James in Paris

James, a French and history double major, is returning to France in Spring 2009 for his second semester abroad. He is hoping to reconnect with old friends and his French family while working on his language and culture skills in preparation for graduation and a master’s degree program.

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L’investiture de Barack Obama

J2.jpgIt’s a very strange thing to have to watch the inauguration of your new President from a foreign country.

This afternoon, my friends and I gathered at this little American cafe that was showing the complete Inauguration on tv. Suffice to say, it was quite an experience.

J1.jpg The cafe was really cool – completely decked out in American stuff but not overdone so that it seemed cheesy. And we got there just in time, too, because right after we arrived the people started flooding in to see the show. We ate tons, I mean TONS of food. But hey, how often do we get somewhat authentic American food in Paris?

I have to say, though, it was pretty cool to be in France during such a historic moment. Being there, amongst all my other compatriots, really made me feel proud to be an American. As Aretha Franklin sang the national anthem, so did everyone in the room. As our new President spoke, the place fell silent.

J3.jpgThe cafe was PACKED, with people even crowding around the windows outside trying to get a glimpse of the TV screen. We clapped, we laughed, and together we were Americans. I know it sounds dorky, but it was a really cool experience. All of us in my group agreed that we were very happy we made the effort to find a place to watch the full event.

So what else has been going on lately? Well, a bit of homesickness set in last weekend. I spent all day Sunday with my friend Jeremy and his family in the suburbs. I love his family; they are so welcoming and so warm, it really makes me happy that I’ve gotten to know such an intimate part of French life. While there I saw the Simpsons for the first time in French (his little brother was watching it). Quite interesting, I should say, haha.

His mom made us a huge lunch full of sliced meats and raclettes, a type of cheese that you melt in what I can only call very small frying pans. Afterward we went shopping in this giant mall that is dedicated only to furniture.

Well, the homesickness set in because I spent the whole day speaking French and being totally 100 percent submerged in the French culture. Therefore, I really began to miss my own culture. Don’t get me wrong, I love speaking French and have always enjoyed being a part of the culture here, but it does sometimes make you miss the things that you grew up with. As you see families go about their business it makes you really yearn for your own family, your own comfortable life.

BUT, that is the whole point of being abroad: to learn how to be independent. And certainly this is not the first, nor will it be the last, time that I have felt homesick.

As far as the job/internship search goes? Well, I can’t say I have any leads but I can say that I have begun actively searching and seeking them out. Hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to devote more time to it. I’m determined to stay here for the summer doing something, so I have to get this ball rolling.

Overall though, things have been going great. I’ve been very busy hanging out with old friends, my family, and making new friends. By the end of the day I’m usually exhausted, but a good, “I’ve accomplished something today” kind of exhausted.

Courses have started and they seem to be going well. My family continues to be amazing along with my friends that I’ve made here. I’m learning what it’s really like to live in Paris instead of just studying in the city. It’s truly different, and I’m so thankful that I get the rare opportunity to explore this aspect of French life.

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