What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?
A favorite memory of mine while studying abroad was my first trip outside of Paris. My roommate and I met my friend from my home university in Dublin for my birthday. This trip was my favorite because not only was it my birthday weekend, but we had been in Paris for a month and were honestly excited to be in a new country for a couple days. Immediately when we arrived to our hostel we rented bikes and rode an hour up the coast to a small fishing village called Howth. This was one of the best cities we visited because there were no tourists (except us) and found an authentic Irish pub from the 16th century. It was very crowded, but the staff was very welcoming. Some of the locals came up to talk to us told us to stay for the Welsh men’s choir that would be singing. They eventually started singing and as a surprise brought me up to sing me happy birthday. Plus, we went on a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and made a stop in Galway. Ireland was full of the greatest food, and the best conversations with old and new friends.
What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?
Paris has a lot of fun things to do, but I honestly loved taking the metro. I took line 8 every day to and from school, and looked forward to picking out a new place in the city to check out because it meant riding the metro. The metro is a whole different city underground and always promised something new and exciting every time you got off. I am very detail-oriented so figuring out what line I needed to take and how many stops there were in-between was perfect. After a month of living in Paris I felt like I was a local and could get around Paris. Of course, there are some downsides to the metro like any city’s public transportation system, but I looked on the positive side of things because a 30-minute metro ride allowed for some deep thinking, time to read, or listen to music or a podcast.
What has your experience taught you about the world?
Studying abroad included going to classes, which I truly enjoyed and learned a great deal in. However, interacting with so many different people from around the world taught me that we are more similar than we care to let on sometimes. We all wish to be happy, pursue our goals and dreams, have true and lasting relationships, and be loved. Regardless of where someone comes from, taking the time to hear their story will help you grow as a person. When I had conversations with people from very different walks of life with the mindset to better understand and wanting to learn from them, they were a lot more open and willing to do the same. Being kind goes a long way. Letting go of expectations and stereotypes of people will bring a richer experience, and a great new friend.
What felt the most “foreign” to you when you came back to the US?
When I returned to the US, the culture shock was a lot harder to adjust to than when I first got to Paris. I believe this was because things at home went on without me, so returning to a place that hadn’t grown or learned new things like I had was frustrating at times. Besides, you expect things to be different and often strange when you go to a new city across the world. Other than some people not fully understanding what my experience taught me about the world, the most “foreign” thing about the US was how busy we truly strive to be. As Americans, we take pride in being productive and good at our jobs, but rarely take time to enjoy our surroundings. I’ve learned to not take life so seriously sometimes and to slow down each day. It’s ok to not be doing something every second of every day.
Regardless of where you’re studying abroad and where you travel to, I hope you make the most of every moment. We don’t get many opportunities like this, so take full advantage of where you’re living and the learn from the people around you.
Jordan was a fall 2019 Paris student from Baylor University.