I was sick of feeling reliant on everyone else to make me feel better on those days—my parents, my therapist, the select few friends who I had vaguely clued in to my residual issues. I love New York so much, but its analytical nature was wearing on me. I needed to be in a place—both physically and emotionally—where overthinking everything wasn't the MO.
My solution, to the chagrin of my anxious mother, was to study abroad in Paris. Moving across the Atlantic for a few months—with only my high school knowledge of French to help me communicate, no less—was daunting to say the least, and perhaps an odd move for someone in my situation. But part of me knew that this would be the final push that I needed to truly claim my independence again. So I went. I was excited at the prospect of calling one of my favorite cities in the world my home for four months. I also didn't know a soul in my school's program nor the city itself, and was completely, utterly terrified.
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And here I was, standing in my beautiful apartment in the 16th arrondissement, alone. Romance was everywhere, but scoping out a French boyfriend couldn't be further from my mind. After being caught up in Manhattan's mantra of GO!
And I decided that if I was going to be independent, I was going to do it right. So while I was happy to visit my new friends in their abodes across the city, and spend evenings taking advantage of the incredible and incredibly cheap wines that we could pick up at the local alimentaires , I also spent an exceeding amount of time alone. At first, this was difficult, because time alone meant time alone with my thoughts, many of which were still persistently poisonous. But I began to explore the city, purposely avoiding touristy destinations and instead seeking out smaller museums and stumbling upon other gems in the process.
It was just a five minute jaunt from my apartment, far, far away from the touristy hordes of its high-profile constituents. I stood in front of Monet's Impression: Sunrise , the painting that inspired my favorite artistic movement, and I cried. It was the first time in a long time that I was just there, in the moment, appreciating it, without an errant negative thought to taint the beauty. And this would set the precedent for my time in Paris.
Related: Beating the Winter Blues. The magic of Paris is not a myth. Maybe it's the stunning beauty; the atmosphere that makes it feel vaguely lost in time; the history; the art. Maybe it's all in our heads. But imagined or real, it exists, and it was intoxicating and ultimately, restorative for me. For once, I could just be.
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Or weather, haha! I hope you do enjoy London if you go back.
Great piece. Thanks Penny!
I Went to Paris and Fell In LoveWith Myself
I have to say that Paris does have a lot of really beautiful and grand buildings. I absolutely feel the same way as. I too fell in love with London and did Paris after it as well last summer. I traveled to Paris alone so it was a little sad with all of the lovey-doveyness around me, but the moment for me was when the Eiffel Tower sparkled at night; that was my magic moment :D. I bet the Eiffel Tower at night is a glorious sight. But you know what? I love the way you put it.. And I so agree! I hope you have a great time when you go soon!!
LOL yah… Paris is known for the rudeness, crowds, and the iconic subway smell. It gives you another perspective on the city. Surprisingly, I really thought the people there were pretty friendly and helpful except for that first server, lol! That subway smell though.. Anna, you and I sound so alike! I too, for some reason, had never been all that intrigued by Paris especially being a Londoner and then I went only been once and after initial uncertainty, I started to see the magic of it!
For me, Paris was definitely more likable at night than during the day. But I really hope to go back and just relax and do all the stuff I wanted to do, and let Paris grow on me.
Why we call Paris the city of love and romance... but is it really?
Very cute and totally relate-able! My hubby is from Sweden and makes some pretty good Swedish pancakes which I surmise are pretty close to those crepes and he loves Nutella. Well put! Thanks so much!! And omg, homemade Swedish pancakes sound so good!! I adore Paris for exactly the reason you describe it. Small moments, watching the magic unfold.
Taking in the sites, breathing in the history. Sigh, I wish I was in Paris! Except for that first server girl we encountered was kinda aloof. But really, I thought most people were very helpful and friendly.
I hate Paris.
I do want to go back and experience more of those small moments! Your first dinner with bad service and average, over-priced food is what I experienced in Paris at first. Anything else I attempt to say is just butchering their language. Paris is hyped up, but now I do get why everyone wants to visit.
Ah Paris. I let thinking I would. Sounds exactly like my feelings!
Except my first meal was bad, hehe. But the food did get better and better!
I think compared to London, Paris feels dirty and not as grand. I hope you got to experience some of the Parisian nightlife?