I just passed the one-month mark of my semester in Paris!
Getting acclimated to the French lifestyle has been an experience, but much easier than I expected! Most Parisians are very welcoming and willing to help you, contrary to the typical French stereotype.
The cultural differences are subtle, but I’ve slowly picked up on things like, for example, having your hands on the table at dinner is considered polite, while having your hands in your lap is impolite. Parisians are much more conscientious about electricity and water usage, have a smaller concept of personal space and are always late.
Living here for an extended period of time is the only way to really learn these things and pick up on the subtleties of the French language and culture that can’t just be learned in a book.
Classes are more focused on the idea of engaged learning, so about half the time the courses take place in a classroom and the other half take place in different museums or monuments in Paris. My painting class often meets at the Louvre, Musee D’Orsay or Musee Rodin, while my Art and Architecture class explores 18th-century to modern-day architecture all throughout Paris by visiting and comparing different monuments and buildings.
It is such a unique experience, and I would encourage anyone who’s interested in studying abroad to not think twice and go!
In photos: Our SMU-in-Paris group in Bruxelles, Belgium, with our director Isabel (left) and in front of “La Tour Eiffel” (right)!