but they’re a good way to remind myself of the good things to come.

According to my lists dating back from my first year in college, this summer I should be interning and holding a full time job. I’m not sure about full time employment, but I’m not too confident that I’ll hear back from a single internship I applied for. My failure is further thrown in my face when classmates reiterate “you don’t know what you’re doing this summer?!” and then continue to describe their superior summer plans. I feel like saying “thank you for your concern but I still have time! Something could change by the time summer starts! Have faith”. But I’m also secretly sharing their fear for my future.

Already, another derailment to my plans is my very first day in Paris-when I’ll be arriving a day earlier than my program starts. At the moment it looks like I’ll be sleeping on the streets of Paris. What an intimate experience! I couldn’t have planned it any better.

But I have four months until I’ll allow myself to freak out. Until then I’ll be trying to figure out housing arrangements for that one night.- a time when most Parisiens flee the city for les vacances. Much planning to pursue!

Xx
S

The Best Thing about a trip to Paris is Iceland

Just kidding.

But on a serious note: I just booked my flight to Paris for this August! As soon as I got my confirmation my going to Paris suddenly felt real again. Sometimes, at weeks at a time, even though I continue to research and read about Paris in order to prepare myself, I don’t give myself time to really wrap my head around the fact that I’ll be in Paris in 4 months for a year long journey. I think it’s because I have so much to do in order to finish up this spring semester that I know I can’t let myself get emotionally/mentally distracted. Or maybe it’s because if I actually gave myself time to think about it I would begin to freak out and concentrate on how unprepared I am.

Whatever the reason is, I haven’t been obsessing about my year abroad like I thought I would at this point in time. I am busy with the Visa process, making spreadsheets on Excel of places to visit and buying my “Paris sandals” or my “Paris converter-adapter” but I haven’t really enjoyed many moments of “ahhhh… I made it! I’m going to Paris” I’m sure that will come in time.

Speaking of time and the changes that come with it… I’m going to Paris ?? Contrary to many of the girls in this program, going to Paris has not been a life long, calculated dream. Although I’m sure that I have fantasized of traveling and  visiting Paris, I had always been perfectly content with living in NYC. Plus, never would I have dreamt of being able to speak French (sort of) and actually integrating myself into the French culture. I never imagined myself to be more than a tourist in a city like Paris. I will never be a Parisienne, bien sur, and I’m fine with that. However, I fully expect to participate during my year abroad.

Maybe it’s sad, but it’s how I feel: Going to Paris feels like I’m finally living. I have always felt a bit like an observer, even in my own life. Always waiting for something to happen to me or to reach a certain age in order to begin living. Well after I touch down to CDG airport, I will have no excuse! I will have reached the point in which I MUST participate, seize the day and “live”. Otherwise, I’m wasting my own time.

xx

S