By Jamie Carroll
I studied abroad in Paris in fall of 2006, and I had never thought that I would feel homesick. Walking around a strange city alone leads to much introspection and what I discovered was an unexpected longing for home.
During one fateful stroll, I discovered my favorite street in Paris. It is not a street near the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre or any other famous Parisian landmark. Along the Seine, in the Second Arrondissement, there is a street blanketed in greenery. I squeezed past potted plants on the sidewalk, and dodged eager flower shoppers to discover my own little space on Quai de la Mégisserie.
I soon learned that this street housed more than the plants destined to reside in 19th century Paris apartments; it also housed the pets. Scattered between the various flower shops on this block were pet shops with plastic boxes containing any house pet imaginable.
My eyes went straight to the dogs. In two bins, stacked on top of one another, were puppies of all kinds, yipping and barking away. I grinned as soon as I spotted these loving creatures. Their elated, kind faces didn’t exactly remind me of home, but they did make me feel instantly happy. They seemed to expel homesickness from my mind.
After that day, I went to my getaway at least once a week. With a crepe in hand, I would walk along the Quai de la Mégisserie, stopping at each and every pet shop and glancing over the eager inhabitants.
Just thinking about the sun setting over the Seine, munching on a buttery crepe and petting those puppies, makes me want to hop on a plane back to Paris. The way to survive the foreign elements of a new place is to find a location that is your own. The café you go to every day to study, the crepe stand around the corner from your apartment or the bookstore you peruse from time to time. For me, that place became the Quai de la Mégisserie; those puppies my greatest comfort.