Meleah in Paris

Meleah, a senior markets and culture major, with a psychology minor in Dedman College, is spending Summer 2009 in France with SMU-in-Paris. She will be taking history courses and is looking forward to exploring Europe on the weekends, before graduating from SMU in August.

What I learned in Paris

I decided to write one last blog for my last week here because I want to share what I have learned during the five weeks here:

Sometimes I take things for granted in the States, and other times my ignorance leads me not to understand many things about the world. Since this journey I now have a greater appreciation for the English language, air conditioning and American food.

I also am able to understand why there are stereotypes between Americans and the French people. Learning about French history while living in France helped me understand why the French are the way they are.

In addition this trip has made me reflect on the American culture and analyze why I do the things I have taken for granted.

Now, I urge all of the readers of this blog to explore, learn, and be critical of your own culture because without these things you cannot understand yourself.

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Last weekend in Paris

We took a class trip to Versailles on Wednesday. It was so beautiful!

After our class session, we rented bikes and biked around the pond, which was massive. I had not ridden a bike in years, and I felt like a kid again.

Also, I am really excited for this weekend. My friends and I are going to Euro Disney and shopping. There are student prices for Euro Disney, and we are going to stay all day on Friday. Also, the big sales are this week, so we are going to find every cheap place in Paris. That sounds like tons of fun, but we also have to prepare for our finals next week!

I can’t believe we are almost done with our trip! I do miss the States, especially when I hear Europeans reciting U.S. history, but I am truly enjoying it here.

My friends and I were just talking about how we are going to go through almost culture shock going back to the States. We have been so used to taking public transportation everywhere that we might feel awkward in cars by ourselves. Also, we won’t see flower shops on every corner, or a pastry shop either. And I can’t imagine what 100 degrees feels like, since the highest it has been is 80; however, we don’t have air conditioning so it would be unbearable otherwise.

I have to go so I can make my last weekend here a memorable one!

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From Paris to London

london.jpg This past weekend a few of my friends and I traveled to London via a two-hour train. We had a great time.

texas%20embassy.jpg When we first arrived, we could not turn off our Parisian ways and the British probably thought we had some problems. We kept saying “bonjour” and “merci,” and it didn’t help that we only had 2 hours of sleep the night before!

After our delicious English breakfast, we took a bus tour of the entire city. A few highlights from the weekend were eating dinner at the Texas Embassy, which I don’t recommend. They took forever because of “problems in the kitchen,” which we had to find out after waiting for our food and harassing another waiter.

We also went to the changing of the guards and the Royal Ballet. Our last stop before coming back was to Platform 9 3/4 (Harry Potter, anyone?).

london%202.jpg I enjoyed London, but I had to get used to looking the opposite direction before crossing the street. Luckily there were signs on the ground to remind me at intersections!

I am so glad that we took our little weekend trip. And our study abroad trip is a little more than halfway done!

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Touring the City of Lights

meleah-Arc-du-Triomphe-sm.jpg meleah-foutainebleau-sm.jpg Yesterday some of my friends and I took an open-air tour bus ride of this wonderful city. We were able to see some things that we probably would not have a chance to visit otherwise. (Photo right: At the Arc de Triomphe; photo left: Fountainebleau)

During our tour we took a lunch break at the Louvre. We did not get to see any of the art, but the outside is fascinating. Our class is going to take a few classes there, so I will be able to see more of it later.

After our tour we went to the four-story Haagen Daz store for dessert. Later on we had dinner at this delicious Italian restaurant.

Two things I love about Paris at night are:

1. It does not get dark until after 10 and
2. Although most places do not have air conditioning, it is not necessary. It gets pretty cool at night … and it is not that hot during the day!

Paris at night is beautiful and there are so many people out. However, there are “quiet hours” after 10pm for the city. The French, in general, are quiet people. Even through the day it is quiet. I don’t mind following their noise rules, but some of my fellow Americans are having a hard time adjusting … hopefully they can get the hang of it before we leave.

Anyway, this weekend has been eventful and I am eternally grateful for having three-day weekends, so we can have time to explore and do our homework … which I should start now!

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Beautiful Paris

While studying in Paris, I have learned that beauty knows no language. I definitely do not know French, but I am enamored with this city, which is even beautiful when it is cold and raining!

meleah-chateau-chambord-sm.jpg meleah-chenonceau-sm.jpg
During our first weekend in France, we left this gorgeous city and took a tour of the chateaus in the Loire Valley. None of the pictures can truly show the magnificent grandeur of these buildings. Every building in Paris seems to have the same breathtaking effect. (Photo left: Chateau Chambord; photo right: Chateau Chenonceau)

meleah-Mosque-of-Paris-sm.jpg As a class we went to Notre Dame and the Mosque of Paris, which are indescribable buildings. Lining the streets there are apartments and shops like in New York City; however, these are not modern buildings nor are they dilapidated (which seems to be the two options I have found in the States). (Photo right: Mosque of Paris; photo below: Notre Dame.)

meleah-Notre-Dame-sm.jpg It is an amazing experience just to look at the meticulous detail and thought that was put into every structure. Also, it is mind-blowing for me to think of how ancient, but preserved these buildings are. Oh, if these buildings could talk!

Parisians have made their city even more beautiful by adding flower shops on almost every street corner, and there is also likely to be a pastry shop nearby. I don’t think all of the walking we do can possibly burn off all of the chocolate croissants I have eaten!

As you can tell, I am enjoying my time, but I am not in love with all of it. I strongly dislike the lack of “pooper scooper” laws. Although the streets are kept clean of trash, there is bound to be doggie remains somewhere. We all shout “pooh!” as soon as we see it to make sure our fellow classmates do not step in it.

Also, personal space does not exist. I have gotten used to the small elevators and the confined subway cars, but I still feel uncomfortable with public bathrooms. Many times in restaurants there is a stall for women and and a stall for men, but in most places men and women share a sink area … a little awkward, especially when there is a guy from class washing his hands at the same time and we feel obligated to strike up a random conversation. Not to mention, the toilettes are usually located in the basement, which can only be reached by a narrow spiral staircase.

I hope you enjoy the photos!

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