This weekend I spent 48 hours in Paris, and probably did 48 miles of walking. In all honesty, Paris was not on my list of places to see. It sounded overrated, crowded, and expensive. If I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, why not just look up a picture of it?
Then I realized why not: because it’s transformative. I’m not a person who likes to be too cliche, but Paris changed my outlook on life. Pre-Paris, I was homesick, lonely, and counting down the days to seeing my old friends and family. Post-Paris, I feel vibrant. Alive. I wake up with renewed strength and look around at all the beautiful things in life, like the fact that there’s an Anglo-American bookstore to shop at (I bought 4 books, it’s an addiction). Or the fact that I could spend the morning at this coffee shop (outside of it is this adorable carousel, I feel a story emerging from this place).
Paris made me realize that Florence is home. When we flew into Pisa on Sunday, I realized I was back in my country. Most importantly, I realized that I wanted to be back. Through a dinner cruise we almost missed, macaroons from the place that invented them, and getting lost in the Louvre, I truly believe I grew as a person. Traveling opened my soul to accepting these new experiences. Beyond acceptance, it opened me to embracing these opportunities.
Paris inspired me, but my favorite thing about it was the appreciation it gave me for Italy. Florence’s streets are impossibly narrow, its laid-back lifestyle is different from what I know, and I can’t speak the language, but the people here are beginning to feel like my people. I know I only have a few months here, and I will not waste another minute.