My first week in Paris is coming to a close, and it’s been a whirlwind adventure to get to this point. My flight for Paris left around 2 pm on Wednesday, so naturally I began packing four months worth of my things at 8 pm on Tuesday. Needless to say, it was a little bit of a race to the finish, but like my parents say — there’s never a dull moment when I’m around.
It was difficult deciding what to take because there was only so much I could fit. Somehow, I managed to bring clothes for summer and winter, power adapters, school supplies, and toiletries to last me the duration of my trip. Waking up on Wednesday morning and realizing that I only had a few hours remaining in my childhood home made me a little nostalgic. It was like leaving for college all over again because everything I was about to experience would be something new and different.
The first leg of my trip took me from Denver to Chicago, and from there I went on to France. It was the first time I had traveled internationally, and I was concerned about the long flight. Luckily, I had an entire row to myself and was able to stretch out and get some sleep. I arrived at 9:30 in the morning at Charles De Gaulle Airport and went to meet the other USC students who had arrived or would be arriving soon. At noon, Mirek, who works for the ACCENT Center, greeted us and took us to a bus to drive into Paris. Those first few nights we stayed in a Hotel in Paris’ 11th Arrondisement so we could acclimate ourselves to the city and the time zone change, which was far more difficult than I thought it would be. Over the course of the first week, we were given intensive French lessons at the ACCENT Center by a retired professor from La Sorbonne, went on a bus tour of Paris, had a guided tour of L’Opera Garnier, and attended orientations to help us learn about Parisian culture. The ACCENT Center even provided us with metro passes, as well as information about where to eat, how to set up our cellphones, and which banks offered the best exchange rates. We even had several meals and a big welcome dinner courtesy of USC and ACCENT. They really made the transition to Paris as smooth as possible.
The next big event was meeting my host family. After spending three days in the hotel, it was time to put down more permanent roots in the City of Lights. I was placed in a taxi and whisked away to the Fifteenth Arrondisement of Paris, where my host family lives. I am living with Madame Charr who has two college-aged sons. She does speak English, but I am working to use as little as possible with her so I can improve my French. I can’t wait to see what this semester has in store!