Paris: first impressions

Thursday morning at 10:00am, our group of 15 arrived at Charles de Gaule airport tired and pale faced, our only source of energy being the adrenaline of complete enrapture in a new city.

The first day we stepped foot on European soil we explored the Latin quarter and simply tried to soak up the Parisian atmosphere. The city smells of motorcycle exhaust, fresh croissants, and it bubbles with french conversation. I was immediately reminded of how much I love the french atmosphere themes of food, cafes, and bustling street culture. Even the a-typical siren sounds of aiding vehicles added to the fresh experience. Compared to Boston where one must seek out the hidden jewels, I delighted in the fact that any seemingly ordinary cafe was surprisingly tasty. In the first  cafe that we happened upon, I ordered a croque monsieur. It was delicious; I cannot wait for the food to come in the next couple of weeks!

I have been to Paris before with my family, however after 2 days, I feel this is already a novel experience. Something that has been the most surprising to me in the last couple of days has actually been the French language. I have been taking french for four years now, and find the language just as whimsical today as four years ago. Yet, even though I know my French has been improving, I have been quite surprised by how much French I have been able to understand. I have never been that kid who speaks five languages, or can understand multiple tongues; simply English. My dad speaks Korean and my mother speaks French and Portuguese, so I can understand multiple words in those languages, but language has always greatly intrigued me. If you speak more than one language, which language would you think in? If you becomes fluent in a language, do the words stop sounding simply like translations? Do they begin to hold real meaning in an entirely new language, or is it perpetually linked to your original language? Although I did not immediately begin to think in French, I felt that I could comprehend what people were saying around me. Even on menus, or in cathedrals, I found myself able to understand sentences, instead of just key words here and there. It has been a delightful surprise to be able to piece together certain sentences in such an extraordinary city!


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