If you’d told my fifteen-year-old self that I would end up living in Paris at age twenty, I would probably have laughed. Somehow this wound up coming true, though – after 20 years living in my hometown of São Paulo, I packed my bags to start anew in another continent.
It all started in February 2016, when I started my studies of Actuarial Sciences the University of São Paulo. Three semesters were enough for me to realise that it was not the career (or life) for me, and I started to wonder about what I really wanted from life. Especially after spending a year and a half doing something I didn’t enjoy, I decided to invest my time in something I had actual interest in.
Whilst researching for suitable degrees, I stumbled upon European universities which offered courses merging Fashion with subjects such as Marketing and Business. Being that I’ve always had interest in entrepreneurship, I was immediately interested and excited. After much thought, research and conversation with my family, I chose my degree: Fashion Business at Istituto Marangoni Paris!
Four months of much paperwork and preparation passed, then I finally arrived in France in October 2017. Every day seemed an adventure – puzzling through a different culture and language, relying solely on myself to solve all sorts of problems, and knowing my own success and happiness depend entirely on me… I’m incredibly grateful for having such a challenging and amazing opportunity!
I’ve been living here for five months now, and even though I have become accustomed to my new routine, the sense of adventure, growth and discovery persists. It is still a part of my life here – the best part, honestly.
SO… WHAT’S IT LIKE TO LIVE IN PARIS?
To be honest… Living in Paris is much like living in any other big city. Of course, the first couple of weeks after I arrived, I couldn’t exit any metro station without being in complete awe of the city’s beautiful architecture and atmosphere; but I’m afraid it does tend to dull slightly with time. My Parisian friends say the same – in the rush of day-to-day life, you tend to “forget” about your surroundings, which turn into a rich and pretty background. Some even say they’ve never visited the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel tower!
But other than that, there are plenty of people everywhere, the metro is often crowded and sometimes people seem a bit aloof and distant – and not, as myth dictates, rude. You will find that approaching locals with a simple bonjour will do wonders in helping you be engaged with politely! I’ve encountered very few problems with them, who value proper behavior and adherence to social codes – following these will most likely make your interactions much more pleasant. Even though my French is very limited, they tend to appreciate the fact that I try – sometimes, they’ve even asked if I speak English before I get the chance to ask them myself.
Even though it is a big city, it’s not quite like São Paulo, which doesn’t seem to sleep. Paris is quieter, smaller and more charming, whilst still being rich and diverse. One of the elements that most surprised me was the bureaucracy – even knowing of the reputation that everything takes months and a lot of paperwork, I was still taken by surprise. Fair warning: the rumors are true. Be prepared!
Since I’m a student under 26, I can take advantage of the fact that I can enter most museums in the city for free – and boy, there are plenty! It is also worth mentioning that a lot of museums offer free entry for all on certain dates or times – you can find the full list here. Though I do enjoy the Louvre for its incredibly rich and diverse collection, I do encourage visitors to step off the beaten path and try to discover other interesting expositions.
Living here has been an incredibly enriching experience. I’ve met and worked with all sorts of interesting people from all over the world, learned so much (about myself and about the world!), seen and felt so many things… And I still expect to do so much more!
I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of this stunning journey. Thank you for reading!