Leaving the Comfort of Home

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things- air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky- all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

The first time I walked around my neighborhood in Paris, I felt small. The buildings appeared to be larger than they actually were. I was in a foreign country and my family was miles away from me. The first two weeks were hard because I was frustrated by not being able to communicate with the locals as well as I hoped I would.

The street that I live on.

The street that I live on.

The area by my school.

The area by my school.

During a particular incident, I felt completely helpless. I wanted to purchase a French SIM card for my phone. I went into several stores I had researched online before leaving home and the employees all told me the same thing: “Our system is down. We cannot activate any SIM cards.” It was raining heavily that day. My feet were soaked and I just wanted to go home. I thought I was getting this response because the store clerks saw me as a tourist, but finally someone told me the truth. The only way I could get a SIM card quickly was to purchase it at a tabac and activate it myself. I purchased a SIM card and inserted it into my phone but it wasn’t working. I wished my tech-savvy brother could help me with this, however it was 6:00 AM in Chicago. Finally, I figured out what the problem was and my phone worked perfectly fine.

After being in Paris for a month, I feel like a local. At times I still have trouble trying to convey what I want and when I need help, but I have learned to be patient. So for all my fellow students applying to study abroad, patience is key. At first, you will want to go home or start counting down the days, but your experience will get easier. Now I don’t want to leave! I start to get sad just thinking about it. Studying abroad in Paris has truly been the best experience of my life. I’m so in love with this city. I can’t wait to continue to travel the world. I’m ready for the challenge.

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