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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, February 25, 2024

Kate in Paris: Visitors


Two weeks ago, thanks to several Tufts friends who came to visit Paris (and me), I had the chance to reexperience the city through their eyes and feel the excitement of Paris all over again.  

As I am sure many of my readers might be aware, two weeks ago was Tufts’ spring break, and it seems that many students currently studying on the Medford/Somerville campus took the week to visit friends currently studying abroad. I was lucky to have a few visitors myself, and guiding them around a city that has now become my homemade for a truly wonderful week.  

In my last column, I talked about Paris’ nearing spring, and the reinvigoration that a changing season brings. Over spring break, my friends and I got to experience the best of it, with sunny days falling somewhere in the 60s and cooler, pleasant evenings when the sun set later and later each day. And even though my pollen allergies kicked it into high gear, Paris welcomed its visitors with the beautiful spring that has made it the subject of poems and the backdrop of romantic comedies. Even if Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson in “Midnight in Paris” (2011), promotes the magic of Paris in the rain, I do find that it is especially pleasant to sit with friends in the Place des Vosges under a blue sky and bright sun. But I see his point, too, I suppose. 

More than anything, hosting visitors the week of spring break gave me the perfect excuse to act the part of the tourist, which, as much as I feel integrated into Parisian life at this point, I suppose I still am in some respects. But I’m more than happy to play that part when it means riding bikes at the Palace of Versailles, traversing the Seine on an unseasonably warm evening or admiring “The Thinker” at the Musée Rodin. Above all else, being able to see Paris through the eyes of others has shown me how much I have grown, learned and made this place my home since the semester began. There comes a sense of personal pride when you find yourself navigating the Paris metro seamlessly, knowing exactly which car to position yourself in to disembark closest to your desired exit, a feat which only a few months ago would have required the near-constant checking of Google Maps.  

Melding my Tufts life with my new world here was, at first, somewhat daunting. Would my friends think I had changed? Would they think I had not changed “enough,” whatever that means? But good friends make it easy to fall back into the friendship that was there before and to pick up right where you left off. At times, it seemed almost easiest to separate this semester from my ones on Tufts’ campus, to compartmentalize my experiences here and keep the two worlds separate. But it makes me happy knowing that when the time comes to return from this semester away, my friends and I will be able to share this piece of the experience together and that I was able to take them into my new world, even if only for a week.