Monday, September 30, 2013

Delaney R. - Paris, France - Fall 2013

Bonjour!!! The first time I was ever in France was for my 13th birthday almost eight years ago. Since then I always knew that I wanted to come back to Paris. I loved the city, the people, the language, and the food. So it wasn't a hard choice for me to come to Paris for a semester. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience that I have had. The first thing about traveling abroad that has been a pleasant surprise was the housing. I applied for a studio apartment because I absolutely didn't feel comfortable with a host family. But a week before I left I found out I was placed with a family in the 17 arrondissement (district). I was extremely disappointed, and was panicking over this little detail. Now that I have been in Paris for 25 days, being with a host family is definitely one of the best things about studying abroad. My host parents help me with my french every day, they are amazing cooks, and they have made my stay in Paris extremely comfortable. The second thing about Paris that I love is the Metro. In Chicago we have the Metra and it's unreliable and runs every one to two hours. The Metro is amazing, it comes every two minutes and can take me anywhere in Paris. It's the best mode of transportation and it's really inexpensive. It's only been 25 days but Paris has shown me a lot already, the culture speaks for itself and influences every moment of Parisian life. Although the food portions are small and expensive, France has some of the best quality food that I have ever eaten. Every day I see a new and beautiful dessert in a shop window. The beautiful macaroons, tarts, eclairs, pain au chocolate, and other goodies are always perfectly made and look like little pieces of art. Paris is a beautiful city with so much to offer, I can see almost any sight in Paris with a 20 minute metro ride. And there is always something new to see, and something new to explore.
My classes at IES are amazing. There are two school centers that are about a 30 minute metro ride away from my house. I have class four days a week, and I'm taking five classes. The course load isn't too much, and we do  a lot of out of class field trips. So I'm seeing and learning about the city in and out of class. Every corner of Paris is filled with history, I'm still amazed at all of the famous and important historical events that happened here.
It's important to note that studying abroad is also an emotionally challenging experience. I didn't think I was going to hit the "homesickness wall" but I did. Around day 20 it hit me that I wasn't going to see anyone that I really knew for almost 80 days. I realized that I wasn't going to eat the food I was used to for 80 more days, and I found myself getting annoyed at my new lifestyle. Even in all the fun and excitement, I find myself missing things and people from home. It's been five days since I hit the wall, and it's still taking me a lot of time to get over it. I realized that I'm always going to be a little homesick, so I might as well make the most of this, knowing that in around 75 more days I will be home in Chicago. Studying abroad can often be scary, stressful, emotionally draining, and sometimes lonely. But although difficult, I can already tell that this experience will broaden my horizons and make me a different and better person. I'm already meeting new people, trying new things, and thinking differently. I am so lucky to be here, and I'm going to make every minute of my time in Paris, France count.


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