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Paris Perspectives: One Week On

Photography by Miguel Ignacio

Six days on from the attacks in Paris which saw 129 people killed, France remains in a ‘state of emergency’. From holding minute silences to decorating the Place de la République with flowers and commemorations, many Parisians are still coming to terms with what happened.

Roar spoke to two students on both sides of the channel to find out how the attacks impacted them and what happens next.

Giulia is a 2nd year King’s student studying International Relations and currently doing her year abroad at Sciences-Po in Paris. When the attacks happened she was with friends in the Latin Quarter, across the river from Bataclan. 

 “We panicked. We started running to my flat. It felt as though the whole city was in danger. There were sirens, police cars and helicopters everywhere and the journey seemed endless.

I stayed up all night, watching the news come in. We were messaging and calling our friends. I was lucky because I was far away from the area under attack, but it could easily have been me.      Squeezed up in my tiny room it was one of the longest nights of my life.

The next day, Paris was very quiet, many shops and cafés were closed. Every time a siren went off, I would jump. It was very tense. However, by Sunday, people were beginning to return to the      streets.

Going back to university on Monday was a great relief, a return to normality. But even here there were problems. After the minute’s silence, someone had left their bag unattended. The whole  university was evacuated, and we were all on edge.

The response from King’s was prompt and overwhelmingly thoughtful. Professor Theo Farrell emailed me from the War Studies department on Saturday to make sure I was safe.

I am still coming to terms with what has happened. Many people have asked me but I would never leave Paris. It will take time for normality to return but it is important that we do not give into  fear. Nobody can turn off the city of lights.”

 

Apolline is a 2nd year King’s student studying Political Economy in London. She has lived in Paris all her life. When the attacks happened she was having dinner with a  French friend. 

“I started crying as I left my friend’s house. Once in my bedroom, I became hysterical. I stopped being able to move, breathe or speak properly. I had no news from my friends and family. I could only watch a monstrosity unfold in my beloved city. It was difficult because I was safe but my city was not. It felt like the whole French people were targeted.

During the night and the next day, I reached my loved ones. I went to the vigil in Trafalgar Square and was overwhelmed by the solidarity that was shown with my city. The emails from King’s showed me that the entire community was behind us. I went to mark the minute silence at Strand to show how grateful I was for this support.

I am so thankful that everyone I know is safe. But I am still grieving the losses of those that I didn’t know. It will take time for me to recover. My heart goes out to those who have been caught in the middle of this bloodbath and mess. I cannot understand how much pain they must feel, because I am in pieces.

I am so proud of how my city has reacted, showing so much courage. It is essential that Parisians don’t stop following their dreams, or they will stop living.”

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