Missing Thanksgiving in the United States was a major con attached to my decision to study abroad in the fall semester as opposed to in the spring. I didn’t realize that Temple would give us off on Thursday and that many of the students would use the four day weekend to travel. My friends and I took advantage of the extra day off by going to Paris.
Paris is undeniably a beautiful city. We arrived on Thursday afternoon and the first thing we did was go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Miles and miles of beautiful lights and buildings stretched out in front of us and that experience set the stage for the next two days. That night, we had a Thanksgiving feast of onion soup, baguettes, and crème brulee at a restaurant not far from a sparkling Eiffel Tower.
I honestly feel like I have seen Paris in two and a half days. We were able to visit all of the major sites in a small window of time, including the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Parisian Pantheon, the Moulin Rouge, the Musée d’Orsay, Versailles, Picasso’s paint shop, and the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Versailles was the highlight of my weekend. The palace was so opulent and ornate and so unlike anywhere I have ever been. I would love to go back in the summer one day to see the gardens in full bloom. Versailles is only a half hour train ride from Paris and I would recommend making the trip to anyone who is in the vicinity. It was truly gorgeous. Strolling down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées was also a very cool experience because Paris’ main street was completely decorated for Christmas. There were lights, food, and shopping and being around so much holiday cheer right after Thanksgiving got me in the Christmas spirit the same way turkey and Black Friday do in the United States.
In the past couple of months, I’ve been to Prague, Brussels, London, and Paris (in addition to a handful of Italian cities) and can sincerely say that there really is no place like Rome. I have loved coming back to Rome after every weekend adventure in stunning cities and am so happy that this is the city I chose to live and study in this semester. I am completely enamored with Italian culture, the people, the food, the beautiful places and don’t regret a minute of the time I’ve spent in the Eternal City. I’m charmed by the things that may annoy other people: the Italian aversion to working in the afternoons or evenings, the impossibly crowded metros, daily meals of pasta and pizza, and technology that is ten years behind the rest of the westernized world. Being in Rome has felt like being in a movie or a dream to me. Studying abroad is what you make it and if you allow yourself to be immersed in these cultural idiosyncrasies, then they become a positive thing rather than a source of stress. Adaptability, an open mind, and a willingness to go with the flow really are necessary to making the best out of a study abroad experience and traveling Europe (even in a “logical” city like Paris).
In one weekend, I saw the Mona Lisa, was at the top of the Eiffel Tower, walked the same floors as Marie Antoinette, adored Monet’s paintings, and was able to see what the world’s love affair with Paris was all about. Going to Paris with friends was the perfect way to spend Thanksgiving in Europe, but I am very much looking forward to making the most of these final two weeks in Rome.