Movement

Study Abroad Gap Year in Paris, France - Parisian skyline

 

I’ve been in Paris for a little less than three weeks now and have ultimately been moving non-stop since. Between the overwhelming feelings of anticipation before departing, continuous orientation activities upon arrival, the beginning of classes, and attempting to get acclimated to the city, it feels as though I’ve lived here for years already. Downtime has been a rare and valuable concept since I’ve gotten here, which explains why I’ve decided that Sunday is my favorite day of the week in Paris. On Sundays, the majority of businesses are closed, leaving almost only tourist attractions open. It’s a day devoted to leisure and relaxation; Paris (and European cities in general) may not move at the most rapid of paces, but city life can rarely be considered leisurely. One of my friends and I took a walk through the park across the street from our dorm on one beautiful Sunday afternoon and surprisingly enough, this may have marked the moment I began to fall in love with Paris.
On this afternoon, the often-concealed sun shined brightly through the clouds and the wind was brisk but bearable. Families were out with their children, dogs were running through the fields excitedly, and joggers of all athletic levels filled the paths. While strolling through this residential park, I wasn’t keenly aware that everyone was speaking a different language as I usually am and I didn’t immediately distinguish myself from them solely because of where I’m from. I merely walked through the park with my friend, watching the children laughing on the playground and the couples talking on the benches. In that moment, I didn’t feel like an American living in Paris, but rather an active participant in French culture. It made me think of Charles Baudelaire’s notion of the “flâneur,” which ultimately means “stroller,” “man of leisure,” or “observer” and is applied predominantly to urban Paris life in the 19th century. I can now appreciate this term more because, in a city setting, you can get so caught up with the hustle and bustle of everyday life that you forget to sit back and recognize where you are and who you’re surrounded by.

While studying abroad, it’s easy to take for granted the city you’re living in. It’s important to slow down and find a place in your city that makes you appreciate your current location, whether that be in a residential area crowded with locals or in front of your city’s most renowned attraction. While walking through a park in the 14th arrondissement on that beautiful Sunday, I began to fall in love with the city of love. For me, it wasn’t because of the always awe-inspiring tourist attractions scattered throughout the city, but rather because I felt assimilated into everyday Parisian life.

Study Abroad Gap Year in Paris, France - In the park

This post was written by Lauren M., who studied with us in Paris, France.

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