Bienvenu à Paris!

Katie Johnsen
September 12, 2015

Finalement! I have arrived in Paris and am settling into my homestay chez la famille Julienne in the 16e arrondissement. Despite precautions on my part to avoid the classic Paris clichés, I can't resist saying that I am already feeling like a French writer as I look out onto the rainy Parisien street in front of the Julienne's Hausman style immeuble. Sorry, had to. But now that the obligitory Hemingway/Midnight in Paris comparison is out of the way, I can get into the details of my first week in Paris.

I arrived to Charles de Gaule airport early last Tuesday morning, after a long and relatively sleepless flight on AirFrance-during which I got into the spirit by boldly ordering a glass of champagne and proceeding to watch an unexpectantly depressing French thriller film. Soon enough, my roommate Frannie and I were on our way to our beautiful homestay on the right bank. When we arrived we were greeted by a tiny elevator and five flights of French stairs that were immediately in competition with our four American-sized bags. I'll let you guess who won. Up on the 4e étage (which, we soon learned, is what we call the 5th floor in the U.S.), the six of us bumbled into the elegant flat and met our host mother who gave us a tour of their home and then offered us a snack of fromage blanc-which we soon learned was not "white cheese" as the direct translation would suggest, but rather a type of plain yogurt.  In the afternoon, we explored the quaint neighborhood and its cafés and fresh produce, cheese, wine, and meat markets whose drifting smells quickly made us hungry again. As we walked, we munched on our first French baguette of the trip, which was delightfully warm (we never get warm bread in Washington!).

Even though the rest of the week has passed quite quickly, we have managed to squeeze in as many activities and excursions as we could, with little to no downtime. We are all so excited to be here and are anxious to make every moment count, but I have to keep reminding myself that I am going to be living here in Paris for four months and don't have to cram everything in right away. And most importantly, I do need to get some sleep! Some highlights from the week have been enjoying café crémes on the sunny sidewalks of French bistros and cafés, getting fresh squeezed orange juice from a produce market on the way to class, navigating le métro, walking through Paris in the rain, going out to French bars and clubs for the first time, exploring and shopping in le Marais, and taking a double-decker bus tour around the center of the City and the Seine. I'll try to avoid making you jealous by naming all of the delicious food I've been eating by limiting it to the one stand-out meal of the week. This week it would have to be the veggie, mozzarella, and tomates séchés sandwhich followed by the blueberry cheesecake and buttery sugar cookie I had at the very hipster "Broken Arm" café in le Marais.

All that said, here's to the weeks to come and à bientôt!


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Katie Johnsen

<p>Hi, I&#39;m Katie Johnsen, a 3rd year student at the University of Virginia. I am a Media Studies and French double major studying abroad in Paris this semester in the Business &amp; International Affairs program. I enjoying writing, photography, and exploring new places and people, and am excited to share my abroad experiences with you!</p>

2015 Fall
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French Language
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