Experiencing Paris after the attack: Ohio student studying abroad discusses personal story in Paris

Experiencing+Paris+after+the+attack%3A+Ohio+student+studying+abroad+discusses+personal+story+in+Paris

The night of the terrorist attack that rocked Paris, I was watching the soccer game on TV, actually. I had been at Disneyland Paris all day and was exhausted. I heard it was a big game so I figured I’d watch it before bed. I turned it off about 10 minutes before the chaos broke out there and fell asleep, completely oblivious to what I was going to wake up to.
I woke up at about 7:30 a.m. with over 300 notifications on my cell phone. Before I knew what had happened I was reading messages from people I haven’t spoken to in years asking if I was OK. I had frantic texts from my parents and sister.
I woke up my friend in the bed next to me and we turned on the news. I was shaking and my hands were ice cold. The news anchor was emotional and telling people to stay inside and showing clips of the attacks. I felt like I went to sleep in the City of Light and Love and woke up in the middle of a war zone.
I responded to everyone’s messages letting them know I was OK because I didn’t know what else to say. I didn’t know what was outside or what to do next.
We peeked outside and saw cops driving by every few minutes, even though we were about 30 minutes outside of the city center.
My train out of Paris was scheduled for that evening at 8:50 p.m. I checked to see if it was canceled, but was relieved when it wasn’t.
I thought there was no way I could get an earlier train because I figured everyone would want out of Paris but actually there were many tickets available. I realized this was because people wanted to avoid public transportation.
We were hungry and not sure what to do or where to go. We heard that everything was closed. When we actually left the hotel, the streets were empty but businesses were still open. We were able to find somewhere to eat, thankfully.
Unsure of what to do or where to go for the eight hours we had to kill, something I never thought I would feel in Paris. Who wonders how to kill time in Paris?
We were told by the news, family and friends to avoid busy places and public transportation but in such a large city, that was impossible. Plus the train station was in the city center so we had to go to the center of the action.
It was strange because I felt oddly incredibly safe. I’ve never seen so many officers — military, police and other — in one city. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing men in uniform carrying huge machine guns. They walked around with their fingers on the trigger.
The city was a ghost town.
In a city where there often isn’t room to stand in a subway car, we were riding subways alone. In a city where you have to wait at almost every restaurant at lunch time, we were seated immediately. In a city where you can’t get a picture of the tourist attractions without people in your way, we got clear photos with ease. It was eerie.
It’s like there was a cloud over the city. We walked by the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph and Louvre and I expected there to still be tourists there, enjoying their trip to Paris no matter what. But even the attractions on a Saturday afternoon were nearly empty.
The few who were there seemed to be solemn and respectful and even weepy. As the day continued on, however, Paris got back into its rhythm.
By the evening, the Champs Elyseé was bustling with people in their finest clothes, drinking wine and buying their luxury items and taking photos. I almost forgot what had happened earlier.
If I didn’t see the militia, I might have completely forgotten. I was happy to get out of there. Even when I got back to my town about 3 hours and 30 minutes west, it seemed that there was still a cloud over the country, a bit. Everyone seemed tired.

ABBY LISTERMAN

Listerman is the cousin of The Knight’s Business and Ad Manager Ellise Chase, and she is a junior at the University of Cincinnati.