The other day my friend and I were reminiscing on our trip to paris that we took sophomore year. Although we went for dance this trip was so much more than that.
Originally when I signed up to go on the Paris trip I knew nothing about the Parisian lifestyle. I knew that I was going to be taught by former Paris Opera Ballet dancers, and the fact that I would be traveling to Paris was enough for me to go. However I did not expect for this trip to completely change my life.
Each day we had a new sight to see, a new place to go, a new route to explore. This kept our adventure even more exciting knowing how much we were going to see and do. Throughout our adventures, we experienced more than just museums and historic buildings, we saw a different world that was enriched with so much history but it stayed true to its culture. Seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, the Tiny Dancer at the d’Orsay museum and of course the Eiffel Tower in person was breathtaking. It was amazing to see these pieces of art work in real life rather than an image in a history book. Walking down each street of Paris you saw the history behind every little shop and café, each place had a story to tell. No matter where we went we saw something new and by the end of the week we went from being a tourist to as Parisian as we could, soaking up as much as possible in our week trip.
Prior to the trip I was a bit nervous about traveling, when I came to the realization this was normal I was less concerned. This was a big step in my life though. Going to school three hours away compared to four thousand miles away was very different, and what if something happens? Well something did happen; the Paris attack in two thousand and fifteen will go down in history. I can now say that I was a part of this horrific time, but I experienced life so much more now, possibly because of this, or possibly because of the week I lived. As terrible as it was that the attack occurred, I saw how it changed the Parisians. They were more attentive, and aware of their surroundings. However, compared to Americans they were always much more aware of their surroundings. After the shooting people did seem a bit sadder, constantly checking their phones to see what was going on, and looking prior to walking a certain direction. However the day of the rally, a simple gesture such as the metro rides being free so anyone could participate was an act of kindness that you would not ever experience in New York. We are supposed to be the land of the free, which we will always be, however I felt less compressed in Paris than in America.
Prior to the shooting, watching the Parisians, everyone was just a little happier than you would find walking down a street in New York City. People greeted each other, walked with their head held high, and looked around at their surroundings. They appreciated where they were, what they were doing and where they were going. They took the time to live in the moment instead of playing their life on repeat like most of us do. People get set into their routines and do not break from them. However a simple thing like going somewhere different for lunch can change your entire day.
The most rewarding part of the entire trip was seeing the beauty of the culture in every step we took. By looking at the buildings that surrounded us, we saw the history of Paris. You could see the artistry represented in every building and street. Art is a passion which is not frowned upon in Paris, like it is in the United States. People understand following a dream rather than working just for money. If you have passion behind your work it is not a job anymore. Throughout the museums we visited we saw multiple people who were just in there to sketch the sculptures. You would not typically find this in a museum in America, however in Paris it seemed to be very ordinary. Like New York, we saw multiple people playing instruments on the metros, but what was more intriguing was the piano playing outside of the Paris Opera House, who brought his piano on wheels just to play. The world is a stage, and Paris embraces it.
My week in Paris has been a trip like no other. Even though I have been very fortunate to have traveled to Europe multiple times in the past, I have never had such an enriching experience in my life. I knew from the moment I stepped foot in Paris that it would not be my last time there. I fell in love with the culture, Moulin Rouge especially inspired me because it showed the fact that I could make it in that kind of dance industry even in Europe. This is not because I am the best dancer but because I am not afraid to go out of my comfort zone and do something out of the box. I know now more than ever that I want to pursue cruise ship options after college to be able to still do what I love and to experience the world as much as possible. This trip was more than just an experience to me; it opened doors that I was concerned about opening and made me more confident to take on the world. In the end, the trip was priceless.
It is great to think about this trip and realize how much of an opportunity it was for me and my classmates.