My Tourist Phase

Katherine Baldwin
January 21, 2014

Across the Seine from Notre Dame

Paris is incredible. You may look at pictures and think “well that’s nice but Paris can’t always be beautiful… ” but you’re wrong (except for the dog poop everywhere). I have been in Paris for five days now and everywhere I turn is a new nook to explore. With such easy access to the metro and an unlimited pass for the month, it’s easy to hop from one side of the city to the other. My roommate Sara and I have been slowly exploring the city and the many tourist areas. Sunday, the program provided us with a tour bus ride so we got to see more of the city and landmarks for free! It was freezing though, so we stayed on the bus and just marked down areas to explore later when we didn’t need Sherpa to get us through town. As of right now though, I feel very much like a tourist. I’m trying to squeeze so many things into my day in order to see as much as possible. I know that I’ll eventually get tired of going to the Louvre after class (which is free for students of the EU under 26 so maybe I won’t) and want to live my life as a normal Parisienne. I’m slowly transitioning by trying to blend in (which is much harder than it looks!) I look at the other people on the metro and think “Hey, I’m not so different from them! Maybe they have nicer shoes but I can blend…” Then they get off and you notice that certain “Je ne sais quoi” that almost every French person seems to have (but yes Paris still has bag ladies and others who are mal s’habiller).

Sara on our daily walk to the Metro

Other than the general tourism phase I’ve been going through, I’ve been living with a host family which I highly recommend to anyone who’s ever thought of studying abroad. I was very skeptical of living with a French family when deciding between a homestay and the apartments that IES offers. I have friends who have had terrible experiences with their host family and my dad pointed out that “you’ll be a part of their life whether that’s good or bad.” But my family is absolutely amazing! The family consists of the two parents and their four children who do not live here anymore but occasionally stop by and share some insights (like where the hottest nightclubs are haha). I have great conversations with my host mother (in French) about culture and I have already learned so much. Today, we discussed a bit of history of France over tea when I got home. She also has shared some of the current political situation and juicy gossip about François Hollande’s mistresses. So not only am I learning about French cooking, history, politics, philosophy, and culture, but I’m doing it all in French! I’m very lucky I got such a nice family. I live in the 16th arrondissement and my daily commute to the metro includes having an amazing view of the Eiffel tower. I’m beginning to get used to the idea that I’m living in Paris. Today, I went to the grocery store by myself and bought some cheese, while the other day Sara and I went to the boucherie for a chicken and the boulangerie for some pastries sandwiches and bread. I’m excited to start classes next week and learn even more about this amazing city and its people.

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Katherine Baldwin

<div><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);">Hi! My name is Katie Baldwin. I am a junior International Business Major at Saint Joseph&#39;s University. I am a member of my school&#39;s Gaelic football team and a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi. I also work as a technician and a brand ambassador at SJU&#39;s Technology Service Center. I love travelling, painting, and dancing with my friends. I have always dreamed of studying abroad in Paris and that dream is finally coming true!</span></div>

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