Stephanie Thomas
International Area Studies
CIEE, Paris
Summer 2014

Like most major cities, Paris has a metro system—a seemingly arbitrary system of corresponding colorful lines and numbers which connect you to neighborhoods across the city. This was how I navigated Paris for a month. To and from class, my life was at the mercy of the Paris Métropolitain. While I was intimidated at first, I learned to love the metro; its overheated cars and uniformed stations became a home for me.

All of Paris became a home for me as well.

Since the ripe age of five, when I was first exposed to the French language, I had wanted to go to Paris. Fourteen years later, thanks to the International Area Studies Freshman Summer Experience Award, I found myself studying Art History in Paris, speaking the language I had grown to love more than English.

On my second day in Paris, I got lost twice, and in the process I learned two things:

  • It is imperative that you know where you’re going, even if it is only the slightest inkling.
  • “Lost in Paris” is a much less romantic concept when it applies to you.
But, amidst the chaos of rush hours, midnight solo trips, and journeys rife with getting lost, I fell in love with the city, learning a lot about life and myself in the process.

For example, I learned that French women do not wear bright colors. On the other hand, I have the American sensibility that the summer means wearing bright colors. I learned very quickly that in Paris the only place for bright color is a woman’s lips.

In addition to learning how to dress and act like a Parisian, I immersed myself in all that Paris had to offer. My daily walks included strolls past the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, stopping along the way to gaze at the Eiffel Tower, or taking a detour to The Louvre to visit the Mona Lisa, or watching the final laps of the Tour de France on the Champs Elysées.

To me, Paris was everything. I truly learned how much Paris truly meant to me one weekend holiday in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a magical, beautiful, and amazing place, but when I landed in Paris after three days in Spain I felt a relief from the homesickness I had felt for Paris. Even after returning to Philadelphia, I still feel homesick. A brief layover in Paris on a return flight from Edinburgh brought me a sense of comfort; maybe it was the sound of French accents or seeing signs in French or the ubiquitous pâtisseries, but I felt at home.

And so, even though I currently live in Philadelphia, I still call Paris home.

Krishna Rami
International Area Studies
International Development Program
Fall 2013 - Spring 2014

I studied abroad in Senegal through the Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID) program for the 2013-2014 academic year. During the program, I took classes at the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, completed two internships, and conducted research. I took a variety of classes at WARC, but the most beneficial to me was a Wolof language class. As my language skills developed, I tried to speak in Wolof as much as I could. Many Senegalese really appreciated this, as Wolof is the predominant native language even though French is the official language of the state.

When I was interning in the village of Kaolack, I met many people who did not know French. I also learned that although Wolof is widely spoken, there are very few resources written in Wolof; most are only written in French. My internship in Kaolack was at L’Association pour la Promotion de la Femme Sénégalaise (APROFES)—an organization focused on advancing women’s rights and economic development. The people at APROFES work hard to inform citizens of their legal rights. Many native people are marginalized because of their lack of knowledge about their rights. Illiteracy and a lack of access to resources are another pressing issue, but even with access to information, the fact that important documents are written in a foreign language adds an extra barrier.

When living with my host family, my host mother, Maman Bolo, helped me practice my Wolof. She would speak only in Wolof to me, except when using French to explain what she had said in Wolof. This was sometimes frustrating, but it helped me understand the significance of learning Wolof. Simply trying to communicate with people was a struggle, and it made me appreciate what so many expatriates experience.

Becoming a part of my family in Dakar was one of the best parts of my experience abroad. My host family was incredibly welcoming and supportive. They helped me integrate into Senegalese society, and my experience would not have been the same without their care. I know that I was lucky to have been placed with people that felt like real family. Living in a very different environment than what you are used to is not easy, but having supportive people around you makes the adjustment easier. I faced many instances of miscommunication, whether they were by language or culture, but the family and friends that I made in Senegal were always patient with me.

