Halfway There

The view of the most beautiful city in the world from the top of Sacre Coeur's Basilica.

The view of the most beautiful city in the world from the top of Sacre Coeur’s Basilica.

I’m writing this at Sciences Po’s library*, just a few hours before I take off for Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, all places that I will be visiting over our fall break (which is definitely not a thing at Northwestern). Most of the French students here seem to be visiting their families, whereas the exchange students are taking the opportunity to explore the rest of Europe, including my three friends and me.

With the semester halfway over, I’m finally starting to feel like I’ve completely adjusted to Paris and Sciences Po. Life in Paris is completely different from life in Evanston—each one has its upsides and downsides. I miss my student groups at Northwestern and all my Northwestern friends, not to mention the small things we take for granted in the United States—like free restrooms, peanut butter, dryers, Jolly Ranchers and fruit flavored gum, and a lower cost of living (Paris is notorious for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe for students to study and live in).  On the other hand, there’s just something so effortlessly charming and beautiful about Paris, and the opportunity to explore different countries every weekend is one I won’t ever take for granted.

At first I wasn't going to wear this hat but then I saw everyone else going for it so I thought why not? At the Army Museum and Napoleon's Tomb.

At first I wasn’t going to wear this hat but then I saw everyone else going for it so I thought why not? At the Army Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb.

My parents visited me at the beginning of October and I delighted in being able to show them around what I had begun to think of as my new home. We visited several parts of the city I had yet to go to, including the famous Montmartre and Sacré Coeur Basilica, and Napoleon’s tomb in the Army Museum.

We also visited Normandy, and although we missed the pick-up for a tour we were supposed to take, we managed to salvage the day by exploring the city of Caen. The next weekend, I invited them along to Chartres Cathedral (famous for hosting the veil of the Virgin Mary), along with my roommate and my friend Pedro, and I said goodbye to them next to the church. The older I grow, the more I realize just how lucky I am to have parents like mine, who support my crazy decisions (like the one to go to a private school over a fully funded experience at the University of Cincinnati), yet still offer sage advice and gently prod me in the right direction (turns out my parents were right about many, many things during my teenage years). My dad initially opposed my studying abroad (apparently he thought it would be like the notorious “partying abroad” programs that so many students do, particularly during the summer), but I managed to bring him around and now both my parents are fully in support of my French adventure. Speaking of which, I’d better get going on my fall break voyage!

 

*Sciences Po’s fire alarm went off a few minutes after writing this sentence, and I had no chance to return to it, so I actually finished it ten days later, after fall break.

My dad and I in front of the Abbye aux Dames in Caen (where Marat's assassin Charlotte Corday famously studied).

My dad and I in front of the Abbye aux Dames in Caen (where Marat’s assassin Charlotte Corday famously studied)

There was a light show the night we stayed in Chartres on the walls of the cathedral (and two other churches in Chartres).

There was a light show the night we stayed in Chartres on the walls of the cathedral (and two other churches in Chartres).