24 Things I Learned While Studying Abroad In Paris

24 Things I Learned While Studying Abroad In Paris

Paris is a city unlike any other.

Studying abroad is an irreplaceable experience, my time in Paris now a cherished memory. I lived and I (most definitely) learned. These are the things that Google doesn't tell you before you go It’s important to research customs before traveling to a new country.

1. The importance of experiences > things.

2. Knowledge is empowering.

3. The French can detect Americans from a mile away.

4. Uber is a legitimate lifesaver.

5. Length truly doesn’t define the quality of a friendship.

6. Sometimes it is okay to just go with the flow of things.

7. I could never live in a fashion capital because I love comfy clothes too much.

8. That smoking cigarettes, even in Disneyland Paris, is completely acceptable.

9. Jet-lag is a real thing.

10. Raising your hand at your server in a restaurant is expected, otherwise they won’t ever come back to check on your table.

11. Grafitti is an absolute art.

12. You have to fight for a place on the suburban train in the morning.

13. Open-mic nights are a must.

14. Microwaves, air conditioning, and window screens are unheard of.

15. The French like to stare.

16. “To go boxes” are not a thing.

17. Pizza is delivered via moped.

18. They don’t believe in Ranch dressing (devastating, I know).

19. Milka chocolate bars are to die for.

20. Making friends with the locals is beneficial.

21. Public restrooms are not free.

22. Seeing the Eiffel Tower at night really is magical.

23. The content on Netflix changes when you leave the country.

24. Living in Paris was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Cover Image Credit: Breanna Gereg

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Love Belonged to the Seconds

Sarendipity Under the Gold Statues

She felt the night was happy under the spell of a rite. The wish of a random fate had gathered them under the gold goddess statues. Listeners, dancers, viewers, lovers, singles, young and old, almost in harmony of sounds. The darkness of the night and the golden light beauty was dominant. She decided to stand on the side of the marble ground that decorated every dancer’s shadow. Each silhouette looked wild dancing freely over the white stones, beautifully shaped by woman's heels. Even the statues, standing still above their heads looked real. Looking almost jealous over the careless dancers undisturbed by each other presence. It was as if the serendipity of a random fait gathered them in that place.

She enjoyed looking at people dancing around her. There was something irresistible to see their body curved in different directions carelessly. They were unknown to each other, strangers connected with the rhythm of music and the rite of their body. Their shadows’ reflection gave a nostalgic look to the old brick walls looking as if they were ready to melt at any moment. The statues above their heads added to the grandiose momentum.

People surrounding her reflected a genuine smile all over her face while repetition of sound seemed to overwhelm the night that almost felt seductive and melancholic. Suddenly she was surrounded by random people, although drunk by the rhythm, she danced with one only. The energy was inevitable to ignore and made her blush of her thoughts. Everything was unruled. The shapes around her distorted light, in harmony. She felt included in something that was randomly and beautiful. Her dance became a prisoner of her feelings, and him, facing her, turned the night into a serendipity. She did not understand what he said to her, but instinctively felt the strange curiosity painted with young men's testosterone that made her even more attractive.

Can someone fall in love simply when stopping the time for a couple of seconds randomly? What made her attractive, so fast with the speed of light? In a split second she observed so much of herself and him in front of her. She designated no name for it. Nothing was equal to the meaning anyway. The dictionary struggled in limitation when describing the being of that momentum. She memorized his eyes, that where big like an avatar and strangely colored. His movements were slow and gentle. Not a good dancer at all. At times would stump over her toes, apologetic not much in words but with a smile. There was something very peaceful in his entire presence, that suddenly relaxed her.

They observed at each other without looking. It was so abstract, but so true. Her perfume made a cocktail with his fresh aroma from the shower, mixed with the body heat. His lips had sculpted a slightly permanent smile, while he barely spoke. His words were very limited, almost not there. She preferred that indeed. Who needed the words. Both had a way of ignoring things, but details never escaped. Only time escaped, so fast, until suddenly the world between them was interrupted with the same casualty. Serendipity was playing a chess game. He was lost within the crowd while she felt she was looking at no direction in love with the hole rite of that night. A stranger became her love. Such love had an endless ending. It was not the eternity that made love but something else, more simple. Maybe, just maybe, love belonged only to the seconds. After all the world was full of serendipity.

Cover Image Credit: Fatjona Lubonja

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Take Every Chance You Get

You never know what you might miss.

There are some occasions in life where we get amazing opportunities that we simply cannot pass up. I got an opportunity like this last summer when I got the chance to go to Tolmin, Slovenia with a wonderful group of people. Although I had never met most of them, we all bonded quickly and I'm glad to call them my friends.

Throughout the trip, we obviously had to stop and experience the local sights. Our primary purpose for the trip was a basketball camp, but we still had some free time. One day during our lunch break, several of us went to the visit the River Soca.

If you've never seen the river, I highly recommend it. It's a huge river with the prettiest teal waters that sparkle and shine--they're dangerously inviting. The water makes you want to just jump in, but it's actually freezing cold. We discovered this the hard way.

As we approached the water, we knew we didn't have all that much time to spend. We decided to simply take off our shoes and step into the shallower end of the water. It was so cold that it actually hurt a bit--but it was so worth it.

As we got braver, we ventured out further and further. And as we went further, we began finding small rocks and stones. It wasn't long before we started throwing the stones near each other to splash the cold water up. Pretty soon, we were seeing who could find the largest rocks, and we ended up picking up rocks that rivaled the size of our own heads and catapulting them towards each other.

At one point, one of my friends found what was probably the biggest rock any of us found that day. When she went to pick it up, though, chaos ensued. She tried to pick it up out of the water but it was so heavy that it dragged her down all the way into the water. So what did I do? Well, I did what any good friend would do and I laughed. I laughed all the way until she pulled me down into the water with her.

It was so, so cold. I don't think there's a way to describe it in words. It felt like being submerged in an ice bath. I normally don't like the cold, but this was surprisingly refreshing. Of course, only until we resurfaced and realized we now had to make the ten-minute walk through the streets of Tolmin barefoot, soaking wet, freezing, and smelling vaguely of fish.

Was it worth it? Definitely. We walked back proudly, albeit dripping, and we shared our adventures with the others back at camp. They thought it was hilarious, which it was, but it was also an experience I am so glad I had. I may have gotten soaked and had to walk around in damp clothes the rest of the day, but if I hadn't gone, I would never have been able to see the blue waters of the river and make the friends that I did that day. And I wouldn't trade that for the world.

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Smith

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