When I say that this past weekend was life changing, I mean it. I, the girl from Georgia, got to experience real fluffy/pure/fresh/freezing snow. This photo about sums it up:
As stupid as this sounds, my first reaction (besides throwing myself into the first pile of glorious white heaven that I saw) was "Wow...snow is so cold." which quickly dissolved into "TOO COLD! SOS!"
As my friends here in Paris could tell you, the terror of being in weather below zero degrees Celsius consumed my entire being for the week before we landed in Milan, Italy. Living in the south, I don't do cold weather. I wouldn't even consider looking at universities in the north of the United States because I hated cold weather so much. So, when I experienced my first gust of blustery winter blah...I went into shut down mode and was convinced I would die a slow and painful death by having my blood freeze. However, I eventually warmed up (physically and mentally) to the idea of anything below 10 degrees Celsius.
The weekend was jammed full of new and exciting experiences. Here are the highlights:
- The traveling. In total it was a shuttle, 2 flights, 2 four hour bus rides, one taxi ride and countless metro/RER trips (plus four rides for me on the ski lift!!! Making moves! Doing big things!). Everything went smoothly except for when we accidentally left three of my friends stranded in a middle-of-nowhere town in Italy an hour and a half from both our starting point and destination. We got them back eventually, but let's just say that all the Italian people on the bus were not surprised it was the Americans who messed up the bus schedule and didn't even try to hold back their laughter when we asked the bus driver to turn around (which he so kindly did, but at this point our friends had assumed we had left them for good and we abandoned them a second time)
- Skiing! Growing up, my mother instilled an image of the horrors of skiing into my head. I was told it was overrated, too cold and dangerous. While I understand the cold and dangerous part, skiing feels like nothing I've even done before. It's both terrifying and exhilarating. It feels like you are flying with no restraints and also hurtling down a mountain with no safe way of stopping. That was my greatest challenge, stopping. My ski instructor (who turned out to be Pinot Meynet, the Italian skier who set the record for fastest skier by going a whopping 194.384 km/h in 1975) quickly learned that I could follow him with ease, but stopping resulted in me either face-planting into the snow or crashing into him. Either way, each lesson ended with "Très bon, Kira! Mais vous devez commencer à arrêter!" (Did I mention that each lesson was IN FRENCH??) If you can imagine a bright orange object zooming (a slow zoom, but a zoom) past you releasing a high-pitched noise resembling a boiling kettle while being yelled at in French to "Arrêtez!!!", then you can understand my skiing experience. Here is proof that I was both bright orange and learned how to stop eventually.
- The people. Besides my amazing travel companions/friends...everyone we encountered treated us with warmth and respect. Not that I don't feel the love in France, but from what I have experienced, the familiarity between everyday interactions in Italy is unlike what you find in Paris.
For being away for just a few days, coming back to Paris felt like I was finally home after weeks away. That's one of the ways that this weekend was life changing...realizing that Paris is my home. It's not just a city I am living in anymore. Ever since the attacks I have felt even more attached to this city, but seeing the lights of Paris as my plane from Milan landed and feeling the sensation of "I'm so glad I'm home" cemented Paris as a home in my heart.
To conclude, here are a few more pictures from the trip (credit to Nick Boulos who took on role as my personal photographer)