Around a month ago I swapped my crisp and chilly surroundings, Essex for an even crispier but more exciting venue, Paris. After two hours of avoiding falling asleep on the suited French male next to me, I was in Gare du Nord waiting to meet two of my favourite people ever, Joanna and Bethany. Liverpool University handed me a lot of adventures and beautiful friends (in exchange for an amount of fees we will not discuss as my bank balance will sob), and it was time to relive our Liverpool days, only this time with a wintry Parisian backdrop.
Despite being mistaken as Dutch, Spanish, Parisian, it remained fundamentally clear that I could not and still cannot speak French. Surprisingly, the streets did not smell of Chanel No 5, but it was everything I imagined it would be. I haven’t visited the capital since I last went aged 8, and at that point my interests lay solely with Disneyland Paris, not the Eiffel Tower or Champs-Élysées. Swerving Mickey and Minnie this time, and full of delicious pumpkin soup, Bethany and I made our way around Paris while our wonderful host was working (being a mature adult and shiz) nearby.
Bethany and I became friends while completing a Reading for Pleasure project in our second year of University. This tongue-tying role required us to read poetry to those suffering from Dementia in various degrees, in a care home. It was a challenging but incredibly enriching experience, one that we both recall fond and funny memories to this day. Fast forward two years, two degrees, a year in Spain (for Bethany…I am inept at languages), and we were strolling past stuffed rats in shop windows (yes they look as disgusting as you’d imagine), consuming Pain au Chocolat on the Metro, browsing Monet and Van Gogh beauties (they look insanely beautiful in the flesh) and fearing the fierce metro doors…as our new white suited friend can vouch for.
Going out in London is always eventful, but this would not gear me up for our first night out in Paris. Cue ‘can I have your number’ times 13243536, enough rain to fill Niagra Falls, and gaggle of new friends, where else would we go apart from a bar eloquently entitled ‘Dirty Dicks.’ Dirty Dicks is as delightful as it sounds, where speakers in the toilets play seagull coos to keep you company, before walking down a dark corridor with only Pufferfish lights to guide your way, yes, real (deceased) pufferfish lights. No, we had not had too many cocktails, DD is just different…and I loved it.
It always seems to amaze me just how much you can pack into a relatively short amount of time somewhere. Give me four days in England and I will probably go out once, watch about 5 films, drink a lot of wine, read ten poems, see good friends, and sleep for 30 hours. Give me four days in Paris and I’ll see the Moulin Rouge, visit the Louvre, walk majestically around museums about architecture (Bethany, you are SO majestic) eat all of Joanna’s culinary delights, and make friends with two lovely Americans. Filled with nutella crepes, it was time for our Eiffel Tower photoshoot, and after some members of the public’s photography skills leaving a lot to be desired, we gave up and took our own.
The thing (well one of) that I love about J&B is their ability to stay positive, fun, and exciting all the time. Clambering over tables at a fondue restaurant, drinking wine out of baby bottles, and getting a bit too inebriated in the centre of Paris was exactly what I wanted out of my time in Paris. To spend time with two amazing girls, in a beautiful city, and I even hit it off with a French guy who was totally lovely and charming, so hey, it was a good weekend! Aside from having B’s phone stolen (resulting in us talking to an Algerian journalist in the Police station), it was a cracking weekend, and I even got ‘the nod’ from an elderly man whose leg I helped untrap in the metro doors. That sealed the weekend, for sure.
Pre-Paris Clare was a shell, embittered by unsuccessful internship applications, countless ‘you were so close but the other candidate can breathe fire’ and other equally unhelpful feedback. Pre-Paris Clare was aware how tough it is to find full time work in London at the moment, but post-Paris Clare was far more energetic and revitalised to keep trying.
Paris filled me with a confidence that I would never have expected to gain from a few days abroad. It provided me with the opportunity to see J&B again, meet new friends (if any of you are reading this, you know I think you’re all wonderful, and I cannot wait to come back and hit up Dirty D’s again), and to take some photos of things that aren’t my dog, food, or my face.
However….Paris spurred me on to pursue my dream of finding work abroad. I am thrilled to say that I’ve been successfully accepted onto the Leonardo Da Vinci programme, a scheme that offers EU funded placements for a limited number of residents abroad. I am currently waiting to hear back if my application to a company I have applied to work at for three months in Italy is successful, and if it isn’t then I’ve been assured that they will find work for me in Spain, Germany, or France, so it will be Bonjour, Hallo, or Hola in January 2014.
Keep your eyes peeled, I will let you know of my travel plans as soon as I know more!
Phoebe, Bethany, Myself, and Joanna