The wait is over and I’ve finally begun my semester abroad in Paris. The first week has flown by faster than I could have imagined with some interesting additions (both expected and unexpected).
First, the strikes. The French are famous for their strikes, as I have been told by many a French person in the few days I’ve been in Paris whenever the current demonstrations are brought up in conversation. Whether it be during orientation sessions by our instructors, waiting for the bus/metro that never comes with the locals, or over dinner with my host mom, the sentiments are the same. No one is happy about the effects of the strikes on their daily routines. I, along with the other students in my program, were unfortunately welcomed to Paris as the Parisiennes were in the middle of a strike that halted several primary means of public transportation around the city, as well as the still active demonstrations of the “gilets jaunes,” or “yellow vests.” This has proved to be quite an interesting hurdle to conquer, as the metro is an amazingly efficient means of transportation around the city. Therefore, I have found myself having to become very creative with the ways in which I travel from arrondissement to arrondissement, oftentimes having to simply brave the streets and plan for my trip to take a few minutes longer than usual.
This proved to be an even more interesting undertaking when the second interesting addition to my first full week manifested with the arrival of my family. My parents and my sister decided to visit me very early on in the course of my program, in order to accommodate some conflicting plans later in the semester, when they might have had more time, but also to be with me for my 21st birthday, which took place during my first weekend in the city. Leading up to the start of the semester, I often expressed a bit of disappointment that I would be spending my 21st birthday in Paris (I know, truly very unfortunate) as the benefits and general excitement of turning 21 in Europe are completely unimportant, as their legal drinking and smoking age is 18. To make this cultural event slightly more relevant, my family visited me in order to celebrate and brought my best friend with them, which was a complete and incredible surprise.
Since their visit was relatively short for a trip to Paris, I was kept quite busy for the time they were here. The two days at the beginning of their visit I still had orientation sessions as well as my language classes, so immediately after the end of my meetings I would hurry to meet them wherever they were (made all the more difficult and hurried by the strikes). Though tiring, I really enjoyed getting to do this as I was able to act as a tour guide for my family, bringing them to see all my favorite spots around the city from my last stay as well as showing them some of the best monuments, churches, and museums (of which there seems to be an endless supply).
The best part by far, however, was bringing them to visit my apartment where I am staying with my “host mom.” Upon arriving in Paris, I was blown away as I was shown around the apartment I would be calling home for the next few months, as the view from my bedroom window quite literally looks out on almost all the major sights of the city: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Sacre-Coeur are all visible from my window and my balcony (that’s right, my balcony). It was the set-up of my dreams and better than anything I could have imagined, with an amazing host mom to top it all off. My family was just as impressed with my accommodations and proxy mother, and equally impressed with the conversation and comprehension skills I had already built up and improved upon in the few days I’ve been here. With this, I am nothing but excited to see how things progress in the weeks to come.
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<p>My name is Jeanne Torp. I'm a junior at the University of Mississippi majoring in International Studies and French and minoring in Environmental Studies! I will be studying abroad in Paris, France for the Spring 2020 semester, working to better my language skills and immerse myself in the French culture. After graduating, I hope to enter into the urban design or architecture fields, which I'm especially excited to be pursuing as new green and sustainable methods are being introduced to the field every day. Some of my hobbies include traveling, writing, photo- and video-taking, music, and reading.</p>