I've spent the semester doing social media for my abroad program, APA Paris, which includes weekly blogging... and a brief explanation as to why it's been relatively quiet over here on my personal blog. Here's a piece I wrote a few weeks ago, and I'll be migrating content back over here as the upcoming weeks bring more free time and a stronger Wifi connection.
Originally published on Academic Program Abroad's Wordpress site March 2017:
A small fact: my family and friends were more excited that I was studying abroad in Paris than I was.
Oftentimes, a semester abroad gives the people who love you a perfect excuse to come visit (though really, do you ever need an excuse to visit Paris?)
Though having visitors can be fun – my dad and step mom, my mom, my aunt, and a good friend from high school visited me during the month of March – it is primarily overwhelming. I struggled with showing my family my Paris and not the Paris that they expected to see. How could I make them fall in love with the city in the same way the I had?
Luckily I realized that while sights like the Eiffel Tower, l'Arche de Triumph, the Louvre, the Champs-Elysées are fun and definitely worthwhile for a first-time visit to the city, the people who come to visit me want to see my Paris. My Paris self has only been up-close to the Eiffel Tower twice in the past two and a half months, heavily frequents neighbourhoods like the Marais, the Latin Quarter, and Ile-de-la-Cité, and blows through bread baskets at cafés like it's my primary occupation.
Stick with your Paris, and you can't go wrong. If you're still stressed about where to bring your peeps, start here:
- Your favorite neighbourhood café for an espresso, and the conversation that ensues about why the coffee is so small. Dutifully explain that the coffee isn't that good in France – it isn't – but do your best to show off the magic of café culture regardless. (Omit the part about the casual social chain-smoking that happens at these types of institutions. You absolutely have not touched a cigarette ever. They are death sticks.)
- The restaurant(s) you’ve been circling for the past two months but haven’t had the time or money to try yet. Show off your French when you order, and insist that you have a French menu! (It sounds impressive. Look up the fancy food words using WordReference app under the table.)
- If your host parents are game, bring your real family over for dinner! Have them bring flowers so you a) can finally visit that neighbourhood florist you love to pass by on the way to the metro and b) don't have to worry about making a wine decision. (A word to the wise: it's generally rude to bring over wine for a dinner party in France. It assumed that the host hasn't put the proper thought in.)
- Bring them to that one bakery you always go to. Treat them to a smorgasbord of butter and bread. Almond croissants are always a crowd-pleaser... while chausson aux pommes are delicious, they're a glorified apple hand-pie that you can easily find in the states.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, bring your parents to your favorite happy hour! Bonus points for free olives/popcorn.
- Even better, if they manage to hang-on until the jetlag takes over, take them to your favorite late-night food place. Show mom and dad the magic of French kebab. Omit the stories where you shatter your phone and wake up covered in tzatziki sauce.
- Show them your favorite piece of art in the city. If you don’t have one yet, go to a museum together and decide which art you really don’t like. Oftentimes a little easier.
- Take them to your all-time favorite neighbourhood. Wander aimlessly through the streets. Share tame anecdotes. Laugh a lot. Drink lots of wine together, and always order a pot or a carafe instead of a glass. (Share the bold stories then.)