My friends and family taught me about issues that are important to them, such as limited funding in Quranic schools. I learned to become more aware of the way Westerners place importance on certain types of development. I am grateful for the experiences that I had because they helped me challenge my biases, even if I was not fully aware that I had them. I cherish the relationships with my new friends and family that I was fortunate enough to make during my time abroad. I continue to learn from them and add to the many insights that I have gained.
Krystle Wilson
French Minor
International Area Studies
CIEE Rennes, Fall 2011

Rennes, France: A Time to Remember

Salut! My name is Krystle Wilson, I am an International Area Studies major. I spent Fall term 2011 studying abroad in Rennes. Upon arriving in Rennes, I was neither super excited nor petrified. My emotions were somewhere in the middle, you could say even-keeled. I had come to France previously to work as an English language assistant. And I guess, that instilled a quiet sense of self-assuredness in me. If I didn’t meet the group at Charles de Gaulle on time…that would be okay, I had already the experience of roaming the metros of Paris alone. This sense of having it together quickly disappeared however once I met my famille d’accueil. It was a new territory, more dauntingly exciting than mounting the Paris metro for the first time alone en direction de Trocadéro. The famille d’accueil looked like a perfect family portrait: sculpted faces, each member subtly resembling the next in line, athletic figures, and a taste for quality clothing. My famille d’accueil was okay over all. I loved the location of their house, it was close to the metro and I had the option to walk most places.
The most rewarding part of my stay in Rennes was the relationships I made with a few French students that I had met randomly and other international students in my classes. My term consisted of going out Thursdays- Sundays with the friends I made, visiting historical monuments, going to art museums, concerts, and restaurants. I am happy to say that I’ve stayed in touch with most of these people. I would recommend study abroad to anyone, it’ll add something special to your already wonderful life!

Minor Thesis Dinner, May 2012
French Table

From Left to Right
Andrew DeVita, Dr. Anne-Marie Obajtek-Kirkwood, Mai-Linh Bui, Christine Rettew, Stephanie Toronidis, Bridget Botchwey, Krystle Wilson, Benjamin Smith, Kate Wilt missing

  Liz Dzwonek
  French Minor
  Health Sciences
  Teaching Assistant Program in France 2010-2011

Up until a week before I left for France, I still had nowhere to live when I got there. As you can imagine, my mom was freaking out just a little. I had never lived outside of the greater Philadelphia area, and now I was about to move across the Atlantic. Luckily, a teacher with whom I would be working contacted me saying “Hi Elizabeth, I’m Elisabeth too. You will be living with me when you arrive in Bordeaux, I will pick you up from the train station.” No questions asked, I accepted! So I said goodbye to my friends, family, and boyfriend for the next 8 months, and said bonjour to France.

After a week-long reunion in Paris with some Outstanding European Student Leaders (whom I met at Drexel in 2009), I took my 2 huge suitcases and 2 duffel bags on the TGV, direction: Bordeaux. At the Gare St. Jean I met Elisabeth, who was half my height and twice my age, and she grabbed half of my luggage and we sprinted to her car before she could get towed. She sped us away in her Peugeot to her house where her husband and a fresh meal were waiting for us. My first taste of real French cooking, Michel was an amazing chef! I lived with Elisabeth and Michel for a month before I found my own apartment, and in that month I ate the best (and strangest) food I have in my life: des moules, des huitres, du boudin, du canard, du foie gras and of course... the wine!

That first month in Bordeaux was the hardest, but it was what I needed to equate me with the French way of life. The search for an apartment took just about one month, and it took some of my friends in the same program even longer. I can’t tell you how many times I asked “Excusez-moi, est-ce que la chambre / l’appartement est toujours disponible?”. I felt like I was Romain Duris in L’Auberge Espagnole: I rode my bike to interviews with possible future roommates, they pen and paper in hand, analyzing my answers to every question, and ranking me right in front of me (a very French thing to do, as I would discover at school). These were mostly students, one was a divorced man living with his 3 year old, and others were men looking for young women to be their “colocs”... Eh non, merci. Attention les filles!!!

After finding a T1 meublée all to myself, it was time to figure out how I was going to survive with a kitchen équipée, meaning a sink plus two hot plates, and c’est tout. Living on top of a little marché was helpful, and I bought a French cookbook at the Librairie Mollat called 5€ ou moins to help refine my culinary skills.

The program I was accepted to is called Teaching Assistant Program in France. I was lucky enough to be placed in only one primary school in the suburbs of Bordeaux. I rode my bike there a couple times with Elisabeth, past the ripened vineyards and grands châteaux. It was like a dream.

