Where has the time gone?! I only have 2 weeks left, and I find myself still stumbling upon new places, but I guess that is the good and bad thing about Paris: There is literally an unlimited number of things to do, places to visit and fun to be had.
Even having been here for 3 going on 4 months now, I am adding new things to my “To Do/See” list as I’m checking off places I’ve been. Here is a photo tour of my past month …
Right: Panoramic Monet works at the Musee de l’orangerie.
Left: Friend from SMU-in-Madrid visits Paris.
Right: Spring Break in Barcelona!
Left: Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
I can’t believe the semester is already halfway over! It has absolutely flown by; I wish I could pause time! This past month has been full of traveling – from our winter break “road trip” and touring the Champagne region to our study trip in the south of France.
For winter break I visited Geneva, Switzerland; Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; and Prague, Czech Republic, with 7 other students in the program. We traveled by train to each city, which was a fun, easy and scenic alternative to flying. It was interesting to see the cultural diversity between each country. We came to find out each place had a different form of currency, spoke a different language and had varying cuisines.
One Friday this month I took a day trip to Epernay, France, in the Champagne region with a few other students and visited the Moet & Chandon house. We took a tour through the production process and had a champagne tasting at the end of our visit. The town of Epernay is beautiful and houses the champagne production facilities of Perrier Jouet and Veuve Clicquot along with Moet and many other world-renowned champagnes. The history behind the drink and the region was particularly interesting- who knew Dom Perignon was a monk and the inventor of champagne?
This past weekend we went on a study trip to Toulouse and Montpellier in the south of France, where we visited the Airbus plant and saw the production process of their A-380s, visited modern art museums in Toulouse, beached in Palavas and took an architectural tour though Montpellier. The traveling and study trips have been a fun way to learn about and experience first-hand French and European culture.
In photos: (top) Valentine’s Day in Budapest; (center) visiting the Moet & Chandon House; (right) at the highest point of Montpellier
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)!