It’s actually kind of been a whirlwind since I booked my flight (very last minute, mind you). When the opportunity presented itself to travel to France, I just couldn’t say no. I never do anything spontaneous — I’m the girl that plans to be spontaneous — but something in me just told me I had to come and experience life.
First stop: Paris.
What a city, what a culture, what a life these Parisians live. I always dreamed about what Paris would be like: people sitting in cafes drinking coffee and smoking, everyone in love, everything looking so majestic…and it was all of that and more. Like I actually wish I was kidding.
Being in France has been a struggle because I don’t speak the language. Many people know some English here and that’s wonderful but I still felt helpless. I couldn’t ask for directions, I couldn’t have real conversations, and I really could not understand much. Mona played my translator which was even more frustrating because I had to rely on someone to do things for me and I’ve never been that person. Guess there’s a time for everything.
But how ignorant am I that I felt as though everyone in this world should speak English? Or that they should at least know enough to have a simple conversation? Or how ignorant am I that I feel like English is the universal language? It’s all been kind of eye opening for me. I’ve always known there is more to life than the life we live in America and I’ve always tried to make myself aware of that, but when you’re thrown into a culture and you don’t speak the language, it’s frustrating beyond belief. You feel helpless, vulnerable and stupid. Or at least I did.
There are some things that, like Jason Derulo says in his song, “don’t need explaining.” That is where you find the beauty. Well, my booty might not need explainin’ but neither does culture. And that itself is the biggest lesson you can learn when you travel the world and don’t speak the language.
It sounds so cheesy, but you can really feel the love in this city. When people walk by you holding hands, the love and passion they have for each other seeps out of their pores and into you. I wish I was kidding. The French love love. They love hard. They love passionately. They love deeply. And even though I kept saying I wanted to barf, I really was just in awe of the way people can love here. Like really, truly love. Old people holding hands as they walked the streets, couples randomly kissing, the way lovers would say goodbye or hello to each other at the train station…it was all straight up out of a movie.
And everyone is so nice! Everywhere you go people say hello, good morning/evening, ask if you need help or know where you’re going…who said the French are mean? We didn’t have one bad experience. Okay, maybe one. But he was a grumpy old waiter so that doesn’t count.
People are so content with the life they live. They are happy, they are fulfilled, and they are relaxed. They let themselves just be and enjoy the little moments. Because after all, isn’t that what life should be about anyway? Being happy grabbing an ice cream and just walking around a park laughing should be enough. Why do we feel like we owe ourselves more?
You don’t need to speak the language to absorb the culture. You don’t need to speak the language to enjoy the great food paired with a perfect glass of wine. And you don’t need to speak the language to feel the same kind of happiness the person next to you does. The things we feel, the things we see and discover, and the things we experience don’t have a language. They don’t need one. It’s all universal. And that is so magical to me.