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Paris Welcomed Me with Open Arms

by Karina Safaoui
Paris Welcomed Me with Open Arms | AIFS Study Abroad

I walked through the doors of the international terminal at LAX airport with an air of confidence yet uncertainty, for I was leaving the country and way of life I had always known to embark upon a journey to a city that I had dreamed about and admired for as long as I could remember. There was no doubt in my mind that I would change, grow and be influenced by the culture and rich tradition that Paris had to offer, yet I was plagued with an anxiety that had permeated my subconscious and had made itself known. Language barriers, homesickness and other usual suspects were not what caused this feeling, it was the possibility of failure, uncertainty and isolation that scared me the most. I was leaving a system in which I had learned what was needed for success in all realms ranging from academics to friendships and there was no grey area that surrounded it. Leaving that was thrilling and provided a sense of comfort in knowing that the challenge would lead to growth, yet the process to reach that final destination appeared daunting.

Paris Welcomed Me with Open Arms | AIFS Study Abroad

The moment I arrived in Paris truly did feel like a scene from a movie in the sense that everything seemed to be unreal and perfect. The monuments granted me a glimpse into a past life full of monarchy, luxury and revolution. The Seine, full of people on its banks, proved to me that isolationism couldn’t be possible due to the laughter and music that harmoniously blended together to create the perfect ambiance. For me, nothing can ever compare to the way I felt when I landed in Paris, for it was like stepping into the light and feeling warmth radiate throughout your being. The more I perceived the more eager I became to familiarize myself with everything, for even though an academic year produced plenty of time, I didn’t want to miss any of it. The architecture in all it’s grandeur struck me in the most profound way. The magnificence, attention to detail and the way every line and curve told a story was unlike any other. The streets I now walked on transported me to an era that was so unlike mine, yet I could understand everything about it. There is a type of surrealism one gets from a walk around Paris, for it truly does provide one with lessons in history, beauty and in the point of life. (Thomas Jefferson)

Even though it may not seem so right away, everything will start to make sense. You begin to assimilate with the locals and even find friends in some, all while forging incredible friendships with everyone you came here with. I found a balance between what was comfortable and familiar and what scared the life out of me. I realized after my first month that despite the frustrations, homesickness, and the harshness of the French grading system, that I was thriving and wouldn’t trade all my experiences for anything because I am now home.

This post was contributed by Karina Safaoui, who is spending her academic year studying abroad with AIFS in Paris, France.

Transitioning into Life in Paris as a College Student Studying Abroad | AIFS Study Abroad | AIFS in Paris, France

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