So far, I have been loving Paris and studying abroad here! I arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport the morning of Monday, September 5th, after taking an overnight Air France flight from Washington Dulles. It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been here for over three weeks! The first place that program participants go after arriving is their housing assignment, so I took a taxi to my homestay. My college actually requires students who participate in this program to stay in homestays with French families, rather than in an apartment, which is the second most popular option. People can also find their own independent housing, but I think only a few people are doing that. Even if I weren’t required to stay with a host family though, I think I would still have chosen to do so. As I spend more time here, I appreciate more how important a part people’s host families play in their study abroad experiences. I absolutely LOVE my host family! The family consists of a mom, a dad, three sons, and a daughter. (The daughter spends a lot of time at the homestay, but she actually lives somewhere else nearby.) The sons are 23, 21, and 8 years old, and the daughter is 22, so the 21-year-old son and the daughter are both currently in college. At the end of the day, I find that I’m excited to go back to my homestay and have dinner with the family. Everyone has been very kind and welcoming to me, and I feel like I get along well with everyone.
My homestay is in an apartment in the 17th arrondissement (district), and it’s not far from Boulevard Périphérique, a road that marks the city limits of Paris. It’s kind of far away from some things, but this really hasn’t been a problem for me because the metro, which I take at least twice a day, is super organized and convenient to use. To get to the IES Abroad Center, I take metro line 3 towards Gallieni, get off at the Saint-Lazare stop, take line 13 towards Châtillon – Montrouge, and get off at Gaîté. I really like the area where my homestay is, although I still have yet to really explore it. I need to do that!
Program participants actually find out their housing assignments kind of late, only about three weeks before the program start date. At some point over the summer, everyone filled out an online housing preferences questionnaire, and I feel like I got almost everything that I wanted, which is really great. Here are some of the questions that I can remember being asked, along with my answers:
Do you mind smoking? Yes. (This question is phrased kind of strangely, but yes, I mind, i.e., no smoking. However, a fair number of people that I’ve met say that their host families smoke, even though they indicated that they preferred non-smoking accommodations, which is kind of weird!)
Do you mind pets? No. (I was actually really hoping that my host family would have a dog, since I have two dogs back home, but alas…not all of our dreams come true.)
Would you prefer, be okay with, or prefer not to have a chambre de bonne? I would be okay with one. (I would not prefer one. As described by the Wikipedia article on it, a chambre de bonne, or maid’s quarters, “is a type of French apartment consisting of a single room in a house or apartment building. It is generally found on the top floor and only accessible by a staircase, sometimes a separate ‘service staircase’”. Any chambres de bonne in homestays that program participants stay in have their own bathrooms, but not necessarily their own showers. I do not have a chambre de bonne, which I’m grateful for, as it turns out. I think that I’d find that arrangement kind of isolating, since I wouldn’t be on the same floor as my host family, but I know that some people prefer it because they have more of their own separate space. I’m very happy with my bedroom, which is right next to the bathroom and has just enough space for all my stuff.
Would you like accommodations where you could practice a musical instrument? Yes. (I sing and play guitar and piano, so I thought that I would prefer an arrangement where my host family would be okay with me practicing, which they are.)
Do you mind kids? If not, what age group would you prefer? No, I do not mind kids. I would prefer kids in the adolescent age group. (I really wanted to have a host family with kids living in the homestay because I think I’d feel kind of awkward eating dinner with just a host mom and/or dad. I also wanted to be around French people my age who I could talk to and hang out with, and I didn’t want really young kids screaming and running around.
The IES Abroad Center is located in the 14th arrondissement and is near the Cimetière du Montparnasse. It’s also actually not too far a walk from the Luxembourg Gardens, which is a nice place to sit outside and eat lunch. The two closest metro stops to the center are Gaîté and Pernety. I love the neighborhood and street where the IES Abroad center is. There have got to be at least fifteen restaurants and cafés on the street, as well as a Monoprix, where you can buy an inexpensive lunch, like a baguette and some cheese. There are also several cute clothing stores nearby.
One thing I told myself I’d try to do in each of my blog posts is end with an inspirational and/or travel related quote. Here’s one that I really like, and I hope it inspires you, as it inspires me, to create your own path:
“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought.” -Matsuo Basho
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<p>My name is Emma, and I am very excited to be studying abroad in Paris this fall! I am from Washington, DC and a student at Gettysburg College, where I am a psychology and French double major. I love to sing, play guitar and piano, and write songs. I am also passionate about writing and photography.</p>