The Ups & Downs of Paris

Today’s blog post comes to us from University of Wisconsin-Plateville student & #APIabroad Summer 2019 blogger, Andi Fuerst! She’s studying abroad with us in Grenoble, France.

Day One

I landed in the Charles de Gaulle Airport at 10:30.

Making my way through the facility, I was shaking with excitement. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I was in France. After getting luggage and going through customs, I had to rush through the enormous international airport to meet the group.

After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, two other girls and I walked around Paris. While we did get lost a lot, we still made it to see Notre Dame under construction and the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was nice to meet people who were going through the same situation as me.

Even though we got lost, the city was mesmerizing to me.

There were tons of cute shops, cafes, and restaurants. The roads twist and turn in odd ways. The best thing was seeing all sorts of nature despite being in a big city. On windowsills, there were flowers or small gardens. Bushes and trees lined the street in some areas. And they even had space for beautiful parks in this compact city.

Once we found our way back to the hotel and attended orientation, as our large group, we took a boat tour of the seine. We were finally able to see all of the monuments we had heard about. We saw many of the famous bridges with long histories, museums, gifts from other countries, and of course, the Eiffel Tower. I was struck, not only by how huge it was, but also by how intricate it was.

Saint-Chapelle

Day 2

We started by traveling to Saint-Chapelle, a beautiful ancient church in Paris.

The huge stained glass windows illuminated the room. Each window told a different story from the Bible. Not only were the windows intricate and astounding, but the architecture itself was something to behold. This was a beautiful piece of history.

Versailles

Day 3

During our final day in Paris, we went to Versailles.

The palace was beautifully decorated and had wonderful, grand architecture. The pieces of furniture really brought us back in time. The museum did a good job of entertaining, while still informing the visitors of the history that happened in the chateau.

Now for the pros & cons & my overall thoughts on Paris!

My first day in Paris and France, I was in love with the city. I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. But by day 2, I started to pick up on the things I didn’t like. And day 3, I was pretty much over Paris. It didn’t interest me anymore. Clearly, some of the signs of culture shock.

I found that Paris was a beautiful city of architecture and history. It is a great place to first get to know France, as there are many tourists. Most people don’t care when someone commits a faux pas. Also, many people speak English, which made adjusting to the culture much easier.

My main issue with Paris stems from the fact that I come from a small city. Paris was just too big, too fast, and too stressful. I was always nervous to get on the metro and would always run into people accidentally.

My other problem was that with so many tourists, the monuments felt less impressive. You watch everyone standing in front of the Eiffel Tower taking selfies and posing with friends. In those moments, the monuments seem to lose their magic. As with Versailles, after waiting in line for over an hour, you find your way in and eventually get all the way to the hall of mirrors. Being filled with people, it’s hard to imagine what it would have been like to Marie Antoinette to walk down the corridor alone.

Every city has its ups and downs. Paris wasn’t the city for me. Thankfully, Grenoble is much smaller.

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