We left Luxembourg and headed for France. Our train was on route for Paris. Going from Luxembourg to Paris was a major change in scenery. We were leaving a country with a population near 500,000 to a city of more than 11 million in the metropolitan area. My many years of studying French were really being put to the test. After arriving, I realized I could use a few more years studying French. Regardless, I did my best and it was very much appreciated by the French people. People are much friendlier when you attempt to speak in their native tongue. It invites a much more relaxing and comforting consultation. Obviously it’s difficult to carry on conversations in languages that are foreign to us, but the simple attempt to speak the language can go a long way. Luckily, most people speak English as their second language in Europe. It’s a nice gesture to attempt to speak the native tongue first. This can be beneficial wherever you are in the world. If someone immediately comes up to you speaking a foreign language, it may make you feel uncomfortable. You may even consider it rude. Assuming someone speaks your language can come off slightly arrogant. Even though most people do speak English, you should not assume this for everyone. Learning a simple phrase such as, “Do you speak English,” can benefit you a great deal. People are more than willing to help and we needed our fair share of assistance. Traveling foreign countries by train, with only a backpack, without an itinerary leads to many questions needing to be answered. We managed a lot ourselves, but the people we met along the way made the trip much easier.
We finally arrived in Paris with a great deal of eagerness. France provided a lot to see and we only had so much time to see everything. Our first goal was to find a hostel. As usual, we had not found a place yet, so the search began. Hostels were a bit more expensive in France as expected, but there were plenty to choose from in the city. Ones with vacancy were a little more difficult to find. Not everyone was as adventurous as us to visit Paris without a plan. Some may call it crazy, but we considered it all a part of the experience. Adapting to new conditions and environments on the fly without a plan provided great lessons. It challenged us to think, act, and adapt much more quickly to our surroundings. Everyone should face a similar challenge because it will make you a stronger person in the long run. Some things just can’t be taught in a classroom. We eventually found a place to stay, so it was time for our tourist side to surface. We visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, the Louvre Museum, The Arc de Triomphe, The Catacombs of Paris, and walked as many streets of the city as possible. At one moment, we simply sat by the riverside and watched this classical, modern, and energetic city function together. We took in everything we could and learned from observing.
Not everything was about sightseeing, but simply taking in different aspects of the city’s environment. We wanted to see as much as possible, but not miss out on the simple luxuries. At times, we tried to detach ourselves from our touristic selves and enjoy the simplicity of the thriving city around us. This included enjoying a two-hour meal on the street side, enjoying conversation, and watching people pass us by. We also spent another two hours lying on the grass near the Eiffel Tower. We did not always need to be moving to be experiencing. Paris provided us with many things to see, but more importantly, things to enjoy. The city provided an awe factor that always kept our eyes wide and curious. We looked at everything as something we might never see again and had never seen before in our lives. Every street provided this awe factor and provided a new sense of excitement on every turn. This made me wonder if I could see myself living here in the future. Some places are great to visit and others are great to live. Paris provided a desire for living with its vibrant and exciting city atmosphere. The city offers everything you could need and more.
I don’t see myself moving to Paris anytime soon, but after my visit the thought has been implanted in my mind. Spending a few days in Paris only gives you a desire to experience more, but the time came for us to move on. It took us longer than expected to get out of Paris, but the extra day in Paris provided no problems. It was a pleasure to stay an extra day, but there was still so much left to see. It was time to work our way from Paris to Nice and make some stops along the way. The journey continued…
-By Mike Minnock (Studying Integrated Marketing Communication)