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I ‘ve made a lot of friends in Paris, including William Parkhill, a 20-year-old art history and studio art major at CU. Even though we have a lot of mutual friends, we didn’t meet each other until we got here.

And despite coming from similar backgrounds to the same place — we’re even in the same study abroad program — our overall experiences have been incredibly different.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about becoming a flaneur, someone who becomes a part of the city by observing it. From the start of his time here, Parkhill has had no trouble embracing this element of Parisian culture.

Much of his free time here has been spent walking around Paris, and he has tried to not take the Métro if he can help it.

“A lot of people in Paris know the tunnels of the Métro better than the streets of the city,” he said. “The areas they know are concentrated around single Métro stops; they never take the time to understand or experience everything that is in between.”

Parkhill lives in the 20th arrondissement, a neighborhood on the east side of Paris.

“The areas near the river are almost prefabricated for tourists,” he said. “In my traditionally working class neighborhood, people seem more… real.”

He enjoys the opportunity to meet the “regulars” at various cafés after their work shifts.

“A lot of the friends I’ve made here have been random chance encounters in my neighborhood.”

Paris is the perfect city for an art history major like Parkhill.

“My classes are great with my major, especially with on-site visits to museums,” he said. “It’s so much different to see a painting in a book or on a computer screen, and then to see it up close in real life.”

As a notoriously slow eater, Parkhill has had no problem adjusting to the French attitude surrounding food.

“I love that in France, eating is an event you dedicate time to,” he said. “I’ve really appreciated the freedom that comes with the dining experience here.”

He’s also been trying to have an open mind about French food.

“I like to order a random dish off the menu, and it’s usually good. But one time, I gotandouillette, which ended up being sheep’s stomach mixed in with sausage — I don’t think stomachs were meant to digest other stomachs.”

Parkhill has traveled around Europe for much of the semester — sometimes booking a train ticket the night before he left.

“There’s a certain satisfaction you get from figuring out the logistics of a trip, andthen actually getting to where you wanted to go,” he said. His two favorite cities have been Budapest and Brussels. “Both are similar to Paris in terms of the atmosphere, but the people are a lot nicer.”

After traveling Europe with his family over winter break, Parkhill will return to Paris for the spring semester. He hopes to continue to make a point of discovering new areas around the city, and to solidify his relationships with the people in his neighborhood.

Nonetheless, Parkhill said he will be happy to return to the U.S. one day.

“Living here has definitely inspired me — I want to live in every major American city at least once in my life.”

Jessica Ryan is a junior media studies major at CU-Boulder. She writes about study abroad experiences once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.

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