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I remember my first ever French lesson at high school vividly. I listened attentively and took special care with my usually messy notes. I wrote neatly and underlined the titles with two red lines. I smelled the brand new Tricolore text book and dreamed that one day I would study French at University and have the opportunity to live in France. Years later I was living my dream studying French at uni and I was about to choose a year abroad programme. I had dreamed of living in the South of France in a small picturesque town by the sea and doing an Erasmus (orgasmus) programme. Unfortunately economic reality struck and I had to choose a work placement instead. So dreams of palm trees and Mediterranean life were shattered and images of Paris started to appear in my mind. Admittedly, my initial feeling was disappointment but then I started getting used to the idea. It took me a few months to adapt to Parisian life. Being in a foreign country was one thing but also adapting to working and non-campus life was equally challenging. I worked in a multinational near La Defense and I rented a studio close to Place de Vosges in Le Marais. Weekends were lonely at first but that changed when I discovered the “FUSAC” magazine and I became involved in many expat social groups and French classes for foreigners after work. Soon enough I made many friends and my out of work agenda was fully booked. I was wined and dined by many older intellectual types that had targeted me in the debates that I used to go. At twenty years old, happy endings after dinner were strictly out of the question, at that age older men were just about conversation, great restaurants and generally being pampered. I used to get a lot of attention when just out and about in Paris. I used to pull almost everywhere and several times in the street I was asked if I was interested in modelling. I remember just answering “non merci” and just walking on quickly. Ironically I felt terrible about my body when I lived in Paris. I put weight on due to being sat in an office all day long and of course, excessive amounts of French bread and pain au chocolat. As all good things must come to an end, I was heartbroken when it was time to go back to university and finish the final year. I had discovered a new way of living that suited me more than anything I had lived before. I loved being foreign and having friends from all over the world, from all ages. How was I going to cope back on campus? The “Notre Dame” sound track was my Paris soundtrack and I remember listening to the song “Belle” repeatedly on my discman in the airport departure lounge as I cried like a baby. It had been so good that it hurt like hell. Sticking with the theme of nostalgia, these photos made me think of Paris and Moulin Rouge and one of the best experiences of my life so far. Enjoy! Venus O’Hara Photos featuring gloves, braces, top hat, panties.