I arrived in Paris on Thursday, November 12th. I spent my Friday looking for Mona Lisa at the Louvre, enjoying hot chocolate with friends and taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower. My friends and I arrived back to our hotel room at around 9:30 p.m. from dinner. I was on the phone, wishing a happy 18th birthday to my cousin, when we heard of a shooting. I hung up the phone, without telling my family about the potential attack. I didn’t think anything of it. Shootings happen. Little did I know, it wasn’t an isolated shooting.
I spent the following 48 hours inside of a hotel room, texting loved ones and many others who had reached out to make sure I was okay. When I first called my parents, they were at work and hadn’t even heard of the incidents.
Luckily, our hotel was about 2 miles away from the attacks and we felt somewhat safe inside. I spent most of my time updating my news apps over and over again, watching the death toll rise. I didn’t really know what to think. I had really never been in a situation like this before. I was only 6 during the 9/11 attacks, and living in Chicago, I felt pretty removed from the entire situation.
When I finally left for the airport on Sunday morning, the streets were still quiet. People still seemed somewhat reluctant to venture through the city, because no one knew if the attacks were over or not. As my cab drove past the sites that had been so lively and happy two days prior, I could see that they now were pretty much empty.
Being able to see this type of hatred and violence first hand is something that I have never before experienced. I really didn’t know how to react. The attacks that happened in Paris are not an isolated incident. While I felt unsafe for a mere 48 hours, there are people all over the world who live constantly in fear.
The experience that I had in Paris made me take a step back and realize that I should never take my safety for granted. My thoughts and prayers are with not only Paris, but with people around the world who are forced to wake up each morning fearing for their lives.
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