Meeting new people is quite interesting isn’t it? They were always there, in fact you might have even crossed paths, they just weren’t a part of your life.
Now this fascinates me in many ways, mainly because I always found taking that first step hard. You see some might say I am a shy girl, in fact I could even label myself as one, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get to know you. But that’s the weird thing about first impressions, they set you up for expectations. After seeing someone for the first time, you’ll probably be lead to categorize him or her. Not intentionally of course, it’s just something that happens. Now the big difference lies on whether you are willing to see past that and find out more, or just stay like that, in the dark.
You see one moment can change it all. A simple decision can make it or break it; saying yes or no to a metro ride with someone, or a study session in the library, or simply laughing at a remark being made about your name. In just a second, you can go from being in your own bubble, to acknowledging another human being that could unexpectedly become a big part of your life.
Now I must say I never really had to experience much of this. Up until the age of 18, I grew up around the same people and group of friends. We knew and still know everything about each other, went through our worst phases together, and can probably tell if something’s wrong even if it is just over the phone or a message. Needless to say, stepping out of it was a rather unsettling situation. I didn’t know how to approach strangers, and even worse, having to do so in a different language terrified me. But here’s something I’ve learned, no matter how scared or shy you might be, if you are open to the possibilities, things can work out in the end.
Being able to say yes or just considering it can open the door to and endless world full of relationships and bonds, created in seconds, amongst people who somehow, somewhere, found their way to each other. You can end up meeting people who have never been to your country, and yet from miles away are fascinated and want to know more. Or people from a totally different background and culture, that might understand your struggles better than those you grew up with.
To me this is the beauty about Paris, and big international cities in general. You have a pool of stories and cultures in one same spot; Australia, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Georgia, France, England, Colombia and much more. Now if you would’ve asked me three years ago if I thought I would know someone in each of these countries, my answer would’ve probably been no. However today, I can tell you that I feel more connected to the world and the people around me than never before.
I’ve learned that Melbourne is known for its coffee, and never to question a Melbourian’s knowledge on it. I travelled to Ecuador for the first time after meeting a great group of Ecuadorians studying in France, and have now ironically gathered and adopted quit a few of their expressions. I’ve been to England to be welcomed by a Romanian family, allowing me to learn from both cultures at once. And, recently and unexpectedly, I’ve learned more about Sri Lanka’s culture, dances and language in the past few months than I ever thought I would.
The list could go on and on, and to be honest I think it is one I’m really proud of. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the experiences I’ve had. I’ve built friendships and relationships that are scattered all over the globe, and I’m constantly amazed by how much I am able to learn everyday from the people that surround me.
Creating bonds is part of what makes us human. Realizing that the girl or boy you cross paths with everyday could have a similar experience to yours puts you in this interesting position, where you suddenly feel less like just an individual, and more like part of a community. Now, I must say that before coming here, these were circumstances that terrified me. But now, I can safely say that I’m happy with where I’m headed.
I’m going to be honest; I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know whom I might meet, or who might not stay. The one thing I can say though is, that every single person you know can have a great impact in your life. So take a chance and say “Hi”, however many times it might take, there’ll always be that one person who’ll reply.
Before the Paris metro, there was “La Petite Ceinture” or little belt. Its tracks encircle what was the 19th century Paris, and have been shut down since the mid 80’s. Having been built in between the city’s forts, it has been kept isolated, allowing nature to slowly reclaim the space to make it, what is now, a beautiful green inner city railway.
This is one of those “known” secrets of Paris. Given that the rails mostly run within an open space, tourists and locals walk past it constantly, but the question always remains on how to get down. Now there are a few areas open to the public (15th, 17th and 19th Arr.), but what interests all the explorers out there is getting down to the “untouched” areas.
My favourite spot is down on the 14th Arrondisement. Between Porte d’Orleans and Alesia you’ll find several bridges that look down into the rails, but don’t worry, just a little walk next to the fence and you’ll find a little DIY door from which you’ll be able to go down.
Ideal for urban explorers and graffiti artist, you’ll find yourself in a whole different world at the heart of Paris, forgetting that right above you a hectic big city lifestyle is still going on.
I spent countless hours during my first year here looking for the entrance to this one spot, figuring out whether there was a way to go down and if I was courageous enough to do so. Until finally a few months ago I decided to go explore with one of my roommates. Turned out getting down was not that hard, leaving “La Petite Ceinture” as one of my favourite places to go, especially for photoshoots.
There is a pretty cool atmosphere being down there. You bump into all sorts of people: photographers, models, musicians, tag artists, tourists etc., that are all really friendly and at ease with each other. I guess knowing that we’re all in on this “secret” makes you part of this really interesting thing, which I had never came across in Paris. There’s a bit of a community that is built as more and more people bump into each other. And although we are all essentially there to do our own thing, chatting with others or just hanging out doesn’t feel awkward at all.
If you’re ever in Paris for any given reason or you live here, don’t hesitate on trying this little adventure out!
If you had to give one answer, to define what you would call home, would you be able to do it in just a few words?