If someone had asked me a couple of years go if I were going to study abroad during my collegiate career, I probably would have laughed. I’ve always loved traveling, especially to Europe, but I never thought I would actually go through with it. There are so many choices and option of programs that I felt overwhelmed. It wasn’t until my Fall 2014 semester that I talked to my friend, Ellen Gaines. She studied abroad Summer 2014 in Copenhagen. So I went to the KIIS website and looked at the summer options. My roommate, Destini Engle, narrowed the options down to Paris 1, Spain, and Greece. We then looked at the length of each trip, the price, and the dates. The trip to Greece and Spain started around mid May. My little brother, Sam was graduating high school and Destini was a bridesmaid in her friend Lauren’s Wedding. So those two trips were crossed off our list. We then looked further into Paris 1. Our biggest concern, besides financial, was the lack of knowing any French. Besides the basic Bonjour or Merci, we were at a loss. We discovered that the Paris 1 trip didn’t require you to know French, but the Paris 2 trip did. So our choice was made. Just like Lillian from Bridesmaids said, “I’m going to France y’all!”
May 30th was the day we left for France. After a long day of traveling we finally arrived in France May 31st, at 10:40 AM. It was 4:40 AM in Lexington. The entire first day was a struggle because I didn’t get but an hour of sleep on the plane and now I had to stay awake for an entire day. Our directors, Francois and Eddie, gave us a tour of the neighborhood, showed us our bus stop, and metro stop. We all ate dinner and headed straight to bed.
June 1st was our first day of classes. Destini and I both took “Nonverbal Behavior” and “The History of the French Revolution.” “Nonverbal Behavior” was basically a people watching class. We learned about how the spacing, the counting, and touching were different than in America. WE would have field studies each class period and report back on how it is different. Wednesdays were excursion days for our class. We went to Musee du quai Branly, the zoo, Père Lachaise which is the cemetery where Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison were buried. In our history class we learned about everything from the causes of the revolution, Louis XVI and Marie Antionette, storming the Bastille, and Napoleon. Our excursions for the class were also on Wednesdays. We went to the Luxembourg Gardens, Old Paris, Le Procope where Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon visited a lot, Notre Dame, City Hall, Bastille, the place where the terrorist attack in January 2015, museum of the history of Paris, Place de la Nation, Arc de Triomphe, and Napoleon’s tomb.
We also took group excursions to Normandy, Palace of Versailles, and a riverboat cruise down the Seine River. Normandy was unreal. This is the place where D-Day happened. All of the bunkers, barbed wire fences, and underground hideouts were still there. Also we visited the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach. I had a pringles’ container and filled it with sand from the beach.
Four days out of the week were free days. This is when we would go shopping, climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe, visited the Louvre, the Catacombs, one of the many love lock bridges, and many more places. When we went shopping we just happened to come across the Louis Vuitton store. We waited 30 minutes to get inside. While were waiting, I decided to sit on the ground for a second. A gentleman in front of me gave me his handkerchief to sit on. It was such an awkward moment for me.
Out of the whole trip, I think the visit to Disneyland was my favorite day. Destini and I are children at heart so we were way more excited than every child in there. We went to both parks and got enough souvenirs to last us a long time. We encountered annoying middle schoolers, absolutely no personal space, power walking everywhere, and the BEST after ride pictures.
This trip absolutely changed my life. I ultimately became more independent, adventure seeking, and a Parisian at heart. Paris will forever have a piece of my heart and I will definitely go back in the future. Audrey Hepburn couldn’t have said it any better, “Paris is always a good idea.”