Excerpts from Olivia’s Paris Journal: Chapter IV

Well, my soul may love Paris, but my immune system definitely does not.

I am sick for the second time in six weeks despite my best efforts to avoid all germs*. I am not typing this post on my clickety French keyboard while swiveling around in my 1990’s office chair– I’m propped up at home on my lumpy Parisian mattress and I haven’t eaten anything but vegetable soup in 48 hours.

As awful as I feel, I still love Paris more each week.

This week I started to make friends with the other interns (yes, it took me this long). We are a confusing mix of interns, fellows and trainees, but is easier to just say interns and recognize that we are all young people living in Paris for the first time, and we are all confused on a daily basis. This introvert had lunch with other interns everyday except Friday of this week, which was both wonderful and exhausting. My favorite day was Tuesday, when we returned from the group grocery store trip and I convinced everyone into eating outside in the sunshine even though it was still terribly cold.

While we were eating in the Japanese garden at UNESCO, I also noticed that one of the many cherry blossom trees has sprouted tiny, pink buds. I’m absolutely thrilled. I always struggle when people ask me what my favorite season is, because I love all of them, especially when they are changing. I love the rhythm and the newness and I especially love the magic and rebirth of springtime.

In the office my work continues to be challenging. I am learning so much about engagement and am feeling more confident in my skills everyday. More though, I am enjoying just being here at UNESCO. Almost every morning when I arrive at work, there is a long line at the visitors entrance, and inside there are friendly greetings handing out name badges, tote bags emblazoned with the name of the event of the day, and free copies of the New York Times.

At least once a week, it seems, there are events for children. I love this dedicated to youth education, and I feel so grateful to be working with an organization that’s mission is so reflective of my own. And it makes me so happy to see the school-age kids bumbling around in their brightly colored backpacks. I always think that if I ever tire of journalism, I could happily be an art teacher.

I am still making good on my Starbucks ban while abroad, and am starting to wonder how much money I have saved by only buying tiny Parisian espressos at work a few days a week. It’s not so much the coffee that I miss (with the exception of Christmastime, I really only buy regular house coffee), but the awkward banter with the barista, or the quiet moment with my steaming drink in my parked car.

Saying that I am homesick is a stretch, but being sick, and approaching 6 weeks in Paris is making me think a lot about all the little comforts and familiarities that I miss.

Still, I am happy and am keeping very busy here. Because I know you’re wondering, I did attend the international dance battle I mentioned last week. It was so awesome that I wrote a separate post about my experience.

I also carved out time to go across town to the lone Latino Market. It was totally worth the 40 minute metro ride each way to buy some beans and 

tortillas and arepa flour. And to be able to chat with the cashier in Spanish, and read all the ingredients on anything I grabbed off the shelf. It was like a little taste of home. My heart and my stomach are both very content.

*Potential Memoir Titles:

Confessions of a twenty-something germaphobe (notes from the Paris metro)

I’m basically a social butterfly now


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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