Since being a young girl, I have been entranced by the Eiffel Tower. Its vast expansion into the Paris skyline, the iconic symbol of a city that is teeming with all anyone could ever dream of: love, luxury, light, and life. I used to read books and watch movies that painted the city as an illustrious haven for those searching for opportunity, the center of it all being a sparkling tower of which all of the city’s occupants turn their eyes to for five minutes at the start of every hour once the sun has set.
I continued to romanticize Paris throughout my childhood, dreaming of working for a landmark fashion house, rich in history and integral to the wondrous city’s culture. I wanted to be inside of it all, a singular, moving part in the machine that is Paris, living and breathing amongst art, architecture, cafes, and design. If I could just get there, it would all fall into place.
When the opportunity to study abroad presented itself, I knew I had to go. To live, learn, and establish myself in the city I had always admired from afar was an experience I was not willing to let pass me by. After finalizing all of the details, signing up for my courses, packing my bags, and what seemed to be an endless list of other tasks to complete, I found myself in line to board the plane. I moved in what seemed to be a programmed way, unable to process how much it truly meant to me that I was entering not only the city of love, but the city I loved, without ever stepping foot in it.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would adore Paris, but I found that I grew a certain fondness for the city as my time progressed that I had never felt towards a place in my entire life. My love for Paris surpassed my adolescent infatuation. It grew into a familiar love, I learned its flaws, that it was not as romantic as I had once believed it to be. It was not the numerous museums, culture, food, and fashion that made me admire Paris the way I now do, but the people.
The people of Paris are the true heart of the city. Each person I encountered was eager to share the beauty of their home with me. I am thankful to have built relationships with others who ventured to Paris just as I did from all over the world, looking for the same intangible offerings that the city’s reputation claims it provides.
Now when I picture the Eiffel Tower, I don’t only think of its stoic presence rising above the rest of the city like a lighthouse, guiding outsiders to an idyllic landmark of beauty and romance. I instead imagine each Paris native, in all of their good, bad, ins and outs, as the rods of metal holding the tower together, keeping the iconic symbol of Paris alive.
Marli Giedt (BS Marketing) spent Spring 2022 studying abroad in Paris, France through KEI. Marli had the following to say about studying abroad, “Study abroad is one of the best, if not THE best, opportunity university students are given. Do not let the opportunity pass you by! The experiences you will have are once in a lifetime, and the people you meet help you build connections all over the world.”
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