From masks to baguettes

Martin Lopez Melendez
September 6, 2021

JFK international airport used to be stressful, but add a pandemic to it and boom! Chaos! It is hard to stay completely distanced from people at the security checkpoint when everyone is trying to get to the same place. I have to repeat that it was stressful, but once you are in you are in! We made it! But not everything is bad about traveling during a pandemic. Since there are a lot less people traveling, my flight to Paris turned out to be not so full, therefore I had enough space to distance myself from others in the plane (it is also nice to have a full row to yourself). Wearing a mask for the entirety of the flight wasn’t that bad if you have a nice comfortable mask, but if we are being honest you might just sleep during the flight and won’t even notice you have a mask on. 

Finally we made it to our destination, woohoo!!! I have to be honest, it is really hard to describe what it's like to be here because there are so many things I want to talk about. I have to say that the first week so far has been a little stressful since it feels that there is so much to do and so little time, but again, it’s just the first week. The fear and nervousness that I had initially are going away and the excitement and happiness have overtaken the scene. I think that something that I have learned so far is that it is ok to be scared, nervous, and to not know exactly what to do. I repeat, IT IS TOTALLY OK! We are all learning together and at the end of the day you’ll know what to do. :) 

It is hard to describe this experience since there is so much to talk about, therefore I talked to some of my peers in the program to get their input for this post. I asked them what they think about Paris so far and to describe the city in one word, so here are some of their inputs. 

Diverse: yes! This city is amazingly diverse. Even though French is the lingua franca of France you can hear a million other languages around. The other day I met a guy with whom I started a really nice conversation in French, then we shifted into Spanish and we ended up in Russian. I'm in a linguistic paradise! But not everything is about language, the food, music, art and many other cultural components of other cultures are found here. I love that in my street I not only get to eat French food, but also Vietnamese, Arab, Indian, and so many more. 

Friendly: my friends and I have found Parisians to be super friendly. People actually smile and talk to you on the street. My first day here I encountered many people who said hi to me on the street. I love the atmosphere of this place. 

Elegant/stylish: I am usually against stereotypes, but one thing I do have to admit is that the stereotype of Paris being the place for style and fashion is true. People really do know how to dress and combine clothing here. I think I am going to go back to the US looking like a totally different person after this program. 

Beautiful: every city is unique in its own way, but Paris really stands out for how beautiful it is in many different ways. The most remarkable probably is the architecture which really stands out from any other place. 

Baguettes: yes! this word was my input, but let me explain why; on my first day I saw at least 15 people carrying baguettes on the street. I also saw some others riding their bicycle with a baguette on their basket. There are so many bakeries around and I find it amazing that this is such a big part of the culture. I love it! And yes, you guessed it, I just came back from buying a baguette. 

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Martin Lopez Melendez

<p>My name is Martin and I am a 20-year-old student studying at Lewis &amp; Clark College in Portland Oregon. I'm majoring in World Languages with my two main languages being French and Russian and minoring in dance. I was born in a small rural area in Mexico and immigrated to California when I was 13. At age 16 I embarked on a 2-year adventure at the United World College USA located in northern New Mexico. I love talking to people, seeing and learning about new places. In my free time, I love dancing, reading, working out, and spending time with friends. I am also a goat lover and consider myself a goat expert.</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Lewis and Clark College
Coalinga, CA/La Piedad, Mexico
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