Brenda with SMU-in-Paris

Brenda is a junior majoring in journalism and French who is studying with SMU-in-Paris this fall.

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We adapt – or get left behind

There’s an old saying that goes something along these lines: “Too often we don’t realize what we had until it’s gone.” So true…or so I’ve come to realize since I’ve been here.

Now, I don’t want to give off the wrong impression, because I am having the time of my life here in Paris. I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to study here for four months and to be able to see everything that I have seen. But there are a few things about living here that I have not gotten used to (and I’m not sure that I ever will).

1. Nothing is open on Sunday. And I mean, absolutely nothing (sometimes Monday, as well … )
Going to the supermarket for the week’s groceries, going shopping (any kind of shopping) are necessities that I mistakenly took for granted back home. It is almost impossible to find an open market on Sunday. It is a sort of “dead” day.

2. Technology seems 5 years behind.
This is a sore subject for me. I have had some serious issues with the level of technology that I have encountered not only in France, but in Reid Hall (where we take class). The SMU student room has four computers, one of which will not even turn on (for the 22 students in the program). The computers are ancient and run the strangest operating system I have ever encountered, called Ubunto. The printer does not even print in color, and each copy from the SMU copy machine is 25 centimes, or 35 American cents (!!!!). I had an art history midterm on Monday, for which I prepared 60 paintings to print out to put on notecards, and if it wasn’t for my family’s printer, I would not have been able to study the way I wanted to. The computers in the student room lose the internet from time to time and will freeze up a document in the middle of working on it.

3. The metro closes at 12:30 am on the weekdays and 1:30 am on the weekend.
Don’t read into that statement too much; I don’t think I can adequately explain how easy and (sometimes) efficient public transportation is, but I feel like I am back in high school with a curfew. There are three options for getting home on the weekends: 1) leave before 1 to catch the last metro back home, 2) stay out until the metro reopens at 5:30 am, or 3) take a taxi, which can cost anywhere between 10 to 20 Euros ($14 to $28). So far I have managed to make it home when the metro closes, but I don’t feel like I have REALLY experienced Parisian nightlife.

Contrary to what it may sound like, this post wasn’t created so that I could complain or vent about the few frustrations I have encountered while living here, but to make light of some of the most noticeable differences between the US and France. The two countries seem so far apart, and not just distance wise. Life is different here, and that’s OK, because change is good, but it takes a while to get used to change, and some change I would rather not encounter. The amenities that we are given here in Paris (and that we are paying for in our tuition) do not even compare to what we have access to in Dallas. Granted, this is Paris, we don’t have a huge campus with WIFI everywhere, but there are necessities for school and our studies that we just don’t have access to, and that makes it even harder to get acclimated to our classes.

Every day I experience something different than I would back home, and I am enjoying it. Human interaction is different, as I have come to learn the hard way on the Metro. It’s a good change of pace, and I am going to make the most of it.

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