It is January 8th, 2016, and what better way to start off the new year than by traveling to Paris, France? For years, it had been my dream to live in the City of Lights, and it is because of IES Abroad that that dream became a reality. By enrolling in their French Studies Program, I was given one hundred and fifteen days to explore and experience France. Every day in the country was an adventure. I would start each morning by eating a traditional French breakfast with my host mother. In between bites of bread and cheese, we would talk about everything under the sun, from fashion to French politics, from traveling to television. Afterwards, I would hop on the Metro to go to the IES Center, where I usually had two or three classes a day. The IES Abroad staff and faculty really took it upon themselves to provide students with an authentic French educational experience. Not only were classes taught exclusively in French, but they were also structured to mirror the typical French classroom. Staff and faculty members were genuinely concerned with student learning, and they encouraged students to not only practice speaking French but also immerse themselves in the city. During my four months abroad, I went on several IES Abroad-sponsored field trips. We visited many places in Paris, including the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louis Vuitton Foundation, the Montparnasse Tower, and the Place de Vosges. We also had the opportunity to travel to other nearby towns, including Reims, Giverny, and Amboise. However, even without a field trip planned, there was always something to do in Paris once class let out. Some days I would brave the more touristy areas, such as the Louvre Museum, the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Other days I would chill at a café with friends, where we would laugh and converse over small shots of espresso. There were even times where I would take my camera, ride the Metro to some random station, and just start walking, photographing everything I saw along the way. In doing this, I got to see the real Paris, the one that cannot be seen in just a week’s visit. In just one afternoon stroll, I could find a new patisserie, stumble upon some rad street art, and learn of where to buy French fashion for cheap. The evening usually ended with me returning back home to video chat with friends back in the United States. Study abroad was life changing for me. Never before had I imagined that I would be capable of living in another country by myself. But IES Abroad really helped in ensuring that I found my home away from home. The staff and faculty were there whenever I needed a crutch, but they also encouraged me to go out, be brave, and make the city my own. Now, thanks to this experience, I have a city that I dream of going back to, a city that I miss, and a city that I can call home.