The desire to study abroad was something I expressed since first starting college, but the reality of my experience is still surreal. I had wanted to study in Paris ever since my first trip there in 2013 and it finally came to fruition this past summer. I had always known that I didn’t want to spend an entire semester away from my university, and since I have been taking French since middle school, I knew I wanted the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the language and culture of France. IES Abroad Paris Summer was the perfect opportunity for me to immerse myself in a new city and dive headfirst into a native French environment and it was, by far, one of the best experiences of my college career.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in Paris at the end of May—what my host family would be like, who I’d meet, what I’d discover about the city—but I had a wonderful experience. IES Abroad took care of everything and the staff was friendly and approachable, as well as willing to lend a helping hand to any cultural acclimation, health, or well-being issues we might have had during the duration of the program. In terms of academics, the professors were great. I learned a lot from inside the classroom, but I learned even more from the course-related excursions I attended, which allowed me to see more areas and neighborhoods of the city than I would have seen on my own. My French language and comprehension skills were challenged daily, as I communicated with my host family, my professors, and the people in shops and restaurants. I expanded my vocabulary and grasp of the French language in a way that I could not have done sitting in a classroom in the United States, far from native French speakers. I was able to view firsthand how life operates in a major European city, and how different the culture is in France versus the United States. I walked along ancient streets every day, lost myself in the history of the city, ate all the baguettes my heart desired, and met some people who made my experience as amazing as it was. I came to Paris not knowing a single soul beforehand, but I left with the memories of meeting amazing new friends and a wonderful family.