A Year Later – Reflections on ParisParis BIA, Fall 2010
As I wake up and proceed to pour milk into my cereal, I cannot help but think back to the breakfast, or petit déjeuner, I enjoyed every morning during my semester in Paris. Instead of chomping on some stale cereal, my mornings would begin with a warm croissant or delectable fruit-filled pastry. The differences of my Parisian lifestyle do not end with breakfast. Instead of metro rides filled with ambient accordion sounds and dazzling views of the Eiffel Tower, my journey to school consists of a five-minute walk through my college campus. Where I used to have culturally eye opening, four hour-long dinners, I have a quick sandwich while studying for my next exam. Needless to say, adjusting to life after Paris was somewhat challenging, and to this day I battle heavy bouts of nostalgia brought on by a French song on my ipod or the smell of freshly baked bread.
Before going to Paris, I had focused mostly on clothes I needed to buy or paperwork I needed to complete and barely paused to think about the relationships I might form during the semester. While the food was truly amazing and city’s beauty intoxicating, I found the best part of my experience to be the memories I made with the amazing people I met in my program. The friendships I made during my time in Paris made the experience was it was: one of the best experiences of my life. As I met people from across the country and spent time with them exploring the beautiful City of Light, I allowed myself to really enjoy and take in the city. Whether it was commiserating about the strikes or sharing a baguette and Camembert together, I felt a level of closeness with the people I had known for two weeks that I felt with people I had known for several months or years. To this day I remain quite close with several of the friends I made abroad, and am confident that these friendships will continue to thrive well into the future.
Another thing I took from my experience in Paris is the importance of being aware of other cultures. Before going to Paris, my vision was narrowed in on the United States. I focused mostly on American cultures and American politics. After having lived in a different city, however, my scope has widened to other cultures. I feel more like an informed citizen of the world rather than a naïve citizen of the United States.
Although being away from home in a foreign country was challenging at times, it was a truly rewarding experience. I not only learned a lot about a country, a culture, and a foreign language, but I learned a lot about myself, and the importance of friendship.
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