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Pay Attention to Your Surroundings: Paris Study Abroad

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When I first heard the sustained Noise, I was working on a paper near the open door leading to the mostly aesthetic, six-inch balcony of my empty Parisian apartment. 

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 The dining table where I sat

To understand why I did not pause to investigate, you must consider the setting. The window in the kitchen welcomed the shuffling of my courtyard neighbors, and the washing machine cycled through a short setting so that my roommates and I could spread our wrinkled clothes to air-dry soon after. The shouts of street vendors on market days and the whooshing of cars, scooters, and pedestrians floated to my fifth-floor window. The continued Noise blended well with the music around me and the one I blasted through my headphones; I continued to type my essay. 
During weekends when I could relax or grocery shop, I better appreciated my local environment. About two streets away, the red Monoprix quickly became my go-to store for toilet paper, easy pasta, affordable meat, and new French foods. I didn’t have to go far for fresh fruits either. Two or three times a week, Marché Porte Dorée offered me fruits, cheeses, meats, flowers, souvenirs, and clothes on nearby sidewalks. Although I didn’t enjoy cherries before purchasing them here, I savored them along with many yellow kiwis.

My neighborhood district did not just benefit my stomach; I got my steps in, too! One Saturday, my friend and I searched for this well-known scenic place of flowers, Promenade Plantée, and walked into much more.

 Picture taken along the way

After heading in the wrong direction, we finally found the cute space, took too many very cute pictures, and filled our bottles with sparkling water at a public fountain. 

 Found it!

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 Free sparkling water!

On my last night in Paris, I reminisced about my five weeks along the path around a small lake within the Bois de Vincennes, a large park of grass and trees. I belonged to the movement of this life; I had not just visited, studied, and interned in Paris; I lived there. 

 Me and my last night in Paris

In my apartment on the day I heard the Noise, I finally took a break from typing and removed my headphones. In an instant, I was at the window door and saw 10 of them. As I later found out, I had just missed about 100 horses galloping on the main road in front of our building. How embarrassing to share with my peers! I guess it really is important to pay attention to your surroundings, especially in Paris. 

 On Bastille Day, July 14th at 6 a.m. (taken later, when the horses came again)

Abigail Suleman is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Paris, France, during Summer 2019. She is currently a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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