Feeling homesick in Paris

Lone figure at the Seine“When you travel, you’re able to discover new things. At the same time, you’re leaving those closest to you.”
I’ve been asked if I’m missing home, and like many things it’s a multi-faceted answer. During the beginning of my time here in Paris, I found myself in a  “Don’t think, just do” survival mode. I was too busy trying to adjust to everything that is in the immediate present to dwell too much about home. There were “To Do’s” looming at me like:  survive the commute to work, fake-it-til-you-make-it as good intern, hunt for an apartment, buy a good baguettes (just kidding, maybe), and fit in with the Parisians. Except for brief calls from family and friends, home would be something that is thousands of miles away in Canada, or in the somewhat distant four-month future once I’m back.
And of course sometimes it’s easy to forget about home just for a little bit when you’re in the midst of excitement. I’ve made new friends here who are also interns, and we’re all relishing in all the amazing cultural sights that the city has to offer- Pantheon, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Musee D’Orsay, Musee de L’Orangerie, Musee Monet Marmottan, Palais de Tokyo, etc. etc
Yet as fun as my new friends and sights are, when I see something special, I can’t help want to share it with someone who has known me forever. I spy spring blossoms that my mom would adore, pass by a church my dad would appreciate, observe French people quirks that my boyfriend would find funny, and notice a view that would impress even my usually sullen younger brother who’s too cool for me. Instagram photos, Snapchat videos, Facebook messages and Skype dates just aren’t the same as them being there.

View from arc de triomphe

Then there’s those quiet moments when I’m feeling alone and people I want to call aren’t a call away, because of the time difference (I don’t think they’ll appreciate a 4am call). It’s a weird feeling, this homesickness. It probably explains the greater annoyance I have for things here like breathing in cigarette smoke as I walk on the street and seeing containers dumped into the garbage instead of being recycled.  I miss random things like clean air and recycling, and most of my family and friends (and Mimi, the cat my boyfriend and I adopted).  I think I realized as I was leaving the Toronto Pearson airport that when you travel, you’re able to discover new things. At the same time, you’re leaving those closest to you. It’s funny that I traveled to Paris, the “city of love” but really there’s no one that loves me here.

However, I realized I’m not completely without a sense of home or community here. I’ve been super lucky that for the first few weeks I was welcomed into a host family who’s a friend of my mom to help ease my transition as I search for an apartment. This past week I was surprised at how happy I was to meet up with my aunt and uncle from Canada for dinner, so much it turned to seeing them three nights in a row. I’m pretty sure my parents probably encouraged their insistence to make sure I ate as much as possible. And next week my boyfriend is coming over for a five day visit! Honestly couldn’t have asked for more perfect timing.
To the friends who ask me how I’m doing, thank you for thinking of me. If you’re swinging by Paris, give me a shout. This girl is currently in Paris for now, will be home to Kitchener-Waterloo soon enough in four months.
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