Finding Moments of Joy During a Pandemic

Julia Himmelberger
September 10, 2021

Now that I’ve been in Paris for almost two weeks, I’m starting to get in the groove of la vie quotidienne (daily life) of Parisians: using the metro, speaking in French, and living independently. I know where to get my groceries, what to do if I don’t feel well, and how to get to places around the city. I thought it would take a lot longer to acclimate to life here, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the easy transition. 

Going into study abroad, I was quite apprehensive about what life would be like in another country during the pandemic. Would things be open? Would I be able to meet people? Would it be any fun? I knew that it wouldn’t be entirely like a “normal” study abroad experience (one without a global pandemic), but I made it one of my goals to find moments of joy around the city of Paris during a year characterized by sickness, loss, and grief. So far, it has been easy to find such moments. I continue to stumble upon people enjoying life in creative ways, and things that bring joy to my life that I wouldn’t experience in the U.S. 

Here are a few moments that I’ve noticed so far:


One of my favorite things to do so far has been going to parks and gardens. There are so many all over the city and they’re all open to the public. It is so relaxing to walk around, look at the flowers and trees, and sit on a blanket watching the world go by. On Sunday afternoon, I went with some friends to the Luxembourg Gardens, and there were so many people out on picnic blankets, enjoying snacks with friends. We also came across a live band that was playing outside. Many people were swing dancing to the music. It was so joyful!


On a Saturday morning, I walked to a boulangerie close to my apartment to pick up un pain au chocolat (a chocolate croissant) and une demi-baguette (half a baguette). They were both freshly baked and still warm! I've started incorporating a trip to the boulangerie into my morning routines. It's a great way to feel more like a local, and get to know the area where I'm living.  

The Metro

I’ve come to really like the routine of using the metro every day. I have to take two different trains to get to class at the IES Abroad Center from my apartment. I like starting and ending my day with a trip on the metro. You can people watch, read a book, listen to podcasts or music, or just sit and reflect. 

La glace (ice cream)

I LOVE ice cream, and it’s delicious here! I like to try different flavors together, and it’s the perfect snack on a hot day. 

The Seine

There’s really nothing better than enjoying a baguette on the Seine with friends. After our cooking class, my friends and I went to the river to enjoy our creations and watch the sunset close to the Eiffel Tower. Pretty special!

These are just a few of the moments I've come across during the past ten days. I can't wait to find more moments of joy as the fall continues! 

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Julia Himmelberger

<p>Hi! My name is Julia (she/her) and I'm from Wellesley, MA. I study French and Political Science at St. Olaf College. I love to read, play ultimate frisbee, and swim!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
St. Olaf College
Wellesley, MA
French Language
Political Science
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