I’m going to call this the 24 hour anniversary of my arrival in Paris.
I landed yesterday at 5 in the morning. After waiting in line to go through customs, grabbing my luggage and getting in an Uber, the first thing I really noticed about Paris was that even at 7 in the morning, the sun still hadn’t risen, nor was the sky lightening with any pre-dawn sunlight.
It kinda weirded me out, and it’s this detail I remember most as I write this blog post now (because it’s almost 7 in the morning and looks like the pitch-black orange of 3am back home, when all the best writing gets done).
So, I guess I should take a moment to back everything up and explain myself. Like, why am I writing this post? Am I going to tie up loose ends from old posts? What does Paris have to do with anything?
My Undergraduate Language Grant was always meant to better prepare me for my study abroad (which Paris is) and I’m writing this because while it may no longer be strictly Office of Undergraduate Research money putting me on a different continent this time, it’s nice to have a little follow-up to see that, yes, these crazy projects we take part in do lead somewhere.
(Plus, I didn’t want to start a whole new blog elsewhere, and blogging at this point is practically obligatory. Otherwise, how would I satisfy my crazed-millennial desires to divulge details about my life into the void of the internet?)
As for tying up loose-ends from old posts…
Let’s just say writing is hard and I make no promises.
But before I go: Here’s a list of the crazy goings-on in the world, so that you have a frame of reference for how arriving in Paris made me a puddle of anxiety the whole time.
- 1. My flight was scheduled for the day when all TSA officers were scheduled to get their first paychecks of the year. This didn’t happen because of the government shutdown. I got to the airport 4+ hours before my flight because I didn’t know what was going to happen.
2. A month or two ago, the yellow vest protests began to happen in Paris. I kept my eye on the travel alerts because if France is moved to a level 3, Northwestern would have most likely cancelled all study abroad plans for France.
3. Yesterday there was a gas explosion in a bakery in the 9th arrondissement. It was a gas leak, but three people died and many more were injured. I was luckily nowhere near the blast, but it’s upsetting and eerie to have it happen on my first day in Paris.
4. The yellow vest protests turned violent today. A friend of mine went and was shot in the leg with a rubber bullet (thankfully, they’re okay). I stayed at my Airbnb all day, but I will think for a long time about my arrival here. When you’re a tourist in a new place, you have to find a balance between understanding what is happening where you are, staying safe, and also following your beliefs. If I had been in the U.S., I would have been at those protests, but I have to decide what my limitations are while I’m here. (And dying here is not an option, so I’d rather not aggravate my chances).
5. Did I mention we’re 13 days into a new year?