“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
I can still hear Jillian Michaels saying this in one of her workout videos as I struggled to hold a plank position in my living room. This phrase applied to almost every workout of hers that I completed. It’s this absence of comfort that makes us stronger in the long run. Little did I know that the quote would also become my mantra as I traveled by myself to Paris for the weekend.
Being abroad has reminded me of how easily we take for granted the sense of familiarity that resides in us as we go through our daily home routines. We know how to get to school, to work, and to other everyday places without taking one second to stop and think.
I guess I should have anticipated this uncomfortableness as I traveled between countries. It resides like the sense of anticipation you get before making that first descent on a rollercoaster. It acts as a reminder that I would be coming home with a renewed sense of self upon touching down on U.S. soil.
One weekend in March, I flew to Paris by myself to meet up with my roommates who had left a day early. I was wary of the language barrier I would face upon touching down, and I prayed that my basic knowledge of Spanish would at least allow me to figure out common French words. I knew I would have to figure out how to use public transportation to get to my hostel, and I relied heavily on the directions my roommates had texted me that morning.
I successfully made it on the train that would take me about 20 minutes outside of the city center to our hostel. As I nestled in for the ride (it was packed with people coming from the airport), I looked across my seat and realized that I was sitting next to my grandmother’s French doppelgänger. I smiled as she read her daily newspaper, grateful for a little reminder of home.
45 minutes and a switch to the metro later, and I was that much closer to finding familiarity in the sight of my roommates. I came out of the metro tunnel with bags in hand and faced a roundabout surrounded by streets that would lead me to the hostel.
“That wasn’t so bad,” I thought to myself as I lugged my duffel bag over my shoulder.
I spoke too soon because within five minutes of walking down the streets, I was completely turned around. I was told by my roommate that I should take the street directly in front of the metro tunnel to get to the hostel. I didn’t find out until later that there were multiple metro stops by the same roundabout.
“Parlez vous Anglais?” I asked both a store clerk and a passerby. Thankfully, they spoke English. Unfortunately, they had no idea where the hostel was located.
At this point, I was dripping sweat after walking up and down the same streets in the hopes that I had just been missing the sign for the hostel. In a last ditch attempt, I stopped a painter who had a bucket and brush in hand and asked if he had any idea.
One Google Maps search later from the painter, and I found Oops! Hostel that I had been trying to locate for at least a half hour. This was one of the nicest hostels I stayed in while in Europe. We booked a 4-person co-ed room with a private bathroom, and I was impressed with how clean and modern it looked. If you’re looking for a place to stay in an upcoming Parisian adventure, I would highly recommend this relatively cheap housing option. Upon walking into the hostel, I saw my roommates in the lobby and knew that the trip was only going to get better from here.
So, I guess I’ll spare you the rest of the nitty-gritty details from now on and let the pictures once again do the talking about my travels. As I found out the only way one can by actually traveling to the City the Light, Paris is always a good idea.
During my time spent alone in the city, I went on a hunt for the well-known Cafe Flore, a place visited by people including Pablo Picasso, Truman Capote, and Ernest Hemingway. It has even been featured in shows like Gossip Girl and the indie film Frances Ha starring Greta Gerwig. I previously wrote a blog post on this film because it features many sights of Paris that I hoped to one day see in person. It was exciting to finally happen upon the cafe that Gerwig’s character sprints by in the film.
Paris still remains one of my favorite cities I visited while abroad. There’s just something about the City of Light that makes you never want to leave.