The primary school was very welcoming and all of the teachers were very enthusiastic about me being there to teach the kids. The kids were mostly adorable, but English time was like recess for them, so it was hard to keep 40 kids under control at one time! It made me appreciate all my elementary school teachers that much more.

I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my experience in Bordeaux. At school, we had the usual two hour lunch break every day, plus schools were closed every Wednesday, and I happened to have a half day every Monday and off every Friday. My friends and I scheduled little excursions on Wednesdays. We went wine tasting in St. Emilion and Médoc, and went to the beach and dunes of Arcachon. It was no Mediterranean climate, but it was warm enough to be on the beach in October and again in Februrary!

The part that I miss most about France are the friends I made there. What shapes your life experiences are the relationships you build with the people around you. And if you are brave enough to put yourself in an unfamiliar situation, you will learn a lot about yourself as well. This quote by Miriam Beard says what I mean to say: “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Now go, and live your dream for yourself!

Mai Linh comments on French 371 & French 411 (June 2011)


Minor Thesis Dinner, May 2011
French Table

From Left to Right
Adam Zahn, Ashley Hutchinson, Prof. Brenda Dyer, Bridget Botchwey, Tina DiSciullo, Ariel Kirkwood, Stephanie Boyle, Stephanie Toronidis, Dr. Anne-Marie Obajtek-Kirkwood, Mai Linh Bui

Bonjour, Philly-Paris!
Here are some staff picks that highlight the best of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

By Alissa Falcone

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts
Various Locations
Through May 1, 2011

The City of Brotherly Love welcomes the City of Lights for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), a month-long festival celebrating Parisian art and culture from the first two decades of the 20th century.
Because most Philadelphians primarily focus on their city’s sports teams, PIFA is determined to spotlight the city's art and culture—even if it means lighting a newly-constructed 81-foot high replica of the Eiffel Tower in the Kimmel Center lobby twice a night for a month.
Festival events will be held at multiple dates, times, and places in the city, with both reoccurring and special one-time-only happenings. And with more than 135 events and 1,500 artists featured, there is more than enough to satisfy even the pickiest Philadelphian-Parisian.
The lightshow of the Eiffel Tower is an example of the repeated events, as it occurs every night at 7 and 10 p.m. Similarly, live musical performances, French food and wine tastings, and 10-minute French lessons are also available for free every day or night at the Kimmel Center.
French operas and symphonies will be performed by local groups such as the Philadelphia Orchestra and students from the University of the Arts. Several events are focused around famed artist Marc Chagall, such as an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art titled "Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and his Circle"; even better, tickets to this exhibit will have a 25 percent discount with any PIFA ticket purchase.

Here are our picks:

"Brave New World: Fashion and Freedom, 1911-1919"
Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Leonard Pearlstein Gallery - Free
Fear not, busy Drexel students, for some aspects of the PIFA celebration can be found on this very campus. The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design hosts this exhibition on period clothing and accessories, all part of the Drexel Historic Costume Collection.

The historical period in which the pieces of this exhibit were worn is was a very important time in the fashion world as corsets were lost, skirts were shortened, and colored fabric became preferred amongst women of considerable social status. Whether you’re a dedicated lover of fashion or just someone who needs time to kill between classes, "Brave New World" is a quick and easy way to inject some culture into an otherwise drab daily routine.

"Exile Among Expats: James Joyce in Paris"
Through August 28, the Rosenbach Museum and Library
Tues & Fri noon to 5:00 p.m., Wed & Thurs noon to 8:00 p.m., Sat & Sun noon to 6:00 p.m.
Tickets: $5 - $10
James Joyce may be the author whose novel Ulysses uses over 265,000 words to describe a day in a character’s life, but this exhibit is a multimedia one that uses photographs, personal belongings and artifacts to describe the Irish author’s twenty year residency in Paris during the early 20th century.
Key pieces to this exhibit include pages from the manuscript to Ulysses, Man Ray’s iconic photographic portrait of Joyce, and a first edition of Ulysses smuggled out of Paris and into the United States for Dr. Rosenbach in 1922.
You don’t have to be an English major for this exhibit, but an interest in Joyce and his literature would certainly add to the experience.

