Gina Dunn, an alumna of our Corporate and Organizational Communication program, is a marketing and communication professional helping organizations connect with their target audience via strategy development and implementation. Gina lives in Paris, and has just published her first book Paris Possibilities. In this post, Gina reflects on her life journey and how the book came to be. As she notes, “If you’re looking for a book to empower a friend, student, or anyone who is on the fence about taking their first trip to Paris, this is the book for them. Or maybe even you.”

Deciding on a Trip to Paris

It was the winter of 2012, and I decided to take a trip to Paris with friends. Initially, everyone was on board, but they looked less likely to go as we got closer to buying tickets and making hotel reservations. At first, I thought, “Well, I guess there goes that idea.” Then I remembered moving to Boston to attend Northeastern University. It was a city I had never visited before my freshman orientation. Nor did I know a single person in MA. Had I waited for others, I may have stayed in Florida. So, I realized I had to go to Paris even if alone.

Paris Possibilities: Stop doubting. Start believing. And take your Paris vacation.Preparing for a Solo Trip

However, that sense of security when traveling in a group was gone. I was left to figure out a solo trip to a place where I knew no one and barely any of the language. There were so many questions. Could I afford it? Are the French rude? Of course, I wondered, is Paris safe? Safe for a solo traveler? A female solo traveler? A black female solo traveler? I stopped short of googling all the above, including named Gina Dunn.

The Trip of a Lifetime

I landed after a rain shower, followed by a sunny day. The city glittered for a full three days after that. A Boston friend connected me to a friend’s French cousin who lived there. For me, a complete stranger, she hosted a dinner. Definitely not rude.

I didn’t want to leave and vowed to come back every year for the rest of my life. (Dramatic but true.) And upon returning to Boston, I immediately started looking for jobs at the American Embassy in Paris.

The Fear of the Unknown

But one thing that stuck with me was how afraid I was. I just wanted someone who looked like me to say, “Oh, you’ll be fine.” But, as I recounted on this blog a couple of year ago, Paris felt like any other major city. Everyone going about their business.

Eventually, I moved to Paris. However, between my first trip and the time I wrote “Paris Possibilities,” I received many questions and opinions about Paris. “Don’t you have to be rich to go to Paris?” “Aren’t the French rude?” Some even think that the French only pretend not to speak English. But all these ideas were far from the truth. And I needed would be Paris visitors to know it.

Empowering Others

After living in France for 6 years, I figured I had enough experience to turn what started as a blog post during a MA program into a book. A book that would empower others who want to know if it’s possible for someone like them to safely take a trip to Paris and enjoy themselves. To be a cultural translator, if you will. Paris Possibilities is a book for those who fear a trip of a lifetime is out of reach. Because, like celebrities or luxury influencers, Paris might just, in fact, be possible for them too. After reading Paris Possibilities, they’ll hear about my experiences and practical information on getting to Paris, budget, safety, shopping, style, cultural differences, and possibly moving to Paris.

Click here to learn more about Gina’s book.

Posted by Gina Dunn, CPS’15