Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart

“Paris holds the key to your heart.” Did you expect me to quote a children’s movie from the 90s? I certainly didn’t, but these are the words that came to mind when I sat down to finally write this blog entry. The decision to study abroad was hardly a decision. I’d known that I would spend a year abroad during college from the moment that I first started looking at colleges in high school. I actually had to bargain with my mom when I told her of my plans to study abroad—in order to have her blessing (and funding!) for my year abroad, I’d have to stay relatively close by for the rest of my years in college. Cue an in-state school.

I originally had no idea where I wanted to study abroad, just that I wanted to be in Europe. When my interest in France and its culture began to manifest, Paris presented itself as the best option. I will be studying at the Sorbonne, where all of my classes will be taught in French. My entire French major is built around my year in Paris—without it, I will not be able to have the in-depth knowledge and intimacy with the French language and French culture that I really desire.

The complete list of things I’m excited about is way too lengthy—I won’t bore you with every last thing! Here are a few of the things I really look forward to:

Inside Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris
  • Exploring the Shakespeare & Co bookstore on the Île de Paris and losing myself in its maze of shelves
  • Fresh bread. I cannot emphasize how excited I am over this! I drive half an hour to my favorite bakery every week to get fresh bread at home. Paris has bakeries everywhere—something I will be taking advantage of.
  • Fashion Week and the chance to see fabulously dressed men and women wandering around the Carrousel du Louvre
  • Visiting the Palais Garnier (maybe I’ll find the Phantom of the Opera?)
A typical boulangerie

With my departure date looming ever closer, I’m becoming increasingly nervous. Sure I’ve told people and twittered about the fact that I’m going to Paris for a whole year, but reality still hasn’t hit. Maybe when I try squeezing my entire closet and all of my books into two suitcases, I’ll finally realize that I’m actually going somewhere. For now, I laze around the house and burst into fits of excited nervousness from time to time. I’m sure that I’ll miss my family and the comforts of home (lazy days in pjs, I’m looking at you) but my excitement over being in a new place will be a big help in overcoming homesickness. The fact that I’ll be visiting family in Poland while abroad will do a lot in helping combat my craving for Polish meals and family traditions that I’d otherwise be leaving an eight hour plane ride away.

I’m looking forward to being able to immerse myself so completely in Parisian culture and I can’t wait for the minute that I can actually navigate the metro like a resident, not a tourist. I’ll know I’ve made it at that point!

Joanna Tomczyk
Paris, France
Academic Year 2011-2012 

Photos courtesy of Flickr users jaycross and chris.vandyck

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