By Caroline Tosbath, ISA Student Services Advisor
I am Caroline Tosbath, a new addition to the Student Services Advisor team here at International Studies Abroad (ISA). I have spent my fair share of summers in the historic and beautiful city of Paris, France. I hope that my small anecdote will inspire you to travel, explore and create your own study abroad story!
Growing up, I spent several summers in Paris, France with my family. For my Parisian mother, this city is home and she wanted us to feel the same way from a very young age. I remember how wondrous it felt to walk the cobblestone streets, eat my first Nutella-filled crepe and explore the aisles and aisles of French comic books at the famous FNAC. I remember looking out the window of my family’s apartment in Montmartre with total enchantment year after year; the joyful French masses singing and dancing at the Abbesses metro stop on Bastille Day, long past midnight or the children going round and round the colorful merry go round on the square.
Fast forward to the fall semester of my Junior year and I am getting on a plane to study abroad in…Paris, France. Sure, it may not seem as adventurous to go abroad somewhere I’d been over and over, but I had no doubt that it would be a completely different experience. I was older this time and I knew everything in Paris would mean more – that I would see more. And you know what? I was right. It was as simple as my daily walk to Sciences Po University; crossing the Pont des Arts, passing that crazy-looking artist in his corner, walking through the Latin Quarter and seeing all the students in line at the local bakery…When I was younger there were no details in my recollections of Paris. Now, the city was vibrant and alive in a way that I had yet to experience in my whole life.
I will say that a perk of studying abroad in Paris was that I was well aware of quaint local spots, some even owned by family friends. It was at Enza Y Famiglia, a tiny bustling Italian joint off Rue Saint-Honoré run by my aunt’s best friend from college, where the pasta is made fresh every single morning that I felt I had officially become a local. It truly is a hidden gem; I walked past this place several times. In fact, it was part of my walk back home from school. (An important Paris lesson: Paris has many layers…you can walk on the same street every day and not realize that you are strolling past a restaurant owned by your aunt’s best friend from college who “summered” with your family back in the seventies and interestingly enough, has the same name as your mom!)
Back to that night where I truly felt like a local.
My parents came to visit me that November. When it came time for dinner I could think of no better place than Enza y Famiglia. I brought along my partner in crime at the time (now my roommate and best friend) and we all sat on the outside, covered patio, lightly toasting under the heat lamps, in typical Parisian fashion. Surrounding us were only Parisians, in their checkered scarves, sipping their goblet of wine and twirling their pasta carbonara in between heated debates. Veronique comes by to thank me for coming by again, reminisces with my mom and brings us a complimentary bottle of wine. Then the food starts coming (I did the ordering of course, I was a regular afterall!), creamy burrata with prosciutto, steak tartare, and fresh pappardelle pasta with black truffles. After a few rounds of dessert, we all decided to take a late night walk.
Since the restaurant was a quick ten minute walk from my homestay, it was a perfect opportunity to show my parents around my neighborhood. I lived in the 2eme arrondissement during my time in Paris, a neighborhood that was relatively unexplored during my childhood. It was great to take the lead with my parents, pointing out the fruit merchant I would go to every morning, the local pharmacy from that one week I got sick, the boulangerie from which I would get my morning coffee and chocolate croissant and more. My favorite part about living in Paris was establishing connections with different merchants and shop owners.
It was strange, but that in night Paris I had gone full circle. There I was showing MY mother that I had finally made Paris home, just like she had always hoped. That is the beauty of Paris. Within the big city, there are an infinite number of small cities with their local restaurants and shops. You don’t need to have a French mother to discover these places either. If you are somebody who is willing to make the effort to look a little closer and dig a little deeper, Paris can feel like yours and next thing you know, you’ll be the one in a checkered scarf, sipping a goblet of wine, twirling your pasta carbonara in between heated debates with fellow Parisians.
My study abroad trip to Paris was a life-changing experience and I want you to feel that same way. I am available to anyone who wants to add a unique touch to their time abroad in Paris, France! I can be contacted at email@example.com.