It was about 9:30 in the morning when the taxi driver dropped me outside the apartment that I’d booked through Airbnb. He helped me with my bags, grunting with the weight of my 30kg suitcase, and drove off. I stood there waiting, knowing it would be about 20 to 30 minutes before the girl who was due to give me the key could meet me.
I stood on the street, trying to stop my suitcases from rolling down the hill, thinking “Oh my God. What have I done?”
Here I am in my first hour of living in a new city, out of the family home for the very first time and I feel completely out of place, terrified someone will approach me and ask a question in French that I don’t know how to respond to.
But, alas, along came Mathilde. We hadn’t even moved off the street and she was already asking about what I wanted to do in Paris and offering to speak to her friend who works in the industry. Her welcoming nature made me instantly at ease.
Yes, the metro sometimes smells like urine and there are copious amounts of red tape preventing me from doing things like setting up a French bank account, but Paris is beautiful. The weather is almost unseasonably warm, there is always a boulangerie nearby and I have met great people from all corners of the world.