It was love at first sight. I still remember my first taxi drive from the train station to our new home. I couldn’t take my eyes off your beautiful streets. Listening to ‘La vie en rose’ by Edith Piaf playing on the radio. My heart, beating fast. Pumping the excitement through my veins. I was so nervous, but had no idea just how much I would enjoy the stay.
For me it was the first time in Paris. The beginning was a little tough. Getting used to a new country and a new city. Being away from home. Not knowing that many people. Feeling homesick. But you gave us so much back, there was almost nothing to miss. So much to discover instead. The Eiffel Tower, the museums, the views, the Seine river. Cute cafés around every corner. Culture and Fashion. Restaurants. And most importantly, ourselves. We discovered ourselves. Discovered, what we are capable of and what we are able to do, when we are on our own. How far we can actually go.
Oh Paris, you have challenged us. To become better versions of ourselves. To grow to heights, we had never imagined. You have made us richer. By independence, knowledge and experience. The good and some bad, but both of them make us tell stories. Stories, we will still tell our grand-children.
Of course, it was not all fun and games. University was challenging at times. Misunderstandings appeared. But now, we can be as proud of ourselves as never before. Having spent a whole semester abroad, mastering all courses in a foreign language. Having become experts of group work, presenting and designing slides. (And presenting again. And again.) We learned so much from our interesting and well-experienced professors. And learned about just how different studying can be in a different country.
Paris, I want to thank you. For giving me this great opportunity to meet amazing people, from all over the world. People, who were strangers at first, but have now become great friends, bound by the incredible experiences we made together. By the stories we can tell together. By all the times we laughed, we cried, we enjoyed, we were angry. By our trip to Disneyland, our museum visits, our partying. By spending Christmas time together. Drinking ‘vin chaud’ at Christmas markets. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Breathing it all in. Making the most of it.
Oh Paris, I will miss you. I will miss the streets around our apartment. Living the Parisian lifestyle. Eating croissants and drinking hot chocolate in my favorite café. Even some classes at university. The public transportation system. The beautiful sunsets. The smell of our old and charming apartment. Looking through the window and thinking ‘Wow. I cannot believe I am living in Paris right now.’
But as people say, you should quit while you are ahead. And so we pack our bags, with a crying and a laughing eye, looking forward to seeing our families and friends again. To spending Christmas at home. Secretly planning our next trip to you, Paris. Returning to our second home. To this very special feeling.
I can very much recommend spending your semester abroad in Paris. Paris has become my favorite city of all. There is still so much to discover.
It turns out, Ernest Hemingway was right. My stay in Paris will always stay with me.
For Paris is a moveable feast.