I am in France and sometimes (well most of the time) I just can’t believe it!! I flew into Paris over a week ago and spent the first four days in a small town north of the city, called Compiegne. It is beautiful and quaint city that is relaxing enough to become oriented with the French life, culture and language.

There are about 20 students from SMU living and studying in Paris this semester. We all got to know one another well during our time in Compiegne and we have only grown closer as a group and as friends in our time here in Paris. It has been such a blessing to find some amazing people on this trip.

Each day in Compiegne, we would spend the mornings in French lessons and the afternoons seeing French Chateau’s, ruins and castles, and then we came to PARIS!!!

Each student is living with a different French family somewhere in the city. I am living with a family in the east of Paris, around the 20th section in an area called Montreuil. The father is a journalist and the mom is a social worker who works particularly with autistic children. They have three kids ranging from ages 15 to 22.

My family has hosted students for over seven years, they said, so to them having a foreign student around is normal. But I am still learning their habits and their ways! Meals have been interesting – I have definitely seen some new foods. The father requires that I speak French at meals, even though he speaks English well. So it has been challenging, but as you can imagine, my French vocabulary and confidence are growing!

We just finished our first week of classes, which we take at a school called Reid Hall in the Latin Quarter, so we are constantly surrounded by a lot of students from other Paris schools. Reid Hall is actually home to a few other American schools such as Columbia, Vassar and Dartmouth, so it’s been great getting to know students from those schools as well. As you can imagine, Reid Hall is in a beautiful part of the city, which makes studying in the courtyard more of a pastime than homework.

So far, we have spent afternoons leisurely walking around the Louvre Museum, drinking wine in the park under the Eiffel Tower, jogging in the Luxembourg Gardens, eating crepes in front of Notre Dame, spending mornings in the Pompidou Museum, taking hot air balloon rides over the city, riding bikes up the Champs-Elysee, painting in the gardens looking out at the Seine and exploring the amazing areas of Paris. and that’s just a normal weekday!!

It’s a beautiful city and now I can see why so many of you all love it! The trees, the cafes, and the people – they all tell a story and it’s amazing to sit and watch it all unfold.

I look forward to the months to come and all the opportunities, travel, friendships and memories that it will bring!