Traveling alone to another country that speaks your language is hard. Traveling alone to another country that speaks a completely different language is something else entirely.
Paris was high on my list of places to see, but at first I was very hesitant to make any definite plans. I had so many doubts about going alone. However, when I found out my friend Jordyn from North Dakota State who is studying in Spain, was going to Paris with her school I thought it sounded like the perfect opportunity.
Even though most of my trip was solo, I got to spend time with her and her friends during their free time.
Planning the trip was the hardest part. I spent a lot of time researching places to stay before deciding to stay in the Marais at a hotel with multilingual staff and free Wi-Fi (of course). I decided to take the train since I felt that would be easier than flying. The two weeks before I left I spent preparing by trying to learn some French and figuring out the best routes to take from my dorm to the train station and from the train station to my hotel.
The day finally came when it was time for me to travel to Paris. Taking the London Tube to the train station was easy for me (I practically live and breath the Tube now). Once I arrived, I was relieved to see English translations on all the signs and ticket kiosks.
Taking the Metro to my hotel was nearly as easy as taking the Tube. The staff at the hotel was so friendly and helpful, so if I go back to Paris I will definitely stay there again. That night I saw Notre Dame and had dinner with Jordyn and her friends.
The next day I ventured around the city. I went to the Picasso Museum, the Louvre, Hotel De Ville and many other sites. I mostly walked since many of the landmarks were so close. The streets and buildings in Paris are incredibly beautiful, and navigating around the area is surprisingly easy.
On the other hand, it was a little intimidating to hear everyone speaking French. My two weeks of French did not help. Most of my conversations started out with, “Bonjour. Do you speak English?”
To my surprise, practically everyone spoke English. Later that day, I met Jordyn at the Eiffel Tower and we went to the top. The view was stunning.
On my last day, I started by going to the bridge with all the locks couples write their names on. It was such a nice day and the river was so beautiful. I spent most of my time visiting places along the river. I even had lunch right next to the river’s edge.
Finally, it was time for me to leave. Besides getting lost briefly in the Gare de Nord and Chatelet-Les Halles stations, getting back was easy. People were very helpful. Some even came up to offer me help because I looked very obviously lost.
All of my fears about traveling alone in a foreign speaking country didn’t matter. Everything I heard about France had me worried — like the people aren’t friendly and they refuse to speak English — didn’t hold true for my experience.
It’s good to realize I shouldn’t let my fear hold me back from going to these amazing places. All I need is some common sense and an adventurous attitude.