|View from La Seine|
I jumped right back into work just 2 days after getting home, so it was nice to be able to revive my bank account for a month or so before heading back to school. As I work in a grocery store, I deal with lots of people every day, and at the beginning I couldn't help but notice a few things during my shifts. First off, all the people I saw seemed so much larger than Parisians! I decided this was due to one of two reasons:
1. America is mildly obsessed with the whole "work-out" culture, thus people (and especially a lot more guys) work out more in the US and consequently have more muscle tone and are less gangly in comparison with the lean, skinny-jeaned variety you find in Paris.
2. People here are, generally speaking, just fat.
This isn't an attack on Americans or the American lifestyle, but after living in a culture where you spend so much more time each day walking (to the nearest metro station, through the metro, climbing up & down stairs, walking down the streets, strolling through parks/museums/shops, etc.) because driving through Paris is surely not the most practical or time-saving way to get around, eating small meals which are very spaced out throughout the day, and generally leading a much more active lifestyle, it's easy to see why the French are all as small as they are. I know I definitely adapted to this lifestyle while in Paris, and upon arriving home I sometimes (still!) feel like I am going to go stir crazy just sitting around and reading all my books for homework, sitting at my computer writing papers, sitting in my car while stuck in crazy Providence rush-hour traffic...frankly, I have grown to dislike the American sedentary way of life. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot I can do to change it, especially when my schoolwork keeps me glued to my desk chair for hours on end, but whenever I have time during the week or on the weekends I crave getting up and moving around - whether it's to the gym, taking a stroll around the mall, or doing obligatory things like grocery shopping.
|One of Paris' many cheese shops...how I miss them!|
|I miss French chocolate mousse!|
A few more things that I noticed (although this is by no means an exhaustive list, as I'm still realizing things on a daily basis):
-We didn't have a clothes dryer in our apartment in Paris, so I had to hang my laundry out to dry every week instead of just popping it in a machine. Whenever the dryers at school would be full or broken, I used to see this as a major inconvenience that I'd have to use a drying rack and spend 4 hours drying my clothes instead of 40 minutes. Now, it's really not a big deal!
-Having my own car back is great. It's nice to be able to get in and go shopping for clothes, groceries, etc. at my own convenience and not have to waste time waiting for the metro or feel claustrophobic during rush hour when there's barely enough room to breathe inside.
|Gorgeous weekly flower markets in Paris|
-I really appreciate the convenience of unlimited text messages on a phone with a full keyboard! Although I was able to use Facebook and Skype to keep in touch with my friends and family while I was gone, I always felt a little out of the loop when I'd see something that made me think of someone back at home and not be able to snap a quick picture of it or send a stupid message just because I could. While I had a phone and could send texts at 19 cents a pop while in Paris, I really used it sparingly and now appreciate being connected with all of my friends again - including those I made in Paris and can now freely text from home!
|Say "bonjour" to my little friend...|
I know I'll definitely go back to Paris in the future and can safely say that spending a semester abroad was the best thing that I've ever done. I was so lucky to be given the opportunity to study and travel in a foreign land, and would advise anyone and everyone who can make a choice about working studying abroad into their education to jump on the next available flight!!
Happy travels! And always remember: la vie est ailleurs....