By Megan Kelly
From the beginning of the planning process, there were so many things about our trip to Paris to look forward to. The opportunities to experience a new culture, visit famous national landmarks, and incorporate our love of literature into a city rich in literary history were plaguing our mind for months before the trip. However, once there we realized that the places, activities, and experiences we were all looking forward to became infinitely better because of the people we were with.
On one of the first days of the trip, Dr. Rader turned to us and said, “It’s so great to be walking around with you guys. If I want to stop in a random book shop, you will all want to as well.” Over the course of the five days we spent in Paris, this sentiment was proven to be true in a number of different contexts. From the pre-determined activities to the ones that we picked up along the way, everyone involved was equally enthusiastic about everything we wanted to do.
The national landmarks that we visited, such as the le Tour Eiffel, l’Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame were magnificent for their sheer historical and cultural significance. Being able to experience the city from the top of each was purely breathtaking. But it was even more indescribable to be able to wander down a street past Ernest Hemmingway’s house or visit the graves of Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde. These experiences became so much more enriching because we were able to live them with people who appreciated them just as much.
Coming into the trip, I think everyone had one place or activity that they were looking forward to above the rest, for instance Ali was looking forward to Gertrude Stein’s house, while Tom wanted to see Victor Hugo’s. Personally, I was looking forward to visiting the catacombs, because of the rich history behind them and the influence they had over different writers such as Edgar Allen Poe. Once in the catacombs, it was easy to see how they have become so infamous in history, literature, and cinema alike. The sheer magnitude of the tunnels, the number of human bones, and the intricacy in which they were arranged was purely indescribable. While walking throughout the tunnels, you were instantly overcome with the realization that the remains of the humans surrounding you could have belonged to anyone and those people could have any story. This became ever too clear after seeing a skull that appeared to have a bullet hole going through its forehead.
Because of the nature of the individuals in our group, everyone really appreciated every aspect of it, not just the places they might have personally added to the itinerary. For me, the cohesion between the members of our group was the best part of the trip. We could have been able to see all of these different places on our own, or with people who weren’t interested, but instead we were able to share our excitement. And, we were able to wander into some pretty great bookshops along the way too.