A Year in Paris

It's been three weeks since I arrived in Paris. I boarded a plane, moved to a country to which I had never been before, unpacked my bags and settled into my little studio, my home for the next eleven months. I spent the summer preparing for this move to the other side of the world, anticipating what would happen once I arrived, thinking about how I would feel living in a place that is completely different from the standard normalcy that I knew.

I have yet to feel a wave of culture shock or discomfort. And although it seems odd to not feel the slightest bit of unease, I have obtained a sense of peace being here. I expected to feel overwhelmed, wanting to experience all of Paris once I arrived, diving in head first with a mentality that there is much to see with little time. Yet, I realized I am not on a vacation with a departure date, I actually live here. I have the next year to walk along my favorite street corners, learn the names of the people who work at the corner market I frequent and find myself completely lost within the city (in the best way possible). 

In order to experience situations that deviate from your comfort zone, you have to give and take to put your plans into motion. I happen to be working a job here that has absolutely nothing to do with what I studied and isn't what I would describe as my passion or life long career aspiration. I put my career plans and goals on pause to take this year for myself. Essentially it is a gap year to figure out what exactly it is I want moving forward. In the last month, my friend & I started a small company, I began thinking about pursuing higher education and even seriously considered the idea that for the next few years I may not want to call one specific place home. I am someone with an abundance of dreams, a handful of items on my "things to do in my lifetime" list and this move is a fitting beginning. This work opportunity is described as a cultural exchange, the ability for me to fully integrate myself into the French culture by understanding their way of life, learning the language and being surrounded by the feeling of a family while being on my own. There is purpose and understanding that this is a stepping stone to reach another goal. Even though a year may seem long, before I know it this sliver of my life will be over and I will be moving onto what is to come next. In my planning nature, I am taking each day to appreciate the beautiful opportunity I have been able to make a reality, with the mindset that I must start putting into motion the plans for my future. Because if there is one thing I know to be true, it is that time waits for no one. 

Before I left, I sat with my dad and discussed my lack of attachment. He told me that he feels that at this point in my life, I feel no attachment to one singular place and that is why the idea of moving away from my steady life and loved ones, is a challenge I have embraced without worry. In truth, I had never thought about my wandering nature in that context. I know I am the kind of person that can't be somewhere for too long. I sometimes feel I have not been challenged enough to test my personal and intellectual capacity. I overthink every situation and have an overwhelming fear that I will waste my time. I'm starting to see that all of these fragments of who I am have turned me into this person who is missing something. Whether that be a place, person or thing to fill a space within me -- to make me feel like I could stand still for a while --- is where this detachment stems from.  I can't say I have found it yet and in the spirit of being honest with myself, I'm not sure I ever will. 

Yet with all of this in mind, I am looking forward to the possibility of growth that this next year will offer. I want nothing more than to be tested and endure, learn from others and in turn figure out more about myself. I am fully aware that this will not be easy, but I can be certain that it will be worth it.


Shannon Ciricillo