Not All Who Wander Are Lost (but sometimes you actually are lost) | Study Abroad Week 1 | Paris, France

Bonjour from Paris!! Wow… I still can’t even believe that I’m living in Paris! It’s so surreal to be here and I’m not sure when, or if, it will ever settle in! First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who wished me safe travels and have supported me in my quest to study abroad. It was not an easy task arranging everything for this trip, but it has already been SO worth all of the stress and uncertainty. I’m really living a dream here and I am so excited to share my experiences and photos with everyone back home!

This first week has been a whirlwind of emotions – happy, nervous, excited, confused…I’ve experienced it all! I’ve been living in a hostel all week while I wait for my apartment to be ready and for my classes to begin, so it’s been a little hard to settle in. Nonetheless, I am in PARIS and am living life to the fullest! I spent the week being a true tourist; it was SO incredible to see the monuments that I have only dreamt about visiting in person! Not only is there so much to do in Paris, but the architecture is stunning and every narrow alley and hidden square offers something new to discover, so wandering around has become one of my favorite past times! 

A highlight of the week has definitely been experiencing the French culture as well as meeting people from all around the world. I've made friends from Ireland, Turkey, Argentina, Mexico, Norway, Finland, Italy, and Canada, and lots of French locals as well! I know my time here is going to pass by quickly, so I’m trying to be very present and soak up every second. I am just so thankful for this opportunity and cannot wait for all of the adventures to come!            

STORY TIME! I know it’s cheesy but I am in love with the Eiffel Tower! I love how it towers over the city skyline, twinkles at night, and symbolizes the city of lights. The day I arrived in Paris, I headed out to see the Eiffel Tower for the very first time up close (I got a glimpse of it that morning on the plane and definitely cried a bit). As I approached the tower, I pulled out my phone to snap a few pictures, when all of a sudden, my battery died at 50%?! I had no charger, no map, and no idea how to get back to my hostel. So there I was, stranded at the Eiffel Tower by myself on my first day in Paris. It was getting dark and cold outside and I was a little nervous about getting home. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I did know that I was at the EIFFEL TOWER, so I just continued to enjoy it! After a few minutes of taking it all in, I heard some familiar voices. I turned around and there were three American girls I had met just a few hours earlier in my dorm room at my hostel!!! I couldn’t believe it. At this point, I knew exactly 5 people in Paris, and three of them were RIGHT THERE. I ran over to them, explained what happened, and they were able to give me directions. God was absolutely watching out for me and I could not be more grateful for those girls! Here’s a couple of pictures that I snapped on my camera that night.

While in Paris, a must-see for me was the Sacré-Cœur basilica, which sits upon the highest point in Paris. Not only is the church beautiful (inside and out!) but it offers a great viewpoint for seeing the city! The stairs leading up to the basilica is a perfect spot to enjoy a Nutella and banana crepe (the cheap ones off the street are the best!)The first picture is actually from my hostel's rooftop; the view was incredible!

 One of my FAVORITE parts of the week was being reunited with my French bestie, Marie! I met Marie during high school; we were French class pen pals during my junior year, and we finally met during my senior year when she came to West Lafayette with a bunch of her classmates! Throughout the past three years, we’ve kept in touch, and I was astounded when she said that she was going to be living and working in Paris at the same time I was arriving! It was truly fate. For our reunion, we spent the afternoon exploring the winding cobblestone roads of the Montmarte area. Marie is also a photographer, so we both gasped when we saw the gorgeous light peeking through the buildings before sundown. Of course we had to stop for a few pictures!

While strolling through Paris, Marie and I stopped by the Louvre museum so that I could see it for the first time! I went inside the Louvre later in the week and saw a ton of incredible art, including the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace (see iPhone photos at the end!)

One afternoon, I explored the 4th arrondissment (or district) which holds the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle, and the Shakespeare & Company bookstore! As I walked up to the Notre Dame, the top of the hour hit and the bells in the towers started ringing! I couldn't help but think Quasimodo was up there ;) It was just incredible to be standing within walls that were built in the 12th century!

Sainte-Chappelle has been on my must-see list foreverrrr! It’s a royal chapel in the Gothic style and holds the most beautiful stained-glass windows I’ve ever seen. It was so neat to be standing exactly where King Louis the IX sat during services.

One afternoon I didn't have much planned, so I decided to stop by the Jardin du Luxembourg. The gardens were beautiful but I can’t wait to visit again in the springtime! Afterwards, I visited the Galeries Lafayette, which is a gorgeous, high-end shopping mall. It was way to beautiful (and expensive) to be a normal shopping mall.

 Okay, so earlier in the week I went Ladurée to sample their macarons. While the macarons were very good and the whole brand design was just adorable, Pierre Hermé has to take the cake for the BEST macarons (so far at least!) I bought a passion fruit macaron with a chocolate ganache filling, which sounds a bit strange, but it was actually the best macaron I’ve ever had. Wow, I wish I had another one right now!

Thoughts of the Week:

What I’m loving right now: Macarons!!! They are my favorite treat ever and the fact that you can find them anywhere in Paris is just the best. I'm hoping that all of the walking I’m doing is counteracting the macaron addiction a bit ;)

What I’m not loving right now: The metro… it’s so convenient, but eww so dark and dingy.

What I’m surprised about: how friendly people are (especially when you try to speak French!), how expensive everything is, and how well French people speak English!

Favorite moment: seeing La Tour Eiffel for the first time <3

Favorite travel item: Andy Steves' Europe: City-Hopping on a Budget. This is absolutely my favorite travel guidebook and is a MUST-HAVE for any young person wanting to travel around Europe. I’ve already tried some of his restaurant, hostel, and attraction recommendations in Paris, and I can’t wait to try out his top picks in other cities soon!  

Here's some crappy iPhone pictures that captured some great memories when I didn't have my camera!

Woo that was a super long post, but I just did SO much this week and a lot of people have been asking me how I've been doing, so I wanted to give a thorough update! I will be doing a weekly post on my travels, so be sure to follow me on Instagram & Facebook to see new blogs as they're posted! 

-- xo Cassie