Free at Noon Concerts
Fridays through April 29 at noon, Kimmel Center Plaza
The Free at Noon concert series, which are sponsored by WXPN and are usually held from noon to 1 p.m. at Philly’s World Cafe Live, will be hosted every Friday at the Kimmel Center Plaza for the month of April as part of PIFA. (...)
Each Free at Noon performer is announced a week before the concert. Past performers at the Free at Noon series include the Cold War Kids, Bobby Long, and Kurt Vile. WXPN is a public radio station run by the University of Pennsylvania that is known for playing alternative music.

“Philly-Paris Lockdown” featuring Questlove of THE ROOTS with Keren Ann
Sunday, April 17 at 8 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center
Tickets: $35 - $65
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson: a name known by many but pronounced by few. The famed producer and drummer of the Philly hip-hop band the Roots—you know, the house band on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon—will be playing his take on early 1900s Paris, which fuses his hip-hop background and modern instrumentation with classical period composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky. Keren Ann, an internationally renowned singer, will be adding her vocals to the mix. As if that wasn’t experimental and artistic enough, the words of famous 1920s Paris expatriates such as James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway will also be added to the boiling pot of Questlove’s set.
Additionally, after the presentation Questlove will be playing a special festival DJ set in the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater. Local DJ favorites Rich Medina and DJ AfroDJiak will also have their turns at the turntable. Keep in mind that this is a Sunday night … and also that this is Questlove of the Roots.

An event as grand as PIFA is as rare and historic as the time period the festival celebrates, with local organizations of all sizes and artistic backgrounds coming together in a way that has not yet been seen by the city and is likely not to be seen again for a while.
So put down that cheesesteak and come down to the Kimmel Center to pick up a crêpe or two. Bring some amis with you,and maybe even a French poodle if you have one. Berets optional, of course. After all, this festival only lasts a few more weeks, but at least you’ll always have Philly-Paris.

Tickets and event details can be found on the official PIFA website.

Photo by Rusty Kennedy for PIFA.

Alissa Falcone is a freshman Communications Major at Drexel University, enrolled in French 103 at the time of writing this paper, reproduced from Drexel University Cultural Passport.

Adam Zahn
French Minor
International Area Studies

Teaching Experience with the NGO
Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child
Fall 2010

Read his Blog

“Silence! Silence!” yelled my students at Bitame Lucia Nursery and Primary School mocking my attempt to quiet them down. I found it quiet funny actually the way they mocked my voice—a mix between a toad’s croak and a baby seal being eaten by a shark. Staring back at them in confusion, I thought to myself, “When is the next plane to Philly?” After the students settled after what seemed like ages, I embarked on our first lesson. Sure the introduction didn’t go well, but maybe nouns would.

Nouns didn’t. And neither did verbs, adjectives, or adverbs. The students at Bitame Lucia Nursery and Primary School in Nkoufoulou village in Yaoundé, Cameroon knew four words of English for the majority of the duration of my volunteer teaching experience. “Good morning, Sir” when I first walked into class. “Good morning, Sir” when they came into class after their long break. And “Good bye, Sir” at the end of the day. They knew a lot more French though you would not know it based on the conversations between us. “Le blanc,” they said in the morning. “Le blanc!” they pointed during a lesson on verbs. “Le blanc!” one student said touching my arm hair. Teaching at the school, which was sponsored by the small NGO, Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child (CAPEC), was supposed to be a chance for me to be a catalyst of inspiration for my students. Instead, it was about understanding that my American perception of education did not quite translate. Although that should not have surprised me, considering my travels to the school every morning consisted of a shared motor bike taxi. Some of my students, in the range of 8-10 years old, were going to school for the first time. Imagine their surprise when I handed them their first English test. By the time I left the country, emotionally drained and ten pounds lighter, I reflected upon the development of my students’ English skills. They were able to conjugate in the simple present tense, and understood the basic concepts of a greeting conversation. And no longer was I “le blanc” to them. Instead I was “the white!”

And for the first time I realized my students were becoming literate; not because they wanted to, but because it was the only way we would be able to learn to identify with each other. Cameroon was a difficult but humbling and extemely rewarding experience. More on my Blog...

