Living all my life at my parent’s house in Lebanon, I never really experienced living abroad. At that time, I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone. The need to step into an unfamiliar ride and start a new phase in my life lead me to start off my journey in the City of Love as they say.
Everything in life happens for a reason. It’s safe to say that by moving to Paris I learned this in a clear and concrete way...
My parents of course were shocked by this spontaneous decision of me going to live in Paris and do my 2 year masters abroad, but ended up encouraging me in all ways possible. After applying to the program on the deadline and a Skype interview, my journey had begun.
I have been living in Paris for 2 years now, and I can most certainly tell you that it wasn’t all “La vie en rose”. When I first got there, it was a hustle. Metro problems, bipolar weather, sundays supermarkets day off, paperworks and administrative formalities…I wasn’t used to it. During rainy and stormy days, I had to walk to the supermarket and back home (after I almost slipped 7 times) with 5 bags and broken hands. In Lebanon I had my car and life seemed so much easier there. But I kept going, and soon became more independent.
I was shocked and impressed by the diversity the city embraces. Back home, I was never exposed to that kind of diversity and interacting with people from literally all nationalities.
I believe that engaging in conversation with people from different backgrounds feeds your soul. I was lucky to be enrolled in an international university and end up with friends from every corner of the world – Italians, Polish, Colombians, French, Tunisians, Germans, Senegalese. I learned so much by hanging out with them – whether it was for a simple group project for university or at a bar in the Grands Boulevards.
I became more open-minded; accepting the differences between us, willing to learn the source of these differences and sharing my point of view on coming from a Middle Eastern environment. I realised that learning from each other’s cultures, values, traditions and languages is so stimulating.
My new found independence and confidence was truly put to the test when I discovered how easy and practical it is to go from one city / country to another. I’ve visited 13 cities in the last 2 years. I enjoy every step of the journey, from the bookings to researching the city trademarks and food specialties to the actual trip itself. One of the best feelings? Landing in a new city knowing you have few days to get to know it.
“Andrea! You’ve changed!” Oh how many times I heard that while on vacation back home in Lebanon. When I ask how I changed, it all came down to independence. Living abroad and being exposed to unfamiliar cultures changes you. You grow, and you glow.
Travelling enriches your mind and soul. Even 5 days out of your comfort zone can affect your personality in some way, and add so many memories to your life! Paris has taught me to be open-minded, and learn how others live. Embrace any form of worldwide beauty and appreciate the differences.
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