In my first couple of weeks in Paris, I had a range of experiences; good and bad, and I could not make up my mind about how I felt towards the city. It took me a few days to get my rusty French language skills going again, which has helped make my stay a lot more pleasant. Speaking French, or at least trying to speak French at local stores and supermarkets really makes a difference when it comes to French customer service. After a couple of weeks here, I feel like I am just starting to feel the charm of this city. Paris is all sorts of beautiful; wandering through its alleyways is one of my favorite pastimes and the long summer days make it all the more enjoyable.
Each of the 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods or districts) of Paris has its own flavor and scent. The weather has been so pleasant that every day is a party on the streets. Any patch of green is a good spot for a spontaneous picnic and do not be surprised if you get your own life performance by street musicians and performers coming from all over the world. To make this experience even more picture perfect almost any picnic spot you choose in this city is bound to have a magnificent view of some of the best known landmarks in the world, from the Eiffel Tower to the Sacre-Coeur, and the Seine. Picnics are also great because you can find tasty pastries or a perfectly baked baguette at a typical boulangerie (bakery) at almost every corner, and any neighborhood supermarket offers a wide variety of cheese at very affordable prices. To be honest, I did not realize how much I missed good bread until I came here.
This city has been a joy to explore as a tourist, however transitioning from tourist mode and navigating the nitty-gritty of settling in has not been so smooth. French bureaucracy can be lengthy and cumbersome. Finding an apartment, and all the paperwork that comes with renting an apartment, choosing a mobile network provider, and installing Wifi, at home have never been such difficult tasks. For anyone out there trying to move in to this city, I recommend you do a lot of research on the different areas of Paris and the many frauds that you could encounter. This way you will be able to conduct a targeted apartment search when you arrive and will not waste time with any trickster.
As a final commentary, I would like to note that like at any other place, what truly matters is the people. No matter how beautiful a place may be, or how severe the difficulties of its bureaucratic system, the people around you is what truly matters. So far, my co-workers are wonderful people to work with, super helpful and caring. Moreover, in my short time here, the other interns have already been amazing friends, travel companions, and tour guides, and sources of knowledge.
I am here for a 6-month appointment, so my boss is gracefully easing me into the heavy work. I look forward to sharing more details about my work and adventures in Paris as my role solidifies in the upcoming weeks.