You’d think that I would have been familiar with Paris, it being one of the most well-known cities in the world. I mean I thought I knew about Paris, with its Eiffel and its Notre Dame and its Arc and its Louvre and its fashion and its food. Before I went, I definitely would have said I knew Paris as well as someone could without having been there. But then I actually went to Paris…
It was not at all what I was expecting….
It was even better.
Now, I’m not going to talk about how awesome it was for me, because it’s different for everyone. There are even some people who don’t like it at all (cough, cough, a guy in the IES Madrid program…). But what it reminded me of (for the nth time in my life) is how sure I can be of something, just to have it completely change in two seconds.
Pardon the punny-ness of this phrase, but being locked into certain ideas usually become subconscious for me. I mean, this isn’t something necessarily terrible, and it actually lets us function as, ya know, humans. But there really are some things that can’t be conveyed through stories or videos or pictures. And there are others that can’t be experienced the same by different people, or even the same person at different times. Paris is both of those things.
And so are its little food joints
And its Eiffel Tower and multi-million dollar supercars
And its art museums…
Of course, really study abroad itself is like this too. It’s hard if not impossible to convey what it’s like, just like it would be impossible to explain what living in the states it like… That’s just too meta.
Being abroad also exposes you to those locked in ideas that you may not realize are locked in. These can range all the way from political ideals to social etiquette to butter vs oil. And that challenge is something that I’ve enjoyed most and feel like I’ve gotten the most out of during my 4.5 months here so far.
Because Paris and the previously unknown feeling and atmosphere I experienced there, those other things I usually leave unquestioned came to the forefront. I stayed in the house of a French friend I met in Madrid and I thought about the difference between friend and stranger. I watched the way people dressed and thought about accepted norms of fashion and color. I saw kids playing and being crazy in the plazas and public places and thought about why we hate on Drake for dancing however he wants to, just like the kids do…
Anyway, these are just some of the thoughts I had while wandering around Paris and around life during study abroad. It was worth every euro of the cheap flight (and more), and may have been my favorite thing I’ve done since I’ve come to Spain. Sometimes you just have to take a step back from everything and get the big picture; that’s what I did by going to Paris solo.
Sometimes you have to pick out and enjoy the little things
And sometimes you have to stop coordinating the text with the pictures because you’re really just trying too hard now…
Thanks for reading!
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<p>Hey all you humans, my name's Ben, and I just happen to be living in Madrid, Spain! I'll be here total for 6 months (I came early for an internship), and I'll be sharing my explorations, the city, travels, school, highs, lows, I'm-not-quitesure- what's, friends, random people who I've never seen, and more! I've moved around a lot back home in the states, but currently I live around the corner from Milwaukee, WI, and go to Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN where I study Mechanical Engineering and (for now at least) Communications Studies and anything else that's interesting. Now I've gotta go and try and contain my excitement... I typically take headshots for other people, so a selfie will have to do...</p>