In the middle of exams and finals, it suddenly struck me. Very soon, I am leaving this huge, friendly, busy, weird and beautiful city behind. And it got me thinking…
The day we moved in to our Parisian apartment, my roommate and I were meeting our landlord for the first time. By that time, we had already stayed in Paris for a few days, starting to get used to the French way of saying hello. As cold hearted Northerners, we are used to a simple handshake, preferably at arm`s length.. Basically, we don`t kiss strangers on the face, especially not twice. It didn`t take long before I got used to it, though, so I was well prepared when the landlord knocked on the door. I smiled to him and leaned forward to say hi the proper, French way: One kiss on the left cheek, one kiss on the right cheek, then pulling back, satisfied with my politeness. That was before I noticed he was still leaning forward. A third kiss was on its way! I quickly threw my head towards his again, aiming for the right side of his face, which in my confused mind would be the next one up. It was not, so in a small second, I managed to picture another stressful round of looking for a place to stay. Luckily, I didn`t hit his mouth after all, and the result was nothing more than two astonished faces, and of course, a Norwegian red one.
It`s About Living
If you ask me, the most important part of living in a new city is not shopping, historical buildings and museums. It is about experiencing and exploring different kinds of living, and it is about creating memories.
Studying at AUP has been a lot of work, but luckily; hard work does not immediately eliminate good times. I have enjoyed my classes and the work related to them, but I have also done my best at experiencing the City of Lights.
Of all the things I`ve seen and done in these few months, I will not be listing up the stuff you can find in books bought last minute at airports. The different parts of the city, the small cafes, the amazing food, the everlasting wine; the culture in its entirety, and the people – it has been great, and it will all stick to me. But what I really remember are the details. The small things; good, sad and funny things, and most often, they include people. To tell the truth, it is not about Paris. It is about living.
Of the things I want to mention are the Norwegian, English and French birthday songs being sung to me at my birthday party. Also, the French guy asking me, with a worried look on his face, if it is true that Scandinavian girls actually take the initiative to talk with guys in bars. The taxi driver, proud as a father when I did my very best in having a conversation with him in French. The bartender at a cozy bar without a toilet, hurrying over the street to open up his home for me and my friend – and leaving us there while he returned to the bar, trusting us to be honest. The noise from the “water trucks”, cleaning the streets in the morning. Then there was this couple, disturbing my homework, but not without making me smile.
The smell of croissants and espresso on my way to Uni. The musicians at the metro, most of the time with empty cups, but always smiling. The firefighters, never giving up on trying to charm the female students walking by the station close to AUP. The consierge`s husband, whom I never have talked to, because he doesn`t understand a word of English, nor my very limited French. Still, always cheerful, wishing me bonne journée. The woman at my local boulangerie, teaching me how to ask for different types of bread, while letting me teach her the English terms. The festivals and concerts; experiencing Rock en Seine and Pitchfork, Vampire Weekend, Kakkmaddafakka, and not least, my one and only Frightened Rabbit.
A Hole in the Wall
You always discover the most fascinating places, just before you`re leaving. After some fine food and wine at Memere au Piano last weekend, we stumbled upon this amazing little bar, which consisted of an almost 90 year old bartender, a cat and a canary. The place was all dark and silent, not a whisper was heard, and all eyes were fixed on this fascinating old lady as she hobbled back and forth with five beers in hand and constantly watching her seven glasses, which were regularly filled with Cointreau and Calvados – the only two drinks she served, aside from beer. When one of the guests asked for music, she did put some on; she had a cassette player. While speaking to the other guests, we discovered that the bar was one of the oldest in the area, and one of the smallest in Paris. It felt more like a secret hole in the wall than an actual bar.
These are the things to remember.
As my friend said: “Honestly, you could write a book on that bar”. I could probably write a book on Paris, too. And maybe I will someday, but for now, I`ll stick to the memories.