Andrew Damron
French Minor
International Area Studies
Critical Studies Program

(From his Personal Blog)

As I sit here in the library trying to think of what to write to you, the prospective study-abroader, I figured the best way to communicate my experience is to take 2 days, the first and the last, from my personal blog while I was in Paris and I will let you experience everything that happens in between. In order to experience something similar to me, you have to make that risk and escape from your comfort zone.

Monday, August 27, 2007 - “Bonjour Monsieur Tour-Eiffel!”

A short story about the title of this blog: I was coming out of the subway near our hotel three days ago and I passed by two girls about 4 or 5 years old. I imagine they were thinking I was quite tall. One of the girls repeated a couple times "Bonjour Monsieur Tour-Eiffel" - I got a kick out of that. My first weekend here in Paris was fantastic. We were completely free to do whatever we wished. Friday after orientation Session 2 I visited the Musée Carnavalet with about 10-15 students from class. Later on at night I met with Kamal, my French friend, and my two Dutch friends Serçe, and Jurriaan. We went to the Louvre which is free to students every Friday night. What a great deal. It's open from 18h00 to 21h45. I believe that just about all of the people in my program went - but I didn't see them. After we visited the Louvre we walked through the Jardins Tuileries. Then after our long walk we stopped to get a crêpe and relaxed along the Champs-Elysées. This night was the first time the weather started to shape up. The rest of the weather during the weekend was beautiful. 

Saturday was quite relaxing. I tried to catch up on my rest. I think I did -- I didn't wake up until 13h30. I went grocery shopping, watched a little bit of French television, then at night hung out with a lot of the folks in our program. They seem pretty awesome thus far. My roommate made a huge Indo/Pakistani dinner for about 10-15 of us. It was fantastic. It was just hanging out and talking for the rest of the night. On Sunday Heather, Christine, and Alexandra, three people from my program, joined me and we walked around the Champs-Elysées... and then went by the Arc de Triomphe although we did not climb it. After this, Alex left us and we went to the Rive Gauche (the Left Bank of the Seine). Heather, Christine, and I had lunch in St. Germain. It was rather nice. I paid 3 euros for a Coke (12 oz/33mL). It's too expensive to eat in restaurants. Maybe once a week for lunch, that will be my limit :). Christine and I walked around for a bit more then returned.   


Later last night I met up with Kamal, Kamal's friend Kamal, Serçe, and Jurriaan and we had a fantastic night. We went to a Japanese restaurant and had some great food à la NIHON. After that we walked over to the Panthéon (Sorbonne, Université de Paris I) and watched the full moon rise. We relaxed in front of there for about an hour just talking. Afterwards we went into the Latin Quarter area. Thousands of people crowded the streets, cafés, bars, and restaurants. Mind you this was 10:30PM! It was simply amazing, oh and so was the chocolate crêpe.

So I just finished my placement exam for French. It was rather difficult: a listening section, reading comprehension section (about Freud nonetheless), and a seemingly all-inclusive section on French grammar. It was pretty rough, but at the same time I think it's going to be a good judge on my French level. Based on my score, I will be placed into one of four groups to start my intensive language program. I'm going to take a break now (we are free for 2.5 more hours - until 14h00).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 “Life is beautiful.”

The people whom you meet help create who we are. During these past 9 months, I've met some of the greatest people on my trip here in France and for that I am forever fortunate. As I sit here in the airport waiting to get on the plane, I find myself reflecting. As cliché as it might be to come to Paris for a study abroad, I don't care... this has had an enormous impact on who I am. The relationships that I have built in Paris have been engraved into my heart and I know that they aren't leaving. I've trained myself, or so I thought, to not become emotionally attached to certain things - like Paris, the people who I meet, etc... but in the end, it's impossible. I have built such a relationship with families, friends, Monique [my host mother], Paris... I feel the pain leaving them. It's not the end. It's just a beginning.

Brittany Cormack
French Minor
Fashion Design
Co-op in Paris with Cristofoli Press
and designer J Maskrey

From The Triangle 9/21/2006
Entertainment (32, 30


This summer I found myself living in Paris, France. A week before I left, I found an apartment online. Two days before I left, I bought a one-way plane ticket. The day of, I moved out of my apartment in Philly, packed my bags and headed out. You could say it was a last-minute decision.
I was offered a scholarship by the Co-op abroad office to do the 2 nd half of my co-op in Fashion Design abroad. At this time I had a great job, great friends, a great apartment, and what was promising to be a great summer in Philly. But I am a person who can't pass up an opportunity for adventure, especially when it was staring me right in the face like that. I wasn't worried about the culture shock or the language barrier; it would be my fourth time in France. And after studying abroad in southern France last summer, I was itching to go back. But this time would be completely different. I wouldn't be on vacation, or part of a group, I knew I would be completely on my own. And so I arrived in Paris on July 4 with no job, no friends, no contacts, and no idea what would happen the next three months.

