As my day here comes to a close, I’m so thankful for the past 24+ hours. So many things are going right and I can already tell that my time here in Paris will be a magical one.
You already know the miracle that was my bags passing the weight inspection. And then in Dulles, I ran into a friend from Senegal who will also be teaching English here. Then in my layover in Iceland (it was honestly a 30 minute layover), I ran into someone who had graduated from Elon a year before me and I’m pretty sure I had one or two French classes with her. Now she’ll be here for a bit too!
My first thoughts as I left the airport was that it was colder than I thought it would be and that it felt similar to other places I’ve lived!
I took a taxi from Charles De Gaulle to where I will be staying for the next 3 weeks – the 18th district of Paris. Looking out the window on the taxi ride, I was reminded very much of Senegal and even Nigeria a bit – just the way the highways are laid out. Then we got closer to the city and the traffic was just bumper to bumper. I noticed at times that people drove very much the same way they drive in Lagos, Nigeria – aggressively and how ever they wanted. Then when we got into the neighborhood I live in, the first thing I felt was enclosed. The streets are very small and the apartments are close together. Some buildings looked robust and grand, with flowers at every window sill. Other buildings, more on the outskirts of town, were thin and very square.
These three vertical pictures are the street I live on:
People at the airport and many store front vendors that we talked to as we explored the neighborhood were very straight to the point. Not even sure they exchanged pleasantries before they wanted to get right to the point of why we were talking to them – a very city thing I’m guessing. Others though, were excited that we were American and asked lots of questions. A few were super helpful and talked slowly to us in French or in their broken English. We even got invited out to have beer.
Between the people and the food, today has been the best first day we could have asked for. Jasmine and I found an Airbnb to stay at for the first three weeks and the girl we are renting from is absolutely the sweetest. Her family is originally from Guinea-Bissau but her family has lived in France for about 20 years. She works in Paris and is also in school. She has been nothing but absolutely hospitable – Jasmine and I got really lucky! She bought us a proper French breakfast of croissants, a baguette, brioche, and these other two pastries I didn’t recognize. One had chocolate and cream in it, the other one had white raisins.
After showering, eating and a nice long nap, Jasmine and I woke up and went to explore the area around us. It’s pretty liberating trying to find your way around, not being too sure where you are going. Our main goal was to find adaptors for my chargers and then also to find sim cards for our phones. We stopped at different stores that had different offers and I think we have finally found a phone company we like, and we’ll hopefully get it tomorrow after opening a bank account. There is so much going on in our little area and it was great to just feel like you’re in the middle of everything! Many of the streets were starting to look alike, but we were still able to find our way back based on street names and the businesses that were located at the corner.
We then went to a Jamaican restaurant for dinner that was right around the corner from us – apparently the only one in Paris. The lady there was extremely nice and clearly had all the town gossip. We ended up staying there a while and eating our dinner downstairs with her two young sons. She chatted with us about where we wanted to live and offered to ask around for us. She even told us great places to go party and get our hair done. We’ll definitely be seeing more of her.
All in all a wonderful first day in Paris. Between all the super helpful people we’ve met and the amazing food – I think I’m going to really like it here.