After spending my fall semester in Paris on a UD study abroad program, I definitely feel that I was able to become part of the city, rather than a tourist, which was a rewarding and fun experience. Thanks to spending three months there, I came away with a better understanding of the people, culture, and day-to-day life of the city. Below, I affirm some Parisian stereotypes, challenge others, and offer more observations from my time in Paris! (Disclaimer: I refer to Parisians specifically instead of French people because I only lived in Paris, but it is possible that these observations could be true for other parts of France as well! All of these views are also based on my own opinions.)
Stereotype: Parisians are arrogant and rude
In my experience, Parisians have been very helpful, respectful, and kind. Even when I traveled to Paris with my family four years ago, while we were walking around on the street with our luggage looking for our Airbnb, a lady stopped to ask if we needed help and gave us directions. That same trip, a man helped my sister carry her suitcase up the metro stairs. During my time studying abroad, I always had positive interactions with people. For example, an older lady in my apartment building always stopped to talk with me, and restaurant servers, museum employees, and retail workers were always polite. Continue reading
When I graduate and look back at my time at UD, I know that studying abroad will be one of the best experiences I will take away from my four years as an undergraduate. My experience offered a completely unique opportunity to not only explore a new place but also to get to know myself. Here is what I gained from studying abroad in Paris for a semester!
First and foremost, my semester abroad strengthened me as individual. Before my trip, I had to go through the extensive visa process by following all of the steps and gathering all the needed documents, so, with determination, I was able to successfully complete the process on my own. Also, although I have flown with my family before, I flew on my own for the first time going to Paris, and then three more times for my fall break in Italy and my trip back to the U.S. It was rewarding knowing I could navigate the airport process by myself instead of relying on someone else! I also learned how to get around the city on my own. Once I got to Paris, it took me a few tries, but I quickly was able to figure out the metro system and was soon jumping on and off, making transfers, and following the signs in the underground passageways without a problem (but with the help of Google Maps, which is not only useful for metro routes but also for walking directions). I also really appreciated having my own unique experience exploring the city. I enjoyed many days jumping on the metro and choosing from the enormous selection of sights to see in Paris. I also decided to write in a journal consistently while I was there, which I have never done before, so it was nice to reflect on my day-to-day experiences and record my thoughts. Continue reading
One of the advantages of studying abroad is visiting other cities and countries besides the one you’re studying in. For example, in Europe, a neighboring country is just a short plane or train ride away! So, over my fall break, I left Paris on a blissfully short flight (under two hours) to meet my parents for a week-long trip in Italy.
Our first stop was Rome, where we spent half of the week. Right away from our first day, I was surprised at how crowded the city was, especially for non-tourist season! To get to our Airbnb from the airport, we took a tram that was so packed there was barely enough room for anybody else to get on, and, later that day while sightseeing, I was surrounded by swarms of people in the streets and squares. The city definitely has a crazy, energetic, boisterous feeling to it, even at night, when you can hear shouts in the streets and scooters whizzing by! Continue reading
Studying abroad in France has been a dream of mine since I was in middle school. French has always been one of my favorite classes, and I distinctly remember the day when my friend’s sister (who had studied abroad) told me that if I could study abroad in the future, it would be the best decision I ever made. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college, and here I am in Paris, thankful and excited to be here after many more years of studying French, with my aspiration to study abroad no less radiant than back then.
The day of my flight, I was extremely excited. I took a plane overnight, landing in Paris in the morning and basically missing a whole night of sleep with the six-hour time difference. Thankfully, I stuck to my goal of staying up that whole day and only going to sleep that evening (which is the best advice for avoiding jet lag – it worked!). The day of my arrival, I was greeted by my really kind and welcoming host mom, who gave me a tour of the neighborhood and plenty of food. She even prepared a special “apéritif” before dinner to celebrate my arrival. Continue reading
Packing lightly for a month-long trip to the other side of the world can be quite a process. I am a notorious over-packer, and while I am actually quite proud of my ability to pack only the necessities for my New Zealand adventure, there was one item I was glad to have brought in abundance: sunglasses. The combination of having incredibly light-sensitive eyes and a rather impressive ability to lose or break sunglasses does not make for an ideal situation. So, before leaving the United States, I made sure to pack up the pair I was wearing with an extra two pairs in my backpack.
My sunglasses collection lasted for an entire day. Then my group decided to go to Sumner Beach for the afternoon. Continue reading