Tour de mon Voisinage

I’ve arrived in Paris.

I took the chunnel from London, I was surprised to realize that the train takes a little over 2 hours, and we were only underground for about 15 minutes.  I then took a cab from the train station to my apartment in the 5th arrondissment, Rue Poliveau.  I usually don’t take cabs, but I brought a lot of books, as I have a thesis to write.  My bags weigh over 70 pounds, more than half my weight.

My landlord is all that I could ask for, she’s interesting and interested. She has 5 children all around my age, I’ve met two of the eldest.

This morning I took a long walk around my neighborhood.  I kept on stumbling across people dancing, it was quite beautiful.

This was right outside of an open air market, there was one person playing the accordion, another with the flute and the rest was recorded.

openairmarketopen air market

Afterwards I walked along the Seine, cerca de the outside sculpture garden. Here there were people taking waltz dance lessons, although I couldn’t tell if they paid to take the lessons.  It seemed like the onlookers would casually join in.

And here’s a bit of the sculpture garden:


I live close to a Muslim neighborhood, so I also came across the local Mosque:


I’m also close to the Jardin de Plantes, the largest outdoor gardens in Pairs.

jardin de plantesInside the Jardins is the Natural History museum, complete with the Evolution Exhibit:

evolution exhibit2Would this even be allowed in the U.S.? I mean, I know that there is the Creation Museum, but I feel like an Evolution Exhibition would not be considered P.C. in the U.S. of A.



Well, I’ve touched down in London.

A part of me can’t totally believe that this is reality, that I really redirected the plan I’d had for the past two years.  Montana always seemed like the next logical step, a good mix of the familiar with the unexplored. Paris, or anywhere else really, was never considered.

I think that we need to balance the later and the now.  There are some things that we need to push through, like getting a degree or saving up for a big trip, in order to open up possibilities for our future.  Other things, like picking up and moving to Paris, are done because they feel right in the now. If we focus too much on the future, we become preoccupied with the idea of should.  In other words, we do what we feel we are supposed to do instead of what we feel is right. This, being here right now, is right.

London is great, its strange because its not entirely foreign.  American culture and British culture are relatively similar, and I can speak to people on the street without issue. I’m staying with my friend Lisa, who is in the last week of writing her thesis at LSE. I’ve been in London for 40 hours, and I’ve already been dancing at a pub in Brixton, seen the (outside of) St. Paul’s Cathedral, Parliament/Westminster, taken a long walk along the river and been sat on by the elderly.  Yes, that’s right, sat on.  There’s a strange violation of personal space here.  In New York, we’d just tell someone to move.  In London, they push you and you’re just supposed to get the hint.


I arrived in Paris after waking up in Amsterdam and spending the day in Brussels.  I took the train to Brussels, put all of my things in a storage locker, and toured the city for the day.  I had three goals in Brussels: European Union Parliament, beer and chocolate.

I’d been reading the Herald Tribune while traveling, and the Tribune frequently mentions the EUP, so I wanted to see this place for myself.  I didn’t have enough time to tour the building, I just metro-ed to the EUP, took a photo and stood there to get the sense of the place, and metro-ed back into town. The reasoning behind beer and chocolate is self-explanatory.

I got into Paris late, and basically just went straight to my hotel.  I stayed in Pierre Laval, technically a suburb of Paris, but its just outside the city border.  I was in a tiny and beautiful hotel room.  The room was the perfect size for me, the bath was not enclosed, but was parceled away from the bed. The window looked to the south, towards the Eiffel Tower. I couldn’t quite see the ET from my window, my view was waves of Parisian rooftops.

I consider pretty much everything to be in walking distance, and so I walked from my hotel to the Arc de Triumph (30 minutes) to the Eiffel Tower (45 minutes) and then all along the Champs de Elysees (all day). I realized I never wanted to leave Paris 15 minutes into this long walk.

It was strange and almost indescribable. It was totally irrational, I speak about 20 words in French and have a terrible accent.  It was not within my 6 month plan, I had planned to go to Missoula Montana and write my thesis.  It was not financially responsible, the cost of living is comparably high in Paris (although, I’m from New York and was living in D.C., so everything seems cheap to me). I don’t know anyone in Paris, whereas I have a lot of connections to Missoula and within the United States.

But, trumping all of those rational reasons not to was an overwhelming feeling that I had to be in Paris.  We just connected.  I wanted to learn about the city, to understand it.  I also wanted to know nothing about it,  just appreciate it for its aesthetic beauty. I guess I fell in love.

And so, unhappy to part from this new love, I returned to the states a few weeks later and made arrangements to go to Paris for the fall.  I’ll be living in the 5th arrondissment, the oldest of all of the sections of Paris.  I’ll be living a 5 minute walk from the Seine and Jardin de Plantes. I found a room in an apartment through a friend of a friend of a friend of my aunt Dana (networking!).

Georgetown, in its benevolence, is allowing me to take my last semester abroad.  I actually see Paris as a continuation of my Georgetown education.  For the past two and a half years I’ve been learning about European history, and Paris is historicially a philosophical center of Europe.  Where better to write my thesis??

In preperation for my trip, I’ve been reading “Seven Ages of Paris,” by Alistair Horne.  I’m happy to discover that I know more about Paris than I thought, all thanks to the BALS program at Georgetown.

I’ll also be taking a French class during my time abroad.  I’m an awful speller, but I’m not too bad at learning languages.  Fortunately, French words actually make sense.  I’ve been surprised to realize the close relationship between French and English vocabulary.  Sure, the words are pronouced totally differently, but the root of the words is strikingly similar.  When a French word is unlike its English counterpart, its usually similar to its Spanish counterpart (I can get by in Spanish).  So, it all sort of makes sesne.

Paris is the perfect place to write my thesis. I went to Paris to see a Kandinsky exhibit at the Centre Pompideu. Wassily Kandinsky was an abstract Hungarian artist who lived in Munich.  The exhibit is actually traveling to the Gugenheim on September 18th, so for all you New Yorkers out there – I highly recommend this incredible exhibit. It makes sense that writers and artists come to Paris to produce, there’s an incredible Stadtgeist to Paris.

I also have a fantastic online job.  As long as I have internet, I can literally be anywhere in the world.

I’m excited. I leave at the end of this month.