I'd by lying if I said it was easy. Finding any kind of job in France in the summertime is next to impossible, even when you are offering free labor. The truth is, French people don't like to work in the summer and all the factories shut down. "Ce n'est pas la bonne période" was all I heard. This was a complete reverse of what I came from in the States, where I was pressured to work, work, work. Here, I was trying to work and they told me "take a vacation!" But persistence and strength in character pays off, because now I have 3 jobs. I work for a fashion press office, a designer from London, and when I have a day here or there, a private French couture designer.

Although the experience I have been getting has been invaluable, I wouldn't exactly say it's all glitz and glam. Its hard to motivate yourself to work for free, especially when it sometimes entails things like hauling a huge sac of clothes to a magazine across town through the metro and typical Paris rain, going to Galerie Lafayette during peak hours (think Disney World in August) or holding a photographer's reflector during an 11 hr photo shoot. But it pays off when I have the chance to make the patterns the for clothes that are part of a new collection, get to go to Fashion Week in Copenhagen, and overhear someone saying to my boss "where did you find such a good assistant?"

For me, Paris is a city of wonder and a source of continual inspiration. As an artist in many domains, being bombarded every day with new ways of looking at the world has given me more and more motivation to create. And in such a dynamic, international environment it's impossible not to be moved to change.
However, I can't say life in Paris is always so magical. I am constantly battling with aspects that are not so fabulous- like being fined by a Métro policeman who is having a bad day and won't give in to a friendly smile, an overwhelming homeless population that won't leave you alone, and the fact that I haven't seen the sun or a day over 70 degrees in more than six weeks is a bit depressing. And not to mention that as soon as I open my mouth people know I am a foreigner and then decide whether or not they feel like helping me.   But it's learning to live with and overcome these daily frustrations that make life as a foreigner so interesting and ultimately rewarding. The fact that I am living here, working here, even dancing here, and that I can say "Non, je ne suis pas touriste. J'habite ici (No, I am not a tourist, I live here)" makes me so proud. Coming here with absolutely nothing but a suitcase and a few ideas in my head, I now have three jobs, amazing friends, life-long contacts, and not to mention an incredible sense of accomplishment and autonomy.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to experience life and the world around you. I equate it to going to scary movies or amusement parks- it's frightening not knowing what will happen, but we do it anyway, on purpose, out of the need for thrill, and once is never enough.

Never pass up a chance to better yourself, it will always be worth it. And always, always live for the adventure in life.

Yuliya Ostapenko
Ecole Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur, Paris
Drexel Business Exchange in Paris

FromThe Triangle 2/3/2006
Letters From Abroad (31, 29)


There is no easy road to Paris. In fact, there is no easy road in life. By choosing to study at Drexel, however, we embrace the challenges facing us. Going through intensive 10-week quarters and co-ops increases our self-confidence and our ability to overcome obstacles. Why don't we reinforce that by studying abroad? It is a self-defining experience that will change you forever. It is also a wise investment in your future. With the current pace of technological progress, complete globalization is closer than we realize. Even if the whole world will be speaking English, it will not be an open book for those who have closed minds.

What is it about the Paris exchange program that is truly special? It is not the ability to finally visit the Eiffel Tower in person, nor it is the ability to buy something expensive from the Galleries Lafayette. It is the air of the great city that is filled with a myriad of unique smells and sounds, each of which promises an unforgettable experience.

Such as the smell of crêpes emanating from every café and restaurant, large and small, without exception. Did you know that crêpes date back 100 years? There are so many recipes and the most unexpected fillers used in their preparation that it is impossible to taste them all in the three and a half months of your stay in Paris. It is also the smell coming from the Rue Mouffetard, one of Paris' s great market streets. Bread, cheese, fish, meat, you name it, and it is there on an ordinary day that quickly converts to yet another unforgettable food celebration.

