“Pleasure without Champagne is purely artificial” – Oscar Wilde
I sat intently listening the entire class. After, introductions and details about the program, the Professor told us the experiences we would undertake for the next ten months here in Paris. Things like… working large events at the George V Hotel (The Four Seasons) alongside some of the top Sommeliers of the World. Holy cow! Or… participating as a guest at multi-course food and wine paired dinners. Seriously?! Or… staying on a vineyard in Bordeaux for four weeks, and making wine. All of this, as well as the fact that we would be traveling together to the regions of Champagne, Cognac, Bordeaux, Rhone and Alsace. My mouth dropped in disbelief listening to this. As did everyone else’s- none of this had been advertised during initial enrollment. In true mesmerized fashion, I was stunned when all of the sudden bottles of Louis Roederer Champagne were brought into the classroom on ice. It was then announced we would be concluding the orientation day with a glass of Champagne to kick off our year of adventure! This felt like a vacation, but ironically it was my first day of school. I had never experienced a first day of school being so exciting.
Was it just because I was attending school in France?
I graciously took my glass of champagne and held my glass up in the air. Santé, and a clink of glasses transpired through the room. I spoke with several other people from the class during our champagne sipping. Sebastian was a prime and proper gay man from Hong Kong who had an elusive sense of fashion and sported a navy cape. He had dreams of getting into the import and export business in Hong Kong of French wine. He and I bonded immediately over our love of food and wine and started to talk about restaurants we wanted to check out in Paris. Pearl was from the states like Sarah and me, and she had visions of working for a famous marketing house such as LVMH. We bonded over the blogging world as she also wrote a blog and loved to cook. Sarah and I spoke more about the loveliness of living on the left bank of the Seine River, and how we adored our flats and neighborhoods. I also met others from India, China, Venezuela and natives to France as well. Most of my classmates spoke a minimum of two languages and I felt immensely proud to be on this journey with such cultured individuals coming from all over the world. We all shared a passion for wine. And more than that, everyone was truly ecstatic to be living in Paris.
I instantly felt like I had found my long lost tribe. Visions of dining in Parisian restaurants with other food and wine lovers crossed my mind. I had not only moved to Paris, but I was going to be surrounded by people that shared my same passions. It was riveting. As the champagne glasses were dwindling and we could feel the school administration cleaning up the napkins and rinsing glasses- we all decided to carry on this cocktail hour at a roof top bar in a near hotel. This was too thrilling and no one wanted this to end. It is a very addicting feeling when you instantaneously feel connected with strangers in a foreign land.
Maybe I would never feel emptiness in Paris. Maybe I would instantly be immersed with fellow partners in crime and have a packed social calendar. I had not expected for my orientation day to go so flawlessly.