How Paris Changed My Life
If you know me, you know the deep love I have for Paris. Ever since I was a little girl I heard the whispers (mostly from my grandma) of what a magical place Paris was, and it quickly became my dream to go there. The first time I went I was 17, and it was love at first sight. It was more than just the observable beauty of the city. There was something about the way of life and the energy that I connected with on a deeper level. As soon as I came home, and way before I even started applying for colleges, I knew I wanted to study abroad there. I had to.
Fast forward to my junior year of college and on the verge of 21, I was off to Paris. Even though this was something I had been working towards for years, I was terrified. I was going to one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world without knowing anyone and little of the language. I’m very introverted, so this was way beyond my comfort zone. But going to Paris on my own ended up being the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
I always think about the lessons I learned while living there. It gave me insight into the type of life I want to live as well as deeper truths about myself I wouldn’t have learned by staying where I was comfortable. Grab a class of rosé and un pain au chocolat as I go through my journey of living in my favorite city in the world.
Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so naturally it would have some effect on my sense of style. The biggest lesson I learned was that less is more. From what I observed in cafes, the metro, museums, and everywhere in between, the secret to French style is in its apparent simplicity. I say “apparent” because it’s the details that elevate the look. One of my biggest problems when finding my sense of style was I was always trying so hard. I saw what other people were wearing and thought I should wear it too, even if it wasn’t me. I don’t feel that pressure anymore, and now bring a little more simplicity to my style, which I feel suits me better.
The philosophy behind French beauty is minimalism. They are all about subtlety accentuating their best natural features. Trends such heavy Kim Kardashian-esque contouring aren’t what’s popular there. The focus is on skincare because they recognize that it’s the base for makeup to go on top. French skincare has such a prestigious reputation that it was hard to not be enamored by it. I would always love stopping into the local pharmacie after class just to browse the treasures I didn’t have back at home. I became obsessed with skincare (and for months after I moved home) because my skin had turned into a nightmare due to the city’s pollution. My skin had a lot of texture and redness from my rosacea that I’d never experienced before. In a (very weird) way it was a blessing in disguise because I had a great excuse to play with skincare!
P.S. Lucky for us, CVS now carries a lot of French skincare that I found I loved but be warned- it is pricey.
Re-sparked my appreciation for the arts
A little-known fact about me is I absolutely love history. There’s something enamoring about recreating what’s happened in the past. It’s visiting a totally different world. There is a story behind every nook and cranny in Paris, which is something that’s true for anywhere. But European history is my favorite so I was extra intrigued. Paris, and travelling in general, gave me boundless exposure to revisit my love for art, literature, architecture, and history.
Enjoy life slowly (including desserts)
Life in any city is hectic to some degree. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of it all. Cliché I know, but there’s something to be said about enjoying all the moments life has to offer. It was easy to do this in Paris- there is something beautiful around (almost) every corner. The seemingly most mundane moments, like running an errand at the grocery store, can be enjoyable if you have the right attitude.
Americans in general also tend to live a fast-paced life. I feel we as Americans (generally speaking) live to work and don’t work to live. Work is such a national value that everything else falls to the wayside. I like the European way of thinking; you leave work at the office and fully commit to enjoying the moments outside of it. I think we can all learn from this mindset, and we would be better for it.
How to rely on myself
Nothing teaches you how to be independent quite like moving to one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world. I always thought I was independent but living in Paris only further developed that quality in me. There were many times I did things by myself, and I had to learn how to get around and problem-solve. This is probably one of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned. I feel confident knowing that I can do things for myself. This isn’t something I learned living in a small-town in Connecticut, and the language barrier definitely didn’t help. But I did it and I’m a stronger, more independent person for it.
Do things for me
There is nothing wrong with being selfish and doing things for yourself. There’s a difference, though, letting that selfishness define you and seep into other parts of your life. But for some, it may be hard to do what they want because they’re thinking about the happiness of other people. Take the time to do what makes you happy. In Paris, I didn’t feel pressure to have to make anyone else happy but myself. Whether that be a trip to the Ancient Greek section of the Louvre, or reading all afternoon in the Jardin du Luxembourg, or treating myself to that extra glass of wine. Speaking of wine…
There is never a bad time for wine
I think this one speaks for itself…wine is always welcome! Wine is a tradition as old as France itself, so you can imagine they take it very seriously. So seriously that there are laws protecting how each different type of wine is made to protect the industry’s authenticity. It’s only makes sense that we the consumers show the appreciation it deserves!
We all have a Paris. A place that challenges us and causes us to grow, where we uncover things about ourselves that collected dust or didn’t even know existed, a place that feels like home. This was easily the best time of my life, and I think about it every day. I live for the day I get to go back!
Leave a comment down below of what your Paris is and why!