One of my favorite memories from studying in Paris was one of my first memories.
After the lovely layover in London with AIFS, I had butterflies in my stomach as I took the tube to Paris.
There were so many unanswered questions: What would my bedroom be like? Who would my host parents be? What would the boulangerie in my neighborhood be like?
As I descended from the tube at Gare du Nord, I stood in line for taxis with my roommate who I had only met hours before. It was comforting to know that we were in this together, and that she knew more French than I! We got in the cab and sat silently, staring out the windows, taking in the sites of Paris: the pedaling bikers, the small children, the shops and window displays.
When the cab turned down a narrow street in the 14th arrondissement, scanning the road for the appropriate address, I was overcome with happiness. I felt at home even though I hadn’t even entered the place I would be staying in for the next few months. We pulled up to a house (there are very few houses in Paris) and I saw a sweet woman staring out the window. She immediately ran out of her robin egg blue door, opened the antiquated iron gate and gave my roommate and I bisous, a greeting I would come to love. She tried to take my bags from me, a first sign of her wonderful hospitality.
When I entered her home, I’m sure my eyes were large. After all, I had to take in the watercolor paintings, the fresh fruit bowls placed around her house, the antique furniture, the crystal barware, and the sunroof over the kitchen table.
Then I noticed that the kitchen table was set. Madame had made us a lunch to welcome us. To this day, I still remember exactly what she made because I felt so welcome in her home: a rotisserie chicken, carrot salad, a regular salad and for dessert, glace, otherwise known as ice cream.
This gesture was one of my favorite memories from my entire time studying abroad. It was my introduction to my sweet Madame who I am still in contact with. It was her kindness that gave me the strength on my first day in a foreign country that I will forever remember.