Well the day came, I cried and said goodbye to my parents, boyfriend, and best friend. I did my time waiting in airports and on planes and I made it to Paris, France. There were of course some unexpected bumps along the way. My suitcase was 10lbs overweight, which cost a lot more than I initially thought. My host mother’s mom died and my host mother was unable to welcome me herself. But her son and a neighbor took good care of me. Life and travel come with many curveballs, you just need to take them as they come and go with it. That being said, I did cry a lot. Like a lot a lot. More than I’m proud of. But I picked myself up and kept going. That’s how I got to today, the end of my second day in Paris and the end of my first day of orientation.
Orientation, though good for learning some of the ins and outs of the program and the city, also has left me terrified to go anywhere or do anything, especially if it’s after dark or alcohol is involved. Will I get over these fears? Probably. A friend tried to soothe me saying that’s it’s like learning the “Stop Drop and Roll” program in the US. Having spent so much time studying that, I grew up thinking that being on fire was going to be a way bigger problem than it really is. It is still a concern and it’s still good to know what to do on the off chance that the situation arises, but all in all, not that likely to happen. I’m hoping my friend is right and the same applies to the things I was warned of today.
I was simply thrilled to learn that the people in my program and nice and just as terrified in many ways as I am. There’s a solidarity in that. And hopefully we’ll all adjust soon and be able to quell those fears together and independently (If that makes any sense). I did learn the hard way that acquiring a working cellphone isn’t as easy as it seems. We’re required to have a working “charged” cell phone with as at all times for the sake of safety in the IES program. I already has a French SIM card, but I needed to activate it and buy minutes or a plan. It took a solo trip, getting chided by a clerk, getting lost, crying over it all, and trying to get help from my parents and my aunt for me to decide it would be easier to just get a new card and start from scratch. So that is what I did. Second time worked out perfectly and I now have a working cellphone!
All in all, as I quickly approach the end of my first week in Paris I am still cautious and frightened of everything that can go wrong, but my confidence is building and I can see how people fall in love with this city. Hopefully I can be cliché soon and say ‘Pairs, je t’aime.”
I will check in again at the end of the first month. But until then it’s time to go out and do great things. Allons-y!