You might leave your hometown, but your hometown will never leave you. After your parents and close friends, it's the next biggest factor in what makes you, well, you. It's a backpack you can never take off. When you take out its contents—memories, experiences, smells, sounds, tastes—they make you happy or proud, sad or nostalgic. It can help you understand and navigate the wider world. Sometimes you want to show it off, other times you want tear it off. But whether you like it or not, you're stuck with it.

This much, at least, is true for most people. But in life, like poker, we're all dealt certain starting cards and we have to play them the best we can. Some of us peel the corners up to see a 2 and 7, others revel in possession of two aces. If you're born in Paris, like the eight young women interviewed below, you're a lot closer to the latter than the former.

Photographer Felipe Barbosa's latest project centers around this same theme, the hometown. In the Parisian suburb of Montreuil, he photographed and interviewed eight women between the ages of 16 and 18. He asked them questions like, "What is it like to be young and free in Paris?" and "What do you want to do in the future?." The answers, at least if you're not 18 and living in Paris one presumes, are more optimistic than you might expect.

Flora, 17 (Pictured Right)

What is the best thing about being young in Paris right now?

I think our generation is a lot more open-minded. Our parents and grandparents fought for freedom and equality, and because of that, I really think my generation is awake, aware and motivated to do good in the world. Parisian culture is full of different shapes and characters. Parisian culture is about freedom and fun — it's a perpetual quest for new and fresh waves.

How would you describe your style?

My style is that I don't have style. I just dress in various clothes that I think translate my current state of mind without any restrictions. It's all about having no limits, no shame and, above all, feeling comfortable.

What is the biggest challenge for young people today?

The biggest challenge for youth today is to stand out and be oneself while still bringing something new and useful. It's all about hard work and originality.

What’s your favorite place in Paris?

My favorite place in Paris is "La Place de la République." It's the place of liberty, expression and youth. The ambient sound is one of talk, laughter and screeching skate wheels. It's a good atmosphere.

Laura, 16

What’s the best thing about being young right now?

We’re influenced by our parents’ years and all the genius of the years before, and yet, at the same time we benefit from the vast improvements in technology and social media, which helps us to show off our personalities and what we do. The public's perception has also changed a lot and I feel like in France you can express yourself and your creativity freely.

I’m quite proud to be French and to consider myself a Parisian, because we are the country of the avant-garde and that’s something that I think other countries probably envy.

How do the Parisian suburbs differ from the city?

Central Paris comes alive at nighttime, but the suburbs are quite calm after dark. If you want to have a great time you have to go to someone’s house. There’s not a lot of cool bars, at least not in my suburb.

How would you describe your style?

I want to say '70s style, but I don’t think a have a proper style as such. It depends on my mood, but for me the most important thing is being comfy.

What is the biggest challenge for young people today?

Not being pretentious lol. No, honestly, I’m super confident about the future of my generation. It’s a generation that dares.

Mina, 18

What makes Paris special?

It's definitely the suburbs. They're like villages; everyone knows each other. It's a completely different atmosphere and mentality to the inner city.

What are your plans for the future?

To leave France.

Anouk, 17

What are your plans for the future?

Currently, I'm in a preparatory art class and I really want to remain in this kind of study. I want to enter a school of art, in Paris or maybe abroad, to become a graphic designer. And, of course, I plan to travel as much as I can and perhaps even live abroad. I love Paris, but I don't know if I want to stay here all my life. The world belongs to us though, right?

What is your favorite place in Paris?

I don't have one favorite place, but I prefer the east side (the 19th, 10th, 11th, and 20th suburbs). This is where I live and where I grew up, and I think the social diversity is amazing. Plus all the bars and so on. You don't get bored there.

What makes Paris special?

Here people aren't scared of anything. They're open minded, they just want to have fun and enjoy life.

Liv, 18

What's the best thing about being young right now?

Probably the fact that the generations before us paved the way, even though we still have a lot of things to achieve. We are no longer defined by how we appear but what we have within us, it has never been more important to be ourselves. We have the ability to stand out, we have so many options. We're also comfortable with making mistakes and learning from them.

How would you describe your style?

I don't feel like I have a particular style. It depends on the day. Sometimes my feelings are reflected in the clothes I wear. I don't really own eccentric clothes like the ones I'm wearing in the photo, my style is more classic than that.

What's your favorite piece of clothing that you own?

It's an outfit actually, one I inherited from my mom. It's a top and a skirt specially made for her when she was in her 20s. I rarely wear it because it's silk but when I have it on I feel special, extraordinary even.

What's your favorite place in Paris?

The north and north-west of Paris and the suburbs for sure. I'm there 90 percent of the time. I feel like there's a lot of things going on there, it's very mixed and charming, I feel like there's plenty of life there.

Inès, 18

What makes Paris special?

I think Paris is special because it's a young and old city at the same time. You can find everything — there are neighborhoods for everything. To go out, to walk around, and so on. It is also a very cultural city and it is good to live here.

What are your plans for the future?

Later I would like to work in journalism—in the print media—in sections like art, lifestyle or cinema.

What's your favorite place in Paris?

I have a lot of favorite places in Paris and I often go out in the same neighborhoods (east/north) but I think if I had to choose a place it would be the Republic district, there are a lot of cafes and things to do.

Alma, 18

What is the best thing about being young right now?

The best thing about being young right now is that you have so many ways to express your creativity and your talent. Thanks to social media, you have the possibility to share your art, your look, your music, or just your ideas and make it accessible for everyone. The creativity is everywhere and I think that it is super inspiring. Everything is possible for us young people today.

How do the Parisian suburbs differ from the city?

Central Paris is often referred to as a “museum city.” Sometimes it's like it has been frozen in time: old but fancy buildings, cafes you thought only existed in old French movies, crowded metro trains. A tourist that goes to Paris for the first time is enchanted.

However, a few steps away, across the “périphérique” (the circular highway around Paris), there are the suburbs. There are two types of suburbs: the east, which is densely populated and relatively poor; and the west, which is rich and not particularly interesting. The east is so dynamic, so much more urban than elsewhere in Paris. It's becoming more and more attractive for young people, with original events or festivals, and the rents are so much cheaper so it’s very enticing for students.

What makes Paris special?

The atmosphere. But it's difficult to describe. It must be lived in order to be understood. During a single Parisian night, everything is possible. It’s an unstable environment, but an exciting one nonetheless.

Tama, 18

What do you do and where do you live?

I'm an Applied Arts student and I live in Parisian suburb 93.

What's the best thing about being young right now

To be able to put everything back until tomorrow.

How would you describe your style?

Simple and effective.

What's your favorite piece of clothing that you own?

A long black skirt with a slit on the right side of the calf to the ankle, it lengthens the legs — I love it.

What makes Paris special?

The beauty of this city at night, with its tall Haussmanian buildings and its lights. Paris at night is magical and so poetic. My favorite place is between the four towers of the French National Library.

What are your plans for the future?

Do what I love and be paid to do it.

Next up; here's what it's really like to Instagram famous.

What To Read Next