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It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve already been in Paris for a week. I have three left, and then I’ll move on to Scotland and Iceland. People have been asking what I do with my time, so here are some highlights from this past week:

1. I walk. A lot. I’m talking probably four or five hours a day, sometimes knowing where I’m going and often times not. Paris is incredibly friendly to walk through; it’s easy to get lost and to get a little more lost and then to inevitably figure out where I am. I have a map with me all the time, and sometimes use it. More often than that, though, I look at the maps posted above the Metro, figure out the street that I should take to get to my destination (if there is one, which is rare), and take a different one.

2. I take French classes. I’m not sure how much I have learned, but surely spending four hours a day in a classroom that is a constant stream of French must be helping? Peut-être. Peut-être pas (can I say that?). Today I thought this to myself: Why is my French teacher walking around pretending she has a corpse on her back and flailing at the map of France and talking about the big people at the outdoor market? What the hell is happening here?!

Oh. Wait. It turns out that she was just getting ready to ask me a question about the immigration policy of the United States. I didn’t see that coming (though everyone else turned towards me without missing a beat).

3. I meet people. This is a big deal because – as an introvert, especially – it’s not the easiest thing in the world for me to seek out opportunities to talk to people I don’t know. I’m determined to do it, though, and so I have been doing things like attending events that involve ping-pong with total strangers, going out with friends of friends who I have never before met, and trying to remind myself of the fact that this time is fleeting. It’s pretty incredible, really, and I couldn’t be more proud of the four numbers now nestled in my little French phone.

4. I write. Before I left the U.S., a friend said to me that I didn’t need to worry about writing, and that I should just let my words arrive as they do, without expectation, knowing they may transform at a later point. So far, that means that I’ve mainly been journaling. I’m keeping a keen record of my days, both in terms of my experiences and in terms of my emotions, in two different journals that go just about everywhere with me. I can’t seem to write enough. I have a feeling that it’s time well spent right now.

5. I sit back and watch. This culture, while still Western and familiar in so many ways, is different from the United States. Part of the reason I wanted to come to Paris was to learn a bit about taking more time to appreciate beauty, and conversation, and food. This part of Paris, the one that encourages people to enjoy life, is wonderful. I think – I hope – that some of that is soaking in, enough so that I can carry it with me from here on out, wherever I may wander.

All right – this isn’t an exhaustive list, or even an extensive one, but perhaps it gives a glimpse into what some of this time is like. There is much more, of course (I haven’t mentioned cafés…or window shopping…or the parks…or lunch…or…), and I’m sure those things will emerge here eventually. For now it’s time to put my computer away. I have plans tonight, and they involve the nearby canal and wine, and whatever other French moments I can capture on my deuxieme vendredi ici.

The map upon which my French teacher flails. I think she's trying to tell me something.

The map upon which my French teacher flails. I think she’s trying to tell me something.

 

One comment on “Maps are our friends

  1. Love reading your musings as you travel, Anna. Now I am convinced I have to visit Scotland!

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