At the risk of sounding very cliche, studying abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Granted, it’s a requirement for my major, International Relations. However, I’d always go back and forth trying to decide which city, which semester, and which program I would pick. Longing for a new adventure and a change of pace, I applied for a summer program slightly on a whim, sending in my application at the last minute. Since I have experience speaking French, I decided that Paris would be the perfect fit. Throughout my trip, I was able to meet new friends, solidify my French, and learn so much more about French culture.
Living in a big city abroad is not always easy, as some aspects of my daily life were made a little more difficult. However, I really enjoyed adapting to a different lifestyle and learning how to navigate city life, even if I learned the hard way by embarrassing myself a few times. So, here’s a typical day in my life studying in Paris!
9:00 am: Thankfully my classes were only in the afternoon, so I had the whole morning to myself. I woke up and ate the breakfast provided by my host mom, which was always a croissant and coffee.
10:30am: To get to school I’d commute on the metro, the Paris subway, which took up to 40 minutes. Once I got near the school, I decided to camp out at a cafe to get some work done. I ~tried~ to work on my paper, but I got very easily distracted by people watching on Rue Daguerre, one of the most famous street markets in the city. However, I managed to focus long enough to finish my paper about immigration in France and headed to class.
12:15pm: My first class of the day was “History of Paris” which was taught by hands-down the most hilarious professor I’ve ever had. He didn’t speak English but could easily impersonate our American accents.
1:45pm: In between classes, we’d normally head over to the ‘boulangerie’ across the street for lunch. They always had the best sandwiches and fresh pastries waiting for us, so we were basically best friends with the employees after a few weeks.
2:00pm: Our second class of the day was “French Grammar” which was sometimes really tough to get through, especially with no AC. However, this class really helped me hone in my skills and help ease the little difficulties that came with daily life.
3:30pm: After class, me and a couple friends decided to go tour the Rodin Museum. We got into all museums for free with our student ID, so we definitely took advantage of that.
6:30pm: After the museum, we were able to enjoy some aperitifs and watch a World Cup game. The best part about being in Paris during the World Cup was that there was always a group of die hard fans watching the game, no matter which country was playing. This time we rooted with a group of Argentinians.
9:00pm: My favorite part about Paris was definitely the late night picnics along the Seine River. Since Paris is not exactly college student friendly when it comes to cost, all of the younger people would buy their own food and drinks from some corner convenience store and then hang out along the Seine. So that’s exactly what we did almost every night. We spent hours talking and listening to music while waving at the tourist boats that rode through. We’d always meet some pretty interesting characters along the Seine.
12:00 am: To end the night, we decided to walk over to the Louvre. The Louvre at night is another sight in itself. Without all the crowds, it was fun to imagine what it must have been like to live in the Palace in its prime. Since the metros close at 12:30am, we decide to call it a night.
All in all, my time in Paris was unforgettable. It had been years since I spoke French, so finally being able to practice with locals was so valuable, although intimidating at first. I landed in Paris not knowing the family I’d be living with or any of the other students in the program. However, by the end of trip, I had made lifelong friends. My time in Paris helped me build my confidence and independence, which I will forever cherish. I definitely advise anyone to study abroad. Especially at UT, where advisers are extremely helpful in finding the perfect program for you.
Madeline (PC ‘17)