raghad sheikh-khalil

We soon learned the location of the shooting was mere metres across the street from several of our apartments. Just the week prior, many of us had come together to celebrate a birthday only a few steps away from the Bataclan theatre. The subsequent hours were spent awaiting messages of assurance from friends in the affected area.

In an effort to reinforce our patriotism, and temporarily make our way back onto Canadian soil, a friend and I decided to purchase tickets from Paris to Arras, a city just eight kilometres east of the memorial. We arrived at Arras station at around 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8 and waited for a taxi to arrive to take us to the memorial. Alas, hours later and after many calls, no taxi came.

Let me be clear—I was raised on chicken and beef kabobs. I’ve never faulted chicken for its ability to satisfy me, but prior to coming to France I never understood the French fascination with raw meats and animals that have no business out of picture books.

Considering my ideal night involves an entire bottle of wine and “Netflix and chilling” solo, I’m clearly no expert on the intricacies of wine drinking. As such, I spent my weekend touring the city of Bordeaux—renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the wine capital of the world—in an attempt to learn a bit more about what exactly goes into my glass.

In search of the migrant reality, I decided to visit a nearby Syrian refugee camp in Paris. Located just outside tourist hotspots, the camp was a stark contrast to what I’d grown accustomed to in my first month. In the middle of the road an entire community was set up. About 60 families, from children to the elderly, were centred around a camp lined with tents and laden with garbage.

The people who drive the cars are just about as fancy as the cars themselves. Everyone here is thin and beautiful. It’s almost perplexing how skinny all of inhabitants manage to stay, despite how rich the food is. I say almost because there are stairs about every 100 metres, so it’s not really that perplexing. Come to France if you want to lose weight eating strictly butter.

1 2