I Am: A Francophile

My love affair with Paris began almost a decade ago when I was a college Junior spending a year in the City of Light. I’d been studying French since I was twelve and was now knee-deep in international finance classes taught only in my second language. Time in class was intense (and mildly terrifying at first), but I was able to schedule my classes so I had long weekends off in which to explore Paris and travel as far as the trains could take me.

Once I returned, I completed my French minor, briefly (and disastrously) dated a Frenchman, and joined the Alliance Française here in Chicago to keep up my language.

Sometimes, I still dream in French.

I talk about my time abroad almost constantly. I used to feel bad for being such a one-trick pony, but honestly, no other decision in college has had such a lasting impact. You just can’t know me without knowing the French me.

Paris was the site of so many adult firsts. The first lease I signed was in French. The first bank account I opened was in France. My first encounter with petty theft and subsequent trip to the police office to report said theft: Paris. I dealt with utilities (including three trips to France Telecom), visa requirements (with a trip to a less-than-glamorous neighborhood to get a chest x-ray to prove that I wasn’t harboring tuberculosis), and multiple government agencies (monthly student stipend; socialism, for the win!). I was a mini-adult with unbelievable, sudden freedom and the resultant self-confidence to get things done.

I am a Francophile to my core and never hesitate to defend my adopted homeland. Don’t even get me started on “Freedom Fries” because you know that was completely ridiculous. I grind my teeth whenever someone tells me that the French are rude (and then, after politely letting them finish their misguided diatribe, I jump in to gently correct). I’m a mini-ambassador and fount of information. French Gruyère is better than Swiss Gruyère. French Fries are Belgian.  

Paris, perhaps glorified through the rosy lens of nostalgia, is a place of magic for me. I constantly dream of moving back. 

Perhaps someday I will.


About Helena

Helena lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and two cats. Her boyfriend thinks she's awesome. Her cats agree.

Posted on August 8, 2011, in Who I Am and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Paris is just a magical, beautiful place–and I don’t understand people who don’t like it. I’m incredibly jealous that you spent so much time there…The 6 days I have spent in Paris is just not enough!!!

  2. It sounds like you had such a lovely time, and I hope you find your way back there soon! I am hopping to study abroad in London, I’m sure it’s such an amazing experience to study abroad!

  3. Loved reading this post! You got me even more excited for our upcoming trip!

  4. I love so much this city too! And I’m living near of it ! 😉

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