I flew out on August 24th, I think. The day before was spent saying goodbye to everyone and the night was spent packing my life into one large suitcase. My whole family was staying over to see me off the next morning, and as stressful as that should have been, I found it to be comforting. In a way, I think the sense of apathy and “meh” was lingering after high-school. I was neither anxious nor excited. It was just a thing — I’m going to uni.
Okay. I was met in the airport by AUP’s representatives that took me to the FIAP (the entire hostel was booked for orientation and as a temporary accommodation for people while they look for apartments). Also, less than 2 hours of being in the city and I was already on TV.
That’s me in the hat — a staple in my Paris wardrobe.
One of the things that strikes me the most upon arrival is how large and beautiful the Eiffel Tower is. I’ve seen it on pictures and in movies, but in no way was I prepared for seeing it for the first time through the window of the Volkswagon van that took us from the airport to the hostel. Days, weeks, months, and years have passed, but when I went to Paris in August of ’14 (I will definitely write about that too, at a later time) I was still amazed by its beauty. No amount of hours spent drinking wine next to it, flooding my instagram with pictures of it, or seeing it every day on my way to/from university can take away the magic.
The first week there was spent getting used to the city by indulging in any activity I found to be entertaining or interesting, regardless of its price. This sort of messed up the rest of the semester I had left in Paris because I was in constant financial struggles, but at least I had a place to live. I rented a tiny (really tiny) room on the 5th (6th) floor of a Parisian building in the 16th. I could see the tip of the Eiffel Tower from my balcony/window which was the source of many phallic jokes in the months to come. It wasn’t particularly nice, but it had a bed, shower, little kitchen, a table, and still some room to walk around a little bit.The landlords were amazing. The man was always interested about Ukraine and I always enjoyed speaking to them, because each time they would tell me something interesting about their life, and each time I was able to tell them more about myself, because my French was improving.
The two-month budget I was sent to Paris with was blown through in two weeks. Yeah, that included me paying two months of rent, but I went about 500 euros over budget, and damn that threw me off for the rest of the time I spent there. So did a 60-euro call to my best friend in Ukraine. That was stupid.
I spent a lot of time staying home because, well, I couldn’t really afford going out to do anything special. Thankfully “special” in Paris doesn’t mean expensive. Just having wine next to the Eiffel Tower is pretty much better than anything I could do in Kyiv. So, there’s that.
In the days I spent at home I read Arch of Triumph, by Remarque. The book seemed to reflect how I was feeling about staying in Paris, and a quote from it still resonates with me, years after I stopped living there:
“Paris – the only city in the world where you can have a good time, in fact, doing nothing.”
I don’t feel like writing about Paris anymore. It makes me nostalgic. Part 3 coming “whenever”.