Excerpts from Olivia’s Paris Journal: Chapter II

I am getting used to Paris.

Don’t get me wrong, I still snap a picture almost every time I see the Eiffel Tower, and wander around my neighborhood in the evenings just to listen. The magic is not lost on me. But as I type this letter to you on the French keyboard in my office, I don’t even need to look down. This morning on the metro I didn’t have to hold onto the greasy metal pole to stable myself, because even with my headphones on I know exactly how far apart my feet need to be, exactly when to bend each knee to prevent toppling over on my Parisian neighbor on the commute. I can order coffee without getting anxious about it, or practicing 10 times outside the cafe before going in.

I’m settling in. I received my first piece of mail at my Paris address and I hung my Frida Kahlo poster next to my desk.

My work life is picking up speed. The first week or so was a bit sleepy, as everyone was returning from holiday, but now the whole team is back and on Tuesday we had a big meeting

Earlier this week there was a staff meeting for the Courier magazine where I am working at UNESCO. The team is composed of people from almost every continent and the energy is refreshing and different than anything I have ever exprienced.

We had big picture conversations about the purpose of the publication, our audience, and how we are working together to produce engaging and relevant journalism. And my editor and I shared a presentation about engagement strategies that I spent days working on. It was exciting to see the ideas being presented in front of such a big, important group, and interesting to see the ways they were perceived by people from so many different generations and backgrounds.

In between meetings and assignments, my editor divulged the location of the underground coffee shop at UNESCO. When I tried to go back later on my own, I got lost in the windowless basement hallways and had to ask for directions back to my office from three different people.

I am learning a lot about web formatting and editing and am feeling more confident every day in these tasks and others. I am also dreaming up more and better story ideas as each day passes and feel more excited about journalism than I have in a while. (This should tell you a lot considering the sad news of layoffs from Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Gannett last week.)

Outside of work, I braved my first Paris snow and considered buying a full-body parka.

I spent the evenings this week working on my cooking skills with my culinary mastermind roommates (if you know me, you know this is huge), dancing a lot, and showing this incredible city off to my cousin, Gabby, who visited from Seattle. We climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe on a clear day at golden hour and it was magical, and wandered through the Yves Saint Laurent Museum admiring his sketches and beautiful designs.

My time here is flying by, and I want to cherish every minute. I have been here almost a month and as I feel less and less like a tourist, it is easy to forget that I am in a magical world city. Let this serve as my commitment to continue exploring and being amazed by this city, even as I feel more and more at home.


Olivia R. Sanchez is a journalist and M.S. candidate at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. She can be reached by email at oliviarsanchez18@gmail.com or on Twitter at @OliviaRSanchez.

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