Paris is beautiful all the time. We sleep in late, waking up after noon most days. It’s summer and potentially my last that’ll qualify as a vacation. Next year I plan to work full time, hopefully at a newsroom in a big city somewhere, making connections and hopefully impressing future employers. This summer my only obligation is to experience and relax while traveling all over Europe. My boyfriend, Justin and I have been planning this trip for over a year. We’ve been talking about it almost as long as we’ve been together (15 months this past May). Admittedly, most of the credit belongs to Justin. He’s more organized and a far bigger spender than I; two qualities which seems to be necessary when planning a long and costly cross-continent trip. Truthfully I didn’t really get into it until the week before we left. I was definitely excited and wholeheartedly committed to making the trip a reality, but I’ve always been pretty shortsighted when it comes to the future. Until school was done and all the stress of finals was over I just couldn’t focus on anything else. Thankfully for Justin, this two-month-long trip of a lifetime still came together. We flew out of Chicago late night on Sunday, May 21 and after a brief stop in Stockholm arrived in Paris early evening the next day. We’re staying in the home of an old friend. When I was fourteen my family hosted an exchange student from France for a few weeks. We’ve kept in touch ever since. Unfortunately he’s studying abroad in Argentina all summer, so we won’t be able to hang out. But at least that leaves an empty room for us in his family’s home in Vincennes, which is only a short metro ride from Paris. His mother met us at the airport. An incredibly kind and friendly woman, she reminded me of her son immediately. Thankfully, she also speaks english. I’ve taken three semesters of french in college to fulfill my language requirement, but I’ve never exactly been too gifted at picking up foreign languages. I scraped by with a C my first two semesters and somehow managed an A-, which I expect was thanks to my very kind and lenient professor. I’ve actually been surprised so far by how much of the french language I remember, which is good considering how few people seem to know english over here. Last Monday marked the halfway point of our stay in the city of love. We fly to Rome next Tuesday, June 6, where we’ll be for another two weeks. After that Sicily for a week, Amsterdam for four days, then we’re finishing off the trip with two weeks in Barcelona. At first I was hesitant to stay so long in a few cities rather than traveling to as many countries around Europe as possible. I’m now grateful for the amount we have in each spot. Two weeks in Paris affords us the time to sleep late and still see every part of the city. So far we’ve been to the catacombs, the Louvre, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower. We’ve seen the red light district in Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge. We’ve walked the streets of famous writers and artists like Hemingway and Picasso, and we still have five full days left. I’m excited to see where each day takes us.