Travel Log 4 “Studying Abroad…It’s More than Just a Walk in the Park”, by Kait Shortell Paris, France

My favorite walk to take in Paris is towards Notre Dame from my flat. When I leave my flat I have to cross over a bridge that stretches over the bluish-green Seine, which never fails to have one of the long tourist boats floating down it ever so slowly. The tour guides shout facts about Paris to their passengers, who are so lost in the immense scenery around them; they miss every word of it. Every inch of architecture in Paris is so delicately detailed. The area I live in is one of the oldest in the city. I learned from a local at a café, whom I had a nice conversation with, that in the third century B.C. it was the Celtics and Irish who inhabited Paris first on City Island, which is the buildings that I pass when I walk across the bridge (the bridge is called Pont Sully). I decided to post about this walk because I have noticed how many different aspects of Paris and city life it covers in just a short distance. Once on the other side of the bridge, I am close to the center of Paris, and busy doesn’t even come close to describing the hustle and bustle happening around me. There are people weaving in and out of traffic on small motorbikes, and others absolutely flying and cutting off buses that are more then twenty times their size. There are some people waving buses and taxis down frantically while others are running down the steps into the metro, and even more then that are sitting outside cafés enjoying a drink with good company. I often find myself one of the people running down the metro steps on my way to class in the morning. One thing that I have noticed about the European lifestyle, is how much they spend time living in the moment, and just simply appreciating the time they spend with one another. I admire this aspect about their culture and hope that I can take it back home with me and reincorporate it somehow into my life. I think it is such a valuable lesson to learn while I am here. As I walk along the Seine it gets a little quieter again, and the atmosphere is a lot softer. There are stairs that lead down to cobblestone pathways that walk right along the Seine and I often find myself sitting on those steps when I feel like I need a break from the city life. It allows me to reflect and breathe on all that is happening around me, and within me. Sometimes there is a local about my age who stands at the bottom of the steps and plays tunes on his acoustic guitar. I like watching and listening to him, because although a lot of people do things like that on the side of the street for money from passer-byes, he doesn’t put out a cup in hopes of spare change, nor is he playing in a busy area where tons of people walk by. It is just because he enjoys playing the music. You can tell by the way he closes his eyes and bobs his head while tapping his feet to his own strumming. If you go back up the steps and continue following the Seine along the road, you eventually hit all the green stalls that sit on the side of the walls called “Booksellers”. They sell very old books and other reading material, along with paintings and drawings of anything you can imagine. I love walking by all of them. At the end of the booksellers you are standing at the entrance to Notre Dame and across the street from the infamous Shakespeare and Company. This is tourist central. If you stop for just a minute and listen, you will hear about five plus different languages. It is insane. People are just pouring across the street and into the massive cathedral. I have never seen anything like it. The Gothic cathedral is worth every second of the wait. It’s interesting to be in this area because sometimes I get annoyed at the amount of tourists, but at the same time I am myself a tourist at least a few times a week seeing different sights in Paris. But sitting on those steps is the most interesting, behind me people are running from one place to the next, in front of me I watch tourists cruise by on boats, and just below me is a Parisian taking advantage of the lifestyle this city is known for. Yet I can sit there and find a calmness, and peace in it all, feeling part of all three. In the reading Slimbach wrote, “…we are no longer in the in the air but not quite on the ground…” (179). He is referring in jet lag, but I also think this could describe the liminality phase that we are all experiencing. I know that upon initially experiencing liminality, my head was spinning. But, after some time I have some how grounded myself, while free-falling at the same time, if you will.

I chose to add a picture of the view I have on the steps that I so often find myself on, reflecting and taking a moment to be here, in the moment, in Paris.

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