Upon entering Paris’s hamster-cage-like Charles de Gaulle Airport, I tired my best to fit into the swarm of people grabbing bags and heading to the train/metro station. The IES Abroad program recommded that we take a taxi to our home stays for around 60 euros. I scoffed, why spend that much when I could take public transportation for 15 minutes and 12 euros! Three and a half hours later, I understood the infinite wisdom of the IES Abroad staff. I walked outside for roughly two hours in the pouring rain, thoroughly soaking everything in my suitcase (RIP books, white clothes, pride). I knew from my foray with Google Earth that the apartment was on the Seine therefore I politely asked a man “where is the Seine?” Just for a frame of reference, that’s like telling someone you live on Lake Michigan and expecting them to know exactly where your house is. “The Seine?” he said, “It’s Paris, the Seine is everywhere.”
Finally I found my destination and my host mom greeted me at the door. One look at the real-live French woman I would be living with for the next four months and my head was suddenly emptied of every bit of French I had learned over the past nine years. I was only able to offer rudimentary comments like “you have nice house” and “oh, window!” Still, she showed me around the apartment and spoke in painfully slow French. I later learned that she had been hosting students for 12 years and was probably used to my deer-in-the-headlights stammering.
Four days later I am assured that I was granted the host mom from heaven. Not only do we create nightly notecards for my new vocab, she has offered to share more than the required three meals with me. Unfortunately I have been sick these past few days. Thus I have learned that there is no more unfriendly place than the Paris metro at 6:30 AM when feverish (think Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). On the plus side, I totally nailed a doctors appointment entirely in French which pretty much exploded my ego. Still, my host mom who – let’s recall- met me oly four days ago has gone out of her way to look out for me. She actually made me chicken noodle soup. I thought that only happened in children’s books!
Honestly it has not been easy to be sick in a place where I know no one. I missed the majority of my orientation and Paris is a lonely place when you’re not feeling too hot. Still, as my good friend who is studying abroad in Uganda reassured me, “at least it’s not typhoid!” It is also probably not, as WebMD suggests, cannibalism in Papua New Guinea, cocaine overdose, or a weever fish sting. These things and more I can be grateful for.
Also, I have not yet been human trafficked à la Taken, so there’s that too.
More Blogs From This Author
<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Clancy Tripp is a junior at Claremont McKenna double-majoring in Literature and Film Studies with a minor in Gender Studies. In the past few years she has lived in Indiana, California, Washington D.C., and Chicago studying and working in arts and literacy education. Good luck keeping her in the same place for more than a year. True to form, she will be spending the Fall semester in Paris, France where she will spend as much time as possible with local French children, explore every arrondissement, and sample every pain au chocolat available!</span></p>