About a month ago I returned from a semester abroad in Paris, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. A glance at my instagram will tell you that I’m constantly revisiting the memories I made, but then again, who wouldn’t? For four months, I studied the language and culture, taking classes, and wandering around the city (usually with a notebook or a book in hand). The result? I’ve fallen deeply in love, which is not unusual. I’ve come back with a lot of thoughts on my mind, and while I want to parse them apart into separate articles, I also want to start by writing an overview about my program and my experience.
I went to Paris through IES Abroad, as part of the Paris-French Studies program. I was not enrolled at a French university, primarily because I couldn’t find any programs that would transfer my credits. Instead, I took five courses at the IES center in the city, all taught by French faculty. I also had the opportunity to enroll in one or more courses at a local university, take one or more art classes (dance, music, sketching or painting), or do an internship. In other words, the possibilities for constructing your own schedule are virtually endless, and you can tailor it to what you need and want to get out of your experience.
I took five academic classes: the required grammar class, Charlie Hebdo dans la France Contemporaine, Paris Ville-Cinéma, Les Femmes dans la la littérature française, and L’Immigration et la diversité en Paris. My favorites were the literature class and the film class, for various reasons. Look back for another blog post elaborating on the academics with IES during my spring semester!
I lived in a homestay, though students in the program had a choice between a homestay, apartment living (through IES), or independent housing (which you yourself are responsible for finding). I will always say that the best decision I made during my semester abroad was choosing a host family. I got a certain level of interaction with the language and culture that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and I also got to have a home base. I had someone to guide me through the first few weeks of not knowing how to grocery shop, bumbling through cultural quirks, etc. Through interactions with her and her host family, I became comfortable asking questions, interacting with the culture, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It helped that she was a librarian, and that the apartment was full of books that she was happy to loan me, specific to my interests.
As such, my days were spent in class, doing homework, and then wandering around the city. I think one of the best uses of my time was the time spent wandering, because it forced me into a day-today interaction with anyone and anything I came across. I’m going to stop myself here, because I want to write separate posts to reflect on things like my day to day life, my classes, my wanderings, and other thoughts and observations I had during my time in Paris. Thank you for following along and allowing me to relive, and process, the amazing four months I had abroad.