Week One: Euphoria and Culture Shock

Sophia Raymond
June 2, 2016

It’s officially been a week since I arrived in Paris last Wednesday. Even though I’ve only spent seven days in the city so far, I’ve already made so many memories. Meeting new people, experiencing a new culture first-hand, and attempting to function in a foreign country definitely comes with its ups and downs. But luckily for you guys, this means that I have a plethora of embarrassing moments to share.

So, Paris: “The diamond of the world” as it is sometimes referred to. As a reader of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, admirer of Woody Allen films and all things 20th century, it’s safe to say that I’m a hopeless romantic. I have romanticized Paris for my entire life, and I have finally spent one real week in a place that I had previously only known ethereally as a dream. And even though I am head-over-heels in love with this city already, I learned quickly that a beautiful experience is rarely an easy one.

Within the first few days, my roommate and I had already gotten lost several times. I had a problem with my converter not working on the first night, so I couldn’t charge my computer and enjoy the luxury of Netflix before bed. My classes were overwhelming and nerve-racking: French professors expect a lot of you, and it was a reminder that this trip is not simply a vacation. The language barrier quickly gave me the opportunity to experience what it’s like to desperately want to communicate something, but to be unable to do so. My roommate and I lost power in the apartment two nights ago almost immediately after our host mother went out for dinner with her friends (and in French culture, dinner is a several-hour affair) which left us, WiFi-less, in a quickly darkening, still unfamiliar apartment. And, it has been raining in Paris for almost the entirety of my time here so far – so much so that we have a flash-flood warning and the Seine is rising well over the walkways along its banks!

Because of these struggles I experienced in the first few days, I can definitely say that I was smacked in the face by culture shock. But, although these minor issues may have caused me a bit of discomfort in the moment, they also caused me to laugh a lot, bond with my roommate, and develop certain skills such as decision-making, tapping into my inner confidence, and even learning to use a European oven! In just a week, I feel as though I’ve improved my French vocabulary more than I did in all of last semester as I have gotten lots of practice speaking, listening, reading and writing. I started reading Paris est une fête by Ernest Hemingway, and I’ve spent these rainy days not inside, but walking around (sometimes aimlessly) simply to enjoy the beautiful architecture, cafés, winding streets and lively spirit of this wonderful city. Exploring Paris has been a dream come true so far, and I can’t wait to see what another five weeks will bring! Even though Paris hasn’t exactly matched the dream I had of it, it’s turned out to be even better: It is teaching me as well as wowing me.

Well, after a delicious dinner of escargots (yes, I actually had it for dinner tonight and it was très bon), I have to get some sleep before my last day of classes for the week tomorrow! I am planning on a laid-back shopping day on Friday with my roommate, and we have a group trip to Reims on Saturday, featuring a luxurious wine tasting! I can’t wait.

Looking out of my sixth-floor apartment bedroom window now, I have a beautiful view of the city around me. It still is a dream here, even in the rain. Especially in the rain.

Bonne nuit!


Sophia Raymond

<p>Hi, there! My name is Sophia Raymond and I&#39;m studying Public Relations and Marketing and Indiana University. Curiosity may be what killed the cat, but it&#39;s what fuels me! I&#39;m a writer, designer, and visual arts creator, and I&#39;m an absolute nerd for 20th century history (currently binge-watching CNN&#39;s Decade series). Usually, you can find me rock climbing, painting, or snuggling with my adorable Irish-doodle Sookie, but this summer I&#39;ll be studying abroad in Paris to further my French fluency and explore Europe! Life is a beautiful thing, and I plan on making the most of it.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
Indiana University
French Language
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