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My Parisian Love Affair Has Ended

Treasure at the Louvre in Paris, France Treasure Aamayah

 There are two types of people in this world: Those who love Paris and those who do not.

People have differing opinions on cities around the world, but none are quite as polarizing as Paris. I used to wonder what made Paris elicit such strong emotions—and who on earth are these people who don’t love Paris?

Well I got my answer in March 2023: Me!

Through a series of compounding events, my rose-tinted glasses—the product of TV shows, movies, books, and newspaper articles—slowly came off, until it was as if they never existed in the first place.

First impressions count. Research shows that the average person takes seven seconds to make a first impression. In my experience, it took two hours for my unrequited love to turn to a quiet but hopeful sadness. (It was a feeling not unlike when you break up with an ex, but secretly want them back.) It took another two weeks and eventually leaving Paris—the city I had planned to live in for the next year—to accept the red flags and move on from a very short-lived love affair.

This breakup story begins in the air on Emirates flight EK0073. I sat next to a lovely Parisian girl, Lisa. “All tourists are robbed on the Metro so don’t go down there,” she said, with a laugh. It was a throwaway comment in the overall conversation, but it sat with me in the back of my mind. I was not oblivious to the perils of pickpocketing in Paris but it always felt like it was something that "wouldn’t happen to me."

Fast forward and I am standing on the little shuttle train that transports travellers between terminals. The train pulled up to a station and in the commotion of passengers getting off and on, a lady screams “Pickpocket! Your bag is open! There are pickpockets!” Sure enough, a couple standing a metre away from me had just been pickpocketed and their phones stolen. It was like all of a sudden, all of the warnings I had heard and that throwaway comment became reality. I remember a sense of dread climbing up my body and all the doubts of moving countries started to creep in.

Finally, I made it into Paris’ city centre at the train station Gare du Nord and power-walked like an Olympian to exit the station as quickly as possible. I kept thinking to myself: “I’m here! I’m in Paris! I’m finally living my dream!” But as I was walking to my Airbnb it became impossible to ignore the mountain peaks of piled-up rubbish. 

I sobbed and cried. I had packed up my whole life to move to Paris—and it wasn't what I imagined.

You see, I landed in Paris right at the end of garbage collector strikes, which meant that rubbish in many arrondissements (districts) hadn’t been collected in over a month. The charming sights I had dreamed of and longed for were surrounded by garbage.

When I got to my Airbnb, I sobbed and cried. These occurrences may seem like very minor to some but for me, I had packed up my whole life to move here. I quit my big-girl dream job to move here. I’m spending my life savings to be here! And here is not what I imagined! It was a confronting and tough realization to come to that not that all the glitters is gold in the City of Lights. 

So now what? Do I call it quits and go home? Absolutely not. I didn’t come all this way to a country I have been dreaming of for a decade to pack it in after the first two hours.

A fact of life is that our expectations, whatever they may be, are rarely ever met and in my experience it is for a yet unknown reason. I know I meant to live in France, but that doesn’t mean that I am meant to live in Paris. I came to France to find my heart, but first I need to find my home.

This is where the adventure begins.


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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Treasure Aamayah

Treasure Aamayah is an Aussie living the dream in the south of France. She is a storyteller, lover of engaging conversations with strangers and known for being a perpetual nomad, with her current move to France on a working holiday being her fifth international move. Follow her at @treasureaamayah.

Website: www.coddiwompleandco.com

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