Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Perspective Series-In Paris

This week I'm happy to introduce not just one guest blogger but the three wonderful girls that make up the blog Stamp in My Passport, for the next installment of the Perspective Series. This is a series about expats sharing their experience of living and traveling abroad and how it inevitably changed their outlook and perspective on life. These girls bonded over their time studying abroad in Paris and their travels throughout Europe. Jealous yet? Be sure to stop by their blog to read more of their adventures traveling the world together! 

Emily - It was my junior year of college and I was asking for a sign.  I was sitting in Chapel one day when they were making announcements about Studying abroad. I had always wanted to go but just needed the perfect trip, the perfect city, and the perfect adventure. That’s when they made the announcement, a study abroad trip to Paris for three months and they were offering a discount to get more people interested. So before Chapel was even over I had my dad on the phone and I was making plans with him to set this in motion. 3 things happened pretty quickly after I made my decision. I went to a meeting, I signed a few papers, and I got my best friend to sign up with me. Sam was planning a trip to Greece with our school but she had backed out of that one and Paris was too good to pass up. This was in October of 2011 and we were set to leave January 31st 2012. So you can imagine this all happened pretty fast. We made our arrangements through the school, finished the Semester, went home, packed our bags and flew out of Dallas to meet our group in the Atlanta Airport. That’s actually where we met Jess for the first time. We hit it off instantly with Jess and all three of us became fast friends. We hopped on the plane and took the long flight over to our new home, our La Ville-Lumière, Our Paris! 
Samantha- Life for us in Paris wasn’t as Anna Wintour-esque as I had originally imagined. I pictured myself strolling down the Champs Elysees on the arm of an attractive French man while walking my poodle. Not so, my friends. It wasn’t nearly as glamorous OR romantic. Since we were there for school, we generally had class in the basement of our long term hostel from 8 am to noon. After that, we were free to explore the city {and do homework} all we wanted. Most days you would find us searching for adventure in the Latin Quarter or spending hours on the metro riding all the way to Montmartre to visit the street artists. Perhaps my fondest memories of the entire trip are of the old man at Café Cluny in the Latin Quarter that made the most delicious Nutella crepes. C’est bon! We also went to the Louvre on a regular basis for school assignments and ate a ton of French food, all in the sake of experiencing the culture. Maybe I’m looking back on the experience with rose colored glasses {it wasn’t always sunshine and pain au chocolat, you know}, but that was honestly the best three months of my life, & I couldn’t have imagined experiencing it with anyone different. What we did there and the memories we made certainly changed me for the better. 
Jess- By the end of our week back-packing through the UK, I was ready to come home. I needed a haircut. My two pairs of jeans had seen better days. And I desperately wanted to find a diet coke that wouldn't cost me $7.

My first day back on American soil was filled with trying to catch up on sleep and eating copious amounts of Chick-fil-a. I love a croissant and café au lait as much as the next expat, but nothing can beat fried chicken, waffle fries, sweet tea and chick-fil-a sauce. 

After hitting the highlights of American culture, I proceeded to watch “The Hills” and “Gossip Girls” episodes set in Paris and cry because I wanted to go back. 

I have mixed emotions about being back in the States, so I’ll give a pro/con list about being in the U S of A instead of Paris. 

Pros of living in America: 
-Supertarget. I love that in America you can go to one store and get everything on your shopping list. Food, clothes, home goods, electronics; you name it they have it. 
-Drive-thrus. Because sometimes I don’t want to sit down for a three hour lunch with multiple courses. 
-Family and friends. As much as I loved being in Paris, our lack of reliable internet made Skype sessions difficult. It means the world to be able to text, call and visit family and friends whenever I want.
-Free refills and free water. Need I say more? We’re a thirsty nation who has had to ban 60 oz. drinks in some areas.
-We only speak English. Some might call this a negative, but I see it as a positive. There is one language for the whole country and area. When traveling a few hundred miles in Europe, you might encounter two or three languages. It’s a lose, lose situation.

Cons of living in America: 
-No crepe stand on every corner. I miss nutella and banana crepes every day. The ones in America are few and far between.
-Loud and overwhelming. Americans are rude and obnoxious, generally speaking. I didn’t realize this until I went to Europe. Since being back, I’ve made a conscious effort to be quieter in public. 
-Terrible public transportation. America should take a page out of Europe’s transportation book and design a rail system, at least regional ones, that are affordable.
Thanks so much for writing girls! Be sure to stop by their blog and show them some love! 

If you have lived abroad and would like to be featured please email me at lostintravelsblog@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you!

You can read more of the Perspective Series here.