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Paris, Personal

A Fortnight in Paris

August 6, 2020

I’ve just returned from two very eventful weeks in Paris – life could not be better right now. Paris has always served as a highly inspiring city to visit; each time upon my return, I find myself eager to write in length or carry my camera around at all times. This is mostly why I frequently think about moving my base from Malta to Paris – in an ideal world, I’d be able to shift between the two, but this pandemic has me thinking it’ll be a while before I can make such plans. The prospect of being tied down to one country and failing to upkeep work commitments in the other is terrifying to say the least. I’ve come to terms with the fact that 2020 will have to be a simple year, one experienced spontaneously. Big goals and plans just won’t do – and that’s a tough one to swallow for a person like myself, who has planned something major every year for the past five years. 

I also received quite a bit of judgment for choosing to travel to Paris now – but this was not just some summer vacation that could always be postponed. I consider this city my second home. Previous blog posts will explain further, but so as to summarise, after having lived and travelled there a few times a year over the past five years, I’ve a life there that I simply cannot abandon. There are great friends and work that I always anticipate returning to. And the stories I have in that city? Oh, they’re plentiful. The spontaneous encounters, the days spent wandering around cobbled streets and getting lost as a result, the boozy brunches and fancy evenings, Paris Fashion Week, the terrible months spent at fashion school, the intimidating afternoons in which an inexperienced, eighteen-year-old Nat would attempt the bureaucratic aspect of living in France, and the rodent-infested first ever apartment of mine – with its Parisian windows, parquet flooring, marble fireplace and all. When I think back to the time I studied there, I remember running to uni with a croissant in hand and tote bag slung over my shoulder, oftentimes carrying an incredibly heavy suitcase stuffed with a sewing machine and an unending list of art supplies along with me. I was mostly exhausted from a lack of sleep and the toll fashion school took on my health. I lived on the same two meals if I could find the time for them, and my social life did not consist of much more than a chat shared over coffee at Le Dome in the 17th. I almost hated Paris momentarily – life there was not easy. It was mentally and financially draining, but most of all? It pushed me to re-evaluate the career goals I thought I had efficiently planned out. If it weren’t for that crucial experience, I might still be wasting good money and I might still be an aspiring fashion designer. I’d also still be just about to start up my career, which is actually a crazy thought now – given how much I’ve been able to accomplish career-wise in the past two or three years. Paris was a place of growth, and it continues to serve as a reminder of how difficult life could be, all the while inspiring me. Paris isn’t all about the Eiffel Tower, glamorous shopping destinations and haute couture – for many who live there, it’s all about great budgeting skills and the willingness to put up with run-down, tiny apartments for the sake of career growth and life opportunities. 

I don’t loathe life in Malta, but it is just far too comfortable. That is never healthy – not for one’s personal growth, and not for one’s ambitions. I do strongly believe that anyone who does not frequently venture outside the island will likely never realise their privileges. That’s where the renowned island mentality stems from. So embark on your exciting trips, my darlings; perhaps in due time if not now, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore a world unknown to you. 

Natalya Vukovic