How about the complete silence you encounter when you turn onto the Rue Sevradoni right behind the Gardens of Luxembourg? It is one of the smallest and prettiest streets in Paris. Once you start walking on it, the usual city noise simply fades away, and as you stroll down it, the magnificent Church of St. Sulpice comes into view. There are so many streets just like this one that make you feel like you belong here and wish that time would stop and that you would never have to leave Paris.

One advantage you gain by staying in Paris for longer than just a vacation is that you are free from the regular tourist rush. You can turn right or left and explore that little street like the Rue de Rosiers that will introduce you to the heart of old Jewish community, or passage Cour du Commerce St. Andre that was very important in the days of the French Revolution and according to the rumors has almost not changed since, or stumble upon the "Wall of Love" just behind the exit of Abbesses metro station. This wall has the phrase "I love you" written in more than 300 languages and dialects. If you spent some time searching it, you could find this phrase in all the languages you speak and will understand why such a tribute to love's most extraordinary expression could not have been built in any city other than Paris.

You will make acquaintances and hopefully some friends with the mere 150 other international students and the many French students studying at Leonardo da Vinci University. At the beginning, as you struggle with comprehending your classes in French, you will be consoled by knowing that there are other non-fluent speakers, and the thing that truly unites you all is the desire to speak the language you have put so much effort into studying. You will also realize, however, that the majority of other students speak more than two languages. The average for European students is three or four. Some of them study the languages because it is required by their university program, but the majority say that they simply want to submerge themselves in the Spanish culture when they go to Madrid or the English culture when they go to London. They also confessed that their confidence grows with every new language they learn. They say that living in the language-speaking environment significantly facilitates their cultural immersion.

You get to know 90 percent of the cultural iceberg that is hidden beneath the waters. Some things you will like and accept eagerly, yet others you will constantly challenge. (...) This change will be irreversible. It will urge you to reevaluate your perception of the world. You will never again be satisfied with The Metro as your only source of information. You will be constantly hungry for more and more knowledge. The change that you will undergo will make you stand out both personally and professionally in today's fast-changing world.

Also, don't forget to pack your copy of The Da Vinci Code. It is truly an adventure to read this book while in Paris. For you, the Louvre will be more than just the largest museum in the world. It will be the place where you can follow Robert Langdon (...) You will be closer to understanding why the Mona Lisa, Madonna of the Rocks and other da Vinci paintings spark so much controversy as to their true meanings. And of course, you will be hungry for more discoveries. You will absolutely want to take Eurostar to London to find "the tomb with missing orb" under which lies one of the greatest knights: Sir Isaac Newton (...) your hunger for universal wisdom will never end.

The quest for knowledge is how one satisfies natural curiosity. It is exactly how Christopher Columbus discovered America. (...) Why don't you follow this road back to Europe? You might discover something that will change not only you, but also your view of the world.

Regina Cagle
French Minor
EPF Ecole d'Ingénieurs
Sceaux, France
Global Engineering Education Exchange

From Pennoni Honors College News
Vol.14 No. 1 Winter 2006 (3-4)
Letters from Abroad

As I flew over the Channel into France, I wondered about everything that awaited me. I spent a month in Paris a year and a half ago, so I thought about the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and all of my other favorite places. But I still wondered what really awaited me.
In my first class of the semester, the professor gave a long introduction, and by the end of it, I felt overwhelmed; I hadn't understood a thing. Somehow, my six years of language instruction had vanished. Since all of my classes would be in French, this did not bode well. I was seated next to another exchange student who had alrready been in Paris for a year. He must have seen the confused (or frightened) look on my face, but he assured me that with time things would come together.

I realized at that moment that this year studying abroad in Paris was least about academics. Of course it would be a daunting task taking upper-level engineering courses in a foreign language, but I reminded myself that I was not the first student to ever study abroad. It was about connecting with people around me, and taking in everything the city and the experience had to offer, and it was about learning about myself.

Mornings in Paris are my favorite part of the day. I wake to the sun shining through the large windows that make up the eastern wall of my dorm, and wonder what new experiences I will uncover. Some days are routine; I go to school, go to the grocery store, then head home to cook dinner with friends. Of course, there is much to do being in one of the most culturally rich cities in Europe, and being so close to many European cities. But, I still think routine days are the best.

I no longer feel like a tourist. The Eiffel Tower has become only a casual landmark in my daily routines. Now it is real life: finding the hidden treasures of the city; making friends at the local bakery (since you go in for a fresh baguette every evening); and learning about the people around you, who are also trying their best to make Paris their home, even when "home" is really thousands miles away.
There is so much history and cultural richness in Philadelphia, but when you realize there is more out there for you, give some thought to studying abroad. For me, it was a leap of faith, but now, I would not take this experience back for anything else in the world. A good friend reminded me that we are made up of our experiences. This is an opportunity you should not let pass.

Mary Hoffman
French Minor
Biomedical Engineering Paris

FromThe Triangle December 11, 2004
Letters from Abroad

Recipient of a Fullbright Scholarship to France in 2005

I am a senior in engineering this year. (...) I've tried to put a lot into my Drexel education by taking advantage of some of the opportunities that are available. (...) I studied abroad twice in my college career (...) I spent the last six months in Paris where I worked for three months, trying to improve my French, and then I attended an engineering seminar and French language program. Not only did I learn French (almost fluently), I met a lot of wonderful people, including my current boyfriend.

I'm getting way ahead of myself. The first time I ever considered studying abroad was during my first co-op at Glaxosmithkline. I was working with an intern from Ireland who asked me one day if I had ever gone to Ireland. I had never even considered it before then, but suddenly, it seemed like such a good idea.

(...) If you want to study abroad, see a new country, experience a new culture, meet new friends, learn a new language, or even just take a break from Drexel and Philly, studying abroad will be one of the best decisions you ever make. I traveled to Denmark at the end of my sophomore year to live and study in a small town just outside of Copenhagen. I won't lie. The first three days were definitely a shock. They were probably the strangest days of my life. I was living with four other foreign students, from Sweden, France and Spain, and communication was slow at first. I missed home, I missed my friends, I missed my egg, pepper and cheese hoagie from the food trucks, and I missed being able to read road signs. I was ALONE.

Then, suddenly, I wasn't alone. In a few days, I had new friends, and I still to this day, three years later, email these people on a weekly basis. I started learning a little Danish, enough to order a pastry at least. I became accustomed to making dinner from scratch instead of buying hamburger helper from the store. Most importantly, I realized that I could do anything. I realized that it's not where I am or what is around that defines me, but I define me. And this is the best lesson that I could have received. I am not afraid to go anywhere now.

This is how I ended up in France during my third co-op period. I went to France with two suitcases and a working permit, no job, and the knowledge that five friends who I had met in Denmark lived in Paris. I knew that if things did not work out in Paris, if I was lonely, out of money, or just homesick, Philly would always be awaiting for me.

Upon my return, I started a work study in the Study Abroad office. When I talked to people about studying abroad, they would tell me that they were reluctant to study abroad because they were afraid of what they might miss at home. They don't realize how much more they will miss if they never go.

James Langel
French Minor
International Area Studies
Co-op in Paris with Dechert Law Firm

From The IAS Informer June 2003 (4)
When in France...

Is springtime in Paris all it's cracked up to be? Sure if you like rain, but who cares about the weather when you have the opportunity to do a spring/summer co-op in France?

In 2002, I worked as a paralegal for Dechert law firm's Paris branch where I learned that corporate law is extremely rewarding and challenging - even more so when it is in French. Having worked for their Philadelphia branch for my second co-op, finding a job abroad was much easier.

Dechert is an American firm with eight domestic and five European branches, yet even in a multilingual office, I was shot down when I tried to speak English. Frustrated at the time, I now understand my past colleagues' reason behind the "French only" policy, as I have just recemtly handed in my French minor thesis. Thus, immersion in the language was integral.

I would summarize the experience as a rewarding exhaustion: working long hours by day, experiencing the wonders of the "city of lights" by night, taking weekend excursions to neighboring countries, and you know... that after-work beer seemed so much nicer with the Eiffel Tower as a scenery. I took, however, a minor pay cut to work there, and the distance from friends and family was hard at times, but reflecting on all I have learned personally, socially and professionally, I would pack my bags in a heartbeat for another chance at la vie française. VIVE LA FRANCE!



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