Friday, July 8, 2016

Day 17: A Wave of Emotions

Today started off good, turned bad, then had a happy ending. I guess it's safe to say that at this point of the trip this should be expected 😂. What I really should say is that your day will be filled with so many unexpected experiences, some good and some bad. Some preventable and some not. What I suggest is to always make the best of it and not allow it to ruin your entire day, your week, or your thoughts about the city.

Today I slept in and headed to the city to enjoy a diner we found yesterday that serves pancakes and waffles. Although we've been encouraged to always try new things on this trip, I believe every now and again having something that reminds you of home is needed. Unfortunately, the diner was open but no one wanted to serve us. The staff was downstairs doing only God knows what while we stood upstairs waiting to be served. One person from our group even went to the staircase and spoke to one of the staff members who acknowledged her but still never came to serve us. After about 20 minutes we left and found a crape stand and ate there. By is time it was time to travel across the city to meet Dr. V and the rest of our group. 

Someway we got turned around and lost and needed instructions. I pulled out my phone and translated how to say " Hello, I'm looking for the Saint Paul's stop." Now I don't know French fluently, but as a vocal music major I had to sing in it for four years. I know how to pronounce things and make it sound correct so I stood off to the side and practiced this phrase for about 2 minutes. According to the teachers Parisians will help you if you attempt to speak the language so I was determined to try. I approached the help desk, smiled, and said the phrase and the attendant without hesitation started giving me directions, but in French. He was speaking so fast and pointing to this map, circling things, and pointing...I didn't have the heart to say I didn't understand. I must have said this phrase too convincingly because he didn't realize I wasn't following him until he handled me the map with his directions on it and seen my phone with the translated phase still on the screen. He then gave me instructions in English. 

We made it to our destination, had lunch with Dr. V, then experienced something unexpected. We discovered that the French planned to conduct a protest. This caused an issue for my partner and I because we planned to do research in that area. We went searching for a skate shop when we turned the corner and seen an area that was filled with police and swat teams with guns out. The street we needed had been blocked off, stores were closing, the glass had been removed from the bus stops advertising. This area had an eerie silence and I knew that we needed to get out of it quickly. We started speed walking to the train station only to find it closed due to the protest. We decided to head in another direction using "Maps2Go" which is an app that allows you to use a map of an area offline. While speed walking we passed two ladies who were speaking English. I asked them where they were from and both said Utah. I told them that I too was an American and advised them to leave the area. They thanked me and stared speed walking as well. 

We found a working train station and got on a train. We were headed to another part of town when the gentleman next to me started patting his pockets. He immediately started cursing and screaming about how someone had pick pocketed him. Basically, from the time he swiped to get into the station to the time he got on the train he had been pick pocketed. By this time, I was upset and needed to get to an area I felt I could let my guard down. We decided to end research and just went back to the school. My nerves were bad, I was in a bad mood, and I just wanted to go home. I ended up falling asleep and woke to messages from students stating they wanted to go see the Eiffel Tower. Although I was still shaken by the day's events I went. Seeing the tower light up at night made me forget some of the day's events. It caused me to remember that I was in Paris, and yes it's dangerous, but all cities are dangerous. You have to take the good with the bad and just be careful and aware of your surroundings. Tomorrow is a new day and with that the chance to have a great experience.