Anytime I told someone that this trip to France would be my first time in Europe, people were surprised. Is it that surprising? For the general population, probably not. But maybe because the New York population itself is more international, and those I interact with are more traveled and more privileged, so a trip to Europe for the first time at my age is surprising.
But there’s also something about architecture and architectural education that prioritizes learning from history (especially Western history), which makes a trip around Europe to see classic examples of “good” architecture almost a prerequisite. This means that every architect I know (and almost every one of my friends) has been to Europe—often as part of an architecture school study abroad program. I never did study abroad during undergraduate studies, because I just wanted to graduate and move on. And in graduate school, I got sent to Mumbai and Beijing (two cities of burgeoning architectural scenes with some pretty fascinating urban issues) to host workshops—and India and China are two of the few countries I had been to before. But somehow, until arriving in Paris this afternoon, I had never set foot in Europe, not even for a layover!
So yeah. Now I’m in Europe, here for my grand tour … of France anyhow. I’ll deal with the rest